Ex-Puteri Indonesia contestant under fire over anti-Chinese comments on Instagram

Former Puteri Indonesia 2015 finalist Olvah Bwefar Alhamid. Photo: Instagram/@olvaholvah
Former Puteri Indonesia 2015 finalist Olvah Bwefar Alhamid. Photo: Instagram/@olvaholvah

What’s more ironic than a self-proclaimed anti-racist ranting about the influx of foreigners?

That’s the question on a lot of people’s minds after watching a series of Instagram Stories by former Puteri Indonesia 2015 finalist Olvah Bwefar Alhamid complaining about too many Chinese nationals arriving at the airport.

In a series of posts that have circulated widely, Olvah showed herself arriving at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and later complaining about the arrival of many foreign nationals during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I’m so confused that there are still many foreign nationals who enter and exit [Indonesia], especially those from China. There were many of them at the Kendari airport, even more so at the Makassar airport, it felt like Beijing,” Olvah wrote in the caption.

“These people, they are all Chinese. They’re actually afraid of us, while they’re the ones who actually brought the disease into Indonesia,” the 31-year-old former beauty queen said in the recording.

Either Olvah knows something we don’t, or she simply doesn’t understand how transmissions work. 

In a repost of her Instagram stories above, Olvah concluded her remarks with racist mockery against those walking around her: “Hey, Chinese people! hey, ho-ha-ho!” 

Indonesian netizens quickly swarmed her Instagram page, commenting how her racist statements were contradicting the details in her own bio, where she describes herself as “an aspiring minister” and someone who was fighting racism and discrimination. 

Naturally, a clarification video followed. Olvah uploaded a four-minute apology to Instagram just yesterday.  

“I’d like to apologize profusely, deeply for what I’ve said in that video, which I shouldn’t have done. And whatever my explanation here does not justify my attitude at that time,” Olvah said.

Olvah, who’s half Papuan and half Arab, added that she and her family also faced racial discrimination from other ethnic groups in Indonesia, “especially from Chinese people,” in the past. She claimed that she received similar treatment from a Chinese national on the plane that day, which she said had “brought back her old wounds” and prompted her to say the hateful comments on Instagram.

While she said that her experience has inspired her to campaign for issues related to racism, this controversy would certainly put a stain on her activist resumé. She concluded her video with another apology and a promise to do better.

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