Monday, September 16, 2013


IBRAHIM ISA'S FOCUS Tuesday, September 10, 2013 ------------------------------------------- INDONSIA'S HOLD ON BHINNEKA TUNGGAL IKA – THE PHILOSOPHY OF MULTICULTURALISM * * * Miss World opens in Indonesia after protests The Associated Press, Denpasar, Bali | World | Sun, September 08 2013, 10:45 PM The 63rd edition of the Miss World pageant opened Sunday after protests by Muslim hard-liners confined the event to Indonesia's predominantly Hindu resort island of Bali. The opening ceremony, which was televised to 186 countries, featured Bali's Kecak Dance and a parade of all 131 contestants. Days of protests by Indonesian hard-line Muslim groups and the rejection of the contest by a leading clerics' organization forced the government to move the Sept. 28 final round to Bali. It was initially set to be held in Sentul, on the outskirts of the capital, Jakarta. Bali is the only Hindu-dominated province in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country. Controversy over the pageant has been mounting in Indonesia, which has a reputation as a tolerant, pluralist society that respects freedom of expression. The Indonesia Ulema Council, the country's most influential clerics' organization, and the hard-line groups Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia and Front for Islamic Defenders have urged the government to cancel the event. They have argued that the exposure of skin by women in a competition violates Muslim teachings, even after organizers agreed to cut the bikini competition and instead outfit contestants in more conservative sarongs. The chairwoman of the Miss World Organization, Julia Morley, has promised that none of the contestants will wear a bikini. The pageant began in the 1950s, and the first winner was crowned in a two-piece bathing suit. "We only want to try to find the best way of working together," Morley told a news conference Saturday in Bali. Most Muslims in Indonesia, a secular country of 240 million people, are moderate, but a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years. Lady Gaga was forced to cancel her sold-out concert in Indonesia in May following threats by Islamic hard-liners who called her a "devil worshipper." Jennifer Lopez toned down her sexy outfits and dance moves during a show in Jakarta last December. * * * Miss World pageant showcases RI’s cultures Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Nusa Dua, Bali | Headlines | Mon, September 09 2013, 9:52 AM The annual Miss World beauty pageant officially started on Sunday with a grand opening ceremony to welcome the arrival of 130 contestants from around the world, in an event showcasing the splendor and magnificence of Indonesia’s cultures. Held in The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali, the opening ceremony aired to more than 160 countries worldwide, combining traditional Indonesian dances and music performed by the contestants and local artists. The spectacular opening show started with performances by singers Novita Dewi, Kamasean Matthews and Daniel Christanto singing a medley of Indonesian songs, “Tanah Airku” and “Nyiur Hijau”, followed by 150 local dancers performing the famed kecak dance choreographed by Balinese artist I Ketut Rina. The 150-minute show, attended by hundreds of state officials and ambassadors and watched by an estimated two billion people around the world, continued with the parade of the beautiful contestants wearing dresses by Indonesian designers. Sixteen of the candidates were selected to perform Tari Kipas Cendana, an Indonesian dance specially created for this show by choreographer Eko Supriyanto. The dance combined the cultures of Halmahera, Sunda, Java and Bali, accompanied by an acculturation of various traditional musical instruments. “It was a first-time experience for the contestants to learn this kipas dance. They were very enthusiastic and learned quite fast. After a total seven hours of practice, they were already able to perform it well,” said John Fair, head of production and operations for Miss World 2013. With the theme “Bring Indonesia’s Beauty to the World”, the entire series of events of Miss World 2013, organized by Miss World Organization and its local partner MNC Group, ran on schedule, despite mounting protests from Islamic hard-line groups in several cities across Indonesia. The organizers have promised that all activities in the event would be in accordance with Indonesian culture. “It’s an honor for Indonesia to host Miss World 2013, where 130 nations’ ambassadors will be competing to be crowned Miss World 2013. This is a time for Indonesia to show its natural and cultural beauty to the world,” said Liliana Tanoesoedibjo, chairwoman of the Miss Indonesia Organization. “This event aims to spread the message to international society that Indonesia is a safe, peaceful, beautiful place with over 17,000 islands, united by a bountiful sea, with its plural society comprising over 700 ethnicities and 500 local languages that honor the differences and preserve rich local genius, history and cultures.” In spite of the protests, the organizing committee said the contestants felt very welcomed in Indonesia. ”We feel very welcomed to be here. I believe that by being here, we can share and do something good together. This is a very great opportunity for Indonesia, as the first country in Southeast Asia selected to host this event,” said Julia Morley, chairwoman and chief executive of Miss World 2013. The contestants started their activities last Wednesday, one day after their arrival in Bali. They took turns making photos and videos for their profiles, with the backdrop of the island’s natural beauty. On the sidelines of the filming sessions, the contestants practiced exhibiting their talents for the upcoming talent show. Vania Larissa, Indonesia’s contestant, will sing “Seriosa” while playing the sasando, a traditional musical instrument from East Nusa Tenggara. “I have prepared a lot of things for the talent show and all the fast tracks. My mission is to bring Indonesia to the world, and I hope all the contestants will enjoy their time here,” Vania said. During the contest, the contestants will compete in six award categories: the talent competition, beach fashion, top model, sports and fitness, beauty with a purpose and the world fashion designer award. After the opening show, the event will continue with Miss World 2013 top model on Sept. 20, while the final show will be on Sept. 28. On Saturday, the government announced that the entire series of events would be held in Bali, including the final show that had previously been scheduled to take place in Sentul, West Java. MNC Group said it would hold further discussions with the government concerning the change. “We will have further talks with the government to reaffirm our commitment that this event will not violate legal, social and religious norms that we all adhere to,” said Arief Suditomo, head of media affairs for Miss World 2013. “Various technical aspects, like the venue, accommodation, transportation and all the arrangements, have been implemented according to the schedule. It’s not easy and simple to change it.” * * * Govt bows to pressure, scraps Miss World event in Sentul Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Nusa Dua | Headlines | Sun, September 08 2013, 8:50 AM Increasing protest from hard-line groups over the 2013 Miss World beauty pageant – which is slated to be held in Bali and Sentul in West Java from Sept. 8 to 28 – has seemingly forced the government to drop Sentul as one of the event hosts. Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono announced on Saturday that now all of the pageant events, from the opening ceremony to the coronation night, would be held in Bali. However, contestants, he continued, would be allowed to visit other provinces, but not as part of the program series. “We take this decision after considering the pros and cons of the event for both the public and the organizer,” Agung said. In the initial schedule, after the first week of events came to an end in Bali, all 129 contestants from around the globe would then travel to Jakarta, where they would compete in different events culminating with the final on Sept. 28 in Sentul at the Sentul International Convention Center (SICC). The contest, however, has drawn protests from Islamic hard-line groups across the country in the days leading up to the pageant. The groups protested the decision to host Miss World in the country, calling it as an “immoral event”. The absence of a bikini round in the contest has failed to appease the hard-liners. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), for instance, has conveyed its disagreement with the event, saying that the pageant was not in line with Islamic teachings. Radical groups the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic People’s Forum (FUI) have also demanded the government cancel the event. Before the decision to pull Sentul as an event site, West Java Deputy Governor Deddy Mizwar said on Friday the contest should not be held in Sentul if it drew protests. “This is controversial, isn’t it? If this contest will create unsafe conditions, I think it would be better to avoid this [and cancel the event in Sentul],” he said, as quoted by Antara news agency. West Java is a Muslim majority province, which is reported to have the highest number of cases of violence against minority religious groups. National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo disagreed with the notion that the cancellation of the closing ceremony in Sentul was due to threats from hard-liners. To secure the event in Bali, he said the Police would cooperate with local police and residents to guarantee safety at all venues used for the event. Tourism and Creative Economy Deputy Minister Sapta Nirwandar also said the cancellation was not related to pressure from radical groups. “There is no way that the government is afraid of any hard-liners,” Sapta said. He said the event should be seen as a good thing for Indonesia because it would help promote the country, especially Bali, to the international world. “Just imagine all the contestants from hundreds of countries telling their families, friends and colleagues about Indonesia back home. Don’t you think that it is good thing?” he said. The sudden decision shocked the Miss World committee, as it came a few hours after the committee had held a separate press conference in Nusa Dua, Bali, where they expressed their optimism that the event would run smoothly despite mounting protests from hard-liners. “This is an unexpected decision. Can you imagine it? It’s only three weeks before the finale then suddenly there is such a change,” Arief Suditomo, head of media affairs for the 2013 Miss World, told The Jakarta Post. “This time around, we cannot release an official statement on the changes […] But one thing is for sure: Tomorrow’s event [the opening ceremony on Sunday in Bali] will be on schedule,” he added. Commenting on the protest, Julia Morley, chairwoman of the Miss World Organization, said she was convinced the organizers had no intention of offending anyone and the event would be held “with full respect to local cultures”. “They have the right to say what they want to say, but it would be very nice to talk to us first, to find out about us, because there are many beauty contests, and they might be confused,” she said. “I would like them to give us the opportunity to show what we are.” (koi) * * *

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