10 June 2009

Miss Indonesia -- Learning to Speak Indonesian

I would have figured that to become Miss Indonesia that the ability to speak Indonesian, even Indonesian like Cinta Laura's hybrid version, would be a pre-requisite for entry into the competition. However, the crowning of the current Miss Indonesia proves otherwise.

The crowning of Karenina Sunny Halim (sometimes spelt Kerenina) is a interesting one. The young women are always stunningly beautiful, but pageants are supposed to have extended beyond the superficial looks to the judging of the women's skills and contributions to the greater community and not just whether she looks like a knock-out in an evening dress and a swimming costume. There is no doubt that Karenina is a beautiful young woman.

There is also little doubt that she is smart. She holds qualifications in public relations, teaching, performing arts, music, and marketing, among others. There is also little doubt that she does not speak much Indonesian. The question then is whether or not she is the best choice to represent Indonesia on the international stage?

Karenina needed a translator in order to be able to understand the questions from the Indonesian judges of the pageant. This is akin to, let's say, the winner of the Miss Australia pageant requiring a translator to answer the judges' questions in English. I don't know that it would ever happen.

It seems that Karenina is also a little short on the knowledge of Indonesian culture front as well. My guess is that she is in for a crash course in the Indonesian language and the culture of the vast archipelago that is Indonesia.

Nevertheless, I wish her nothing but the best as she represents Indonesia in the Miss World competition to be held in Johannesburg in South Africa.


Harry Nizam H. said...

The Jakarta Post quoted her saying that she doesn't speak Indonesian & doesn't know Indonesian culture.
I hope that she can master both in 6 months as she hoped.
I know fellow Indonesians who live most of the time here but do not know much about our culture.
But it's not her fault, it's the judges' who choose her.
I wonder what would you say if a Miss Australia doesn't speak English and don't know the culture.

Rob Baiton said...


It was an interesting choice. I do not think that one can master the language and culture in six months.

Your mastery after six months is going to be bahasa sehar-hari, which is a eclectic mix of all sorts. If we are talking proper and correct Indonesian (Bhs. Indonesia yg baik dan benar), then it ain't gonna happen.

All of these issues I addressed in the post.

I don't know that it would happen that Australia would choose a representative that knew neither the culture nor the language.