Sat, 12 Aug 2000

City couple to be elected Saturday

JAKARTA (JP): Thirty young men and women will find out on Saturday night whether they will win the coveted title of Abang dan None Jakarta (Mr. and Miss Jakarta) which might lead them to the road of fame, at least in the capital.

The head of the Jakarta Tourism Office, Parlindungan Hutabarat, said the event, a tradition here since 1971 will be broadcasted live and will hopefully "cool the tense situation in the capital (during the Annual Session of the People's Consultative Assembly) and increase community appreciation in the city."

The grand final at the Jakarta Convention Center in Central Jakarta will feature traditional dancing and other entertainment.

Fifteen couples have been selected from 729 contestants from across the city. Their intelligence and personality were monitored from July 30 to Aug. 5.

Arief Rachman, an educator and a jury member in charge of the religious and character aspect of selection, said contestants were screened through discussions, individual presentation, and also knowledge of native Jakartans' (Betawi) attire and customs.

He said the criteria for selecting finalists also included knowledge of city tourism, communication ability, foreign language competence and characteristics compatible with their responsibilities should they win.

The Abang dan None contest is usually held in conjunction with the celebration of Jakarta's anniversary, which falls on June 22, and the country's Independence Day on Aug. 17.

The contest began in 1968 when then governor Ali Sadikin decided that he needed a "None" to help him in protocol tasks, such as greeting city visitors. In 1971, the city administration decided to find her a male partner.

Prizes usually include tickets to go abroad, cash and prizes from sponsors. (07)