Mon, 31 Mar 2003

Freddy, Caroline elected as `Koko' and `Cici' 2003

Sari P. Setiogi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Freddy Sue and Caroline Widjanarko were elected Koko and Cici Jakarta 2003 during a pageant here on Saturday night.

Along with Freddy and Caroline, 15 other pairs of Chinese- Indonesian youths between the ages of 18 and 25 took part in the Koko and Cici Jakarta pageant at the Hotel Batavia.

Spokesman Anda Hakim said this was the second time the pageant had been held, the first being last year. "Koko" in Mandarin means elder brother, while "cici" means elder sister.

Anda said the pageant cost more than Rp 200 million (US$22,200) to stage. He said the pageant was started to improve the image of the Chinese-Indonesian community and to promote interethnic relationships.

Anda, who is also the chairman of the Indonesian Chinese Muslim Association, said the pageant finalists would serve as tourism ambassadors for the city.

The head of the panel of judges at the pageant, Syamsul Arfan Akilie from the West Jakarta municipality, told The Jakarta Post that it was hoped the pageant would encourage ethnic Chinese to think of themselves as part of Indonesia.

"More participation by Chinese-Indonesians in many sectors of the country's life is expected. And they should think of themselves as Indonesians, not as Chinese.

"It is also expected that other ethnic groups will open the Chinese-Indonesian community with open arms, and vice versa," Syamsul said.

"As Koko Jakarta 2003, I want to show people that Indonesia is a democratic country. And I want to say that Jakarta, as a multiethnic city, should experience no more racial strife between the different ethnic groups," said Freddy Sue.

The runner-up Cici, F. Jessy Darmawan, 20, a law student at the University of Indonesia, told the Post that as an Indonesian citizen she wanted to help the country's tourist industry, which has suffered since last year's Bali bombings.

One Koko contestant, Sarjono, a finance management student at Tarumanegara University in West Jakarta, told the Post that he hoped Indonesian could foster interethnic relationships like they have in Malaysia.

"There are many ethnic groups in Malaysia, but they live in peace. I believe we can also have that here as well," he said.

Sarjono's grandparents came from Singapore and he speaks fluent Mandarin. "My family communicates in Mandarin every day, and we still celebrate the Chinese traditional days."

Speaking fluent in Mandarin was an advantage in the pageant, but was not a requirement.

Cici Jakarta 2003 winner Caroline, whose bears a bit of a resemblance to actress Agnes Monica, said she rarely spoke Mandarin at home.

"But I am familiar with it since I work for Radio Cakrawala, which required me to be fluent in Mandarin," Caroline said.

Radio Cakrawala is a Mandarin-language radio station in Jakarta.

Dian Wulan Paramita SM, who is studying public relations at Global Reach in Bogor, West Java, said she could not speak Mandarin.

"We mostly use English at home. Even my grandparents no longer speak Mandarin," she said.

Wulan also said she had friends from many different ethnic groups. "I never feel like someone from a minority ethnic group. We all just mingle together."