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Miss World Drops Bikini Contest, Adopts Indonesian Norms

  • VOA News

Winner of Miss Indonesia 2011 Astrid Ellena Indriana Yunadi, center right, stands with Miss World 2010, pageant final, Jakarta, June 4, 2011 (file photo).

Winner of Miss Indonesia 2011 Astrid Ellena Indriana Yunadi, center right, stands with Miss World 2010, pageant final, Jakarta, June 4, 2011 (file photo).

The Miss World contest says it will skip its usual bikini contest this year during its annual pageant on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Pageant officials say the contest will be adapting to the cultural norms of the conservative, Muslim majority country, where some conservatives have criticized the event.

Miss World organizer Budi Rustanto says the bikini competition will be transformed this year into a beach fashion show with all the contestants clad in traditional Balinese sarongs.

"Everything that is used during the event in Indonesia, like batik and kebaya traditional blouse, will have to be created by Indonesian designers," he said. "They also must use materials and foods from Indonesia. In short, they have to help promote tourism, to create the image that Indonesia is a safe and comfortable place, to further encourage investment in this country."

But the change does not seem to have satisfied many of the conservative Islamic critics of the event.

A number of scholars and Islamic organizations have urged the Indonesian government to cancel the pageant, saying it does not correspond to the values of Indonesian culture.

The Chairman of the Governing Board of the Centre Youth of Muhammadiyah, Saleh Partaonan Daulay, says there are more dignified ways to hold such a competition in Indonesia.

"Miss World is not compatible with Indonesia’s culture, traditions, and local wisdom," he said. "We do not judge a woman just by her physical beauty, since you have to judge someone as a whole, not just by looking at her facial and physical appearances, nor the way she walks."

Supporters of the contest say it will help promote tourism in Bali, which relies on visitors for a large part of its local economy. The competition opens on the majority Hindu island this week, and the finale will be held near Jakarta on September 28.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Indonesian service.

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