Indonesian beauty queen under fire for butchering Q&A at Miss Eco International pageant

Indonesia’s Intan Wisni Permatasari and her interpreter during her Q&A round at the Miss Eco International 2020 pageant. Photo: Video screengrab
Indonesia’s Intan Wisni Permatasari and her interpreter during her Q&A round at the Miss Eco International 2020 pageant. Photo: Video screengrab

Q&A sessions at beauty contests offer little aside from the opportunity for contestants to express platitudes, but any slip ups can place them under intense scrutiny back home, as is happening with an Indonesian beauty queen.

Intan Wisni Permatasari, Indonesia’s bet for the Miss Eco International 2020 pageant that just wrapped up in Egypt, is being called an embarrassment in her home country following her disastrous showing at the Q&A session of the contest.

Did you catch any of that? Neither did we, at first.

Intan, who made it to the top 10 by this point, faced the jury for her interview round. As she doesn’t speak English, the host called for an interpreter to come up and assist Intan. One eventually walked up to the stage following a brief moment of confusion (hence the host’s “yay, there is one” remark), which hinted at more unpreparedness to come.

English proficiency is not, and should not be, a requirement to take part in beauty pageants, so Intan using an interpreter was absolutely fair game. Yet when the jury asked her to give a remark on illegal immigrants, even her interpreter was seemingly confused by her answer.

“Illegal immigration is where one state and immigration that is ratified and allowed by that state, and having some approval like some treaty for said state and producing some legal standing including in the United Nations. Sorry. Thank you,” Intan said.

After a brief pause, the interpreter translated Intan’s answer as such: “The illegal immigration is contradiction to the law, who the law that the United Nation has committed law.”

Netizens have been throwing the blame for the horror showing in all directions, including at Intan for her inability to string words together to form a coherent sentence, and at organizers for sending someone so unprepared to compete in the contest. Many, however, sympathized with the interpreter.

“Don’t blame the interpreter because the language of his source was confusing. I feel sorry for the emergency interpreter,” one commenter wrote.

Intan reportedly offered an explanation on Instagram, saying that she is someone who gets nervous easily and that she had not brushed up on the issue of illegal immigration prior to the contest. However, her post has been removed and she has not addressed her performance in the round since. 

In case you’re wondering, Intan did not win the Miss Eco International 2020 title, which went to South Africa’s Gizzelle Mandy Uys.

Intan may yet take comfort in the fact that she was not the first Indonesian beauty queen to be branded an embarrassment in their home country. Among the first to wear that undesired crown was Miss Indonesia 2006 Nadine Chandrawinata, who, with her limited English proficiency, said “Indonesia is a beautiful city” in a video interview for that year’s Miss Universe contest.

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