Saturday, August 22, 2009

Miss Indonesia 2009... who barely speaks Indonesian

This story is a couple months old, but I'm behind the times as usual (hey, I still use a VCR!)

Karenina Sunny Halim, who was recently crowned this year's Miss Indonesia, is unusual in that despite being born and raised in Jakarta, she speaks little Indonesian. Having been home-schooled, and with an American mother, English has always been her main language. She needed a translator to answer the judges' questions, and claims not to know much about Indonesian culture.

Seems like a strange choice for someone to represent Indonesia. And certainly, there are plenty of Indonesians who are angry at the judges choice. But hey, she's hot, and hot goes a long way in my book. In any case, it's not like she's been elected President or anything.

(Although she doesn't seem thick by any means: the 23-year-old holds diplomas in public relations, sales and marketing, primary school teaching, economics, performing arts, and music and art.)

And she speaks the lingo better than I do, so who am I to throw stones?

You can see a brief news story here on her winning the pageant. Even if you don't understand Indonesian, its interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, check out her American-accented Indonesian in comparison to the "normal" accent of the voiceover. Secondly, check out how many Indos (Eurasians) are in this video. Not just her brother, popular actor Steve Emannuel, but at least one of the runners-up. It's true, Indonesians love that Indo look, and why the heck not? (Yup yup, don't hate us, just appreciate us.)

But also noticeable for me was the fairly homogeneous look of the contestants as they walked out - from a distance they look like clones, and all are light-skinned. Given the diversity of Indonesian people, it's a shame we don't embrace it more when it comes to the physical.


UPDATE (28/8/09): Ok, so Youtube removed that video, dammit. Try this one instead (unless it gets removed as well...) It's different, but really shows Karenina struggling with her Bahasa Indonesia. Watching that, I actually think I speak it better than her, which is not saying a whole lot.


  1. I wrote about this here:
    and while i dont hate eurasians (how can i? after all im one myself..) i just dont get a person representing indonesia who does not speak the language. that's just strange..
    but as I also wrote in my other blog (stuff indonesians like, and i see you have commented there as well. :p) Indonesians love Eurasians..
    well, more love to us then! :p

  2. Thanks Rima, yes I did enjoy reading your blogs. Its nice to see some English-speaking Indonesian perspectives on the blogosphere.

    I agree it is weird that her Indonesian is poor, but as I'm coming from Australia (a land of immigrants), I'm ok with it. Plenty of Olympic athletes of foreign origin have represented Australia without having much mastery of English.

  3. Ugh. What I can't stand are the many, many parents (including my OWN cousins who are married with kids) where BOTH parents are Indonesian and they LIVE in Indonesia BRAG about how their kids can't speak Indonesian properly (because they go to some sort of international school or other). (Why can't they just stick to bragging about how well they speak English? Why must they brag about how BADLY they speak Indonesian???)

    And as if that's not bad enough, often their kid's English ain't that great either. helllooo, anybody home? ugh.

    I'd like to see parents brag about how bad their kids are at math or something. Ugh. As you can see, this has been annoying me so very badly since I noticed the trend. So bad. So very bad.

  4. @ fromthetropics: that sounds weird, I've never come across that phenomenon before, even though I have a few relatives at international schools. I'll keep my ears pricked.

  5. That is some really really really SAD stuff. A country with no pride will fall into the toilet, no matter how much they try to kiss White people ass. In the short term it might get you some financial gain, but in the long term. You whole literature, history will be replaced with English literature and history. Your music will no longer exist your whole history destroyed.

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