Miss World pageant must go on: Bali Governor

Miss World 2012 ceremony.

INDONESIA - Governor Made Mangku Pastika insisted that he would fully support the Miss World pageant in Bali next month, saying that there was no reason to reject it.

"The participants and organizers of the Miss World pageant have agreed to abide by our requirements related to the bikini ban, so there is no particular reason to continue opposing this world-class beauty pageant," Pastika said, adding that in one session participants would be required to wear Indonesian traditional costumes.

The governor said when meeting with the Miss World organizers in his office in Denpasar on Tuesday afternoon that the event would have a tremendous impact on Bali's tourism in particular, and Indonesia's in general.

"There will be more than 130 contestants from 130 countries, with more than 1,400 international journalists covering the event," said Pastika.

He was happy that the local and international organizers had agreed to acknowledge Indonesian cultural values.

Julia Morley, chairwoman of Miss World Organisation, said, as quoted by world media, including AP, Reuters and Fox News, that Indonesia was not the only country that had such a culture.

"We like to work in a manner respectful to every country, and I cannot see why when you go to somebody's country you should not behave respectfully," Morley said.

She also confirmed that none of the contestants would wear a bikini.

"Indonesia is designing for us very beautiful one-piece beachwear, and I am very happy with them," she told AP by phone from her headquarters in London.

The pageant, she said, would include a special beachwear fashion show.

It was reported earlier that the Miss World contestants would likely wear Balinese sarongs - a long cloth wrapped around the waist.

The pageant began in the 1950s and the first winner was crowned in a two-piece bathing suit.

Controversy over the pageant has been mounting in Indonesia, a country with a population of 240 million, which has a reputation as a tolerant, pluralist society that respects freedom of expression. However, some hard-line Muslim groups in the country have protested the event.

Indonesian representative, Miss Indonesia 2013, Vania Larissa, told Okezone in an exclusive interview recently that she would do her best to prepare for the beauty pageant.

Miss World 2012, Wenxia Yu from China, advised Larissa to be confident. During her reign as Miss World, Yu has been involved in charity and humanitarian work under the Beauty for Purpose programme, organised by the Miss World Organisation.

Meanwhile, as seen from Miss World's official Facebook and website, world audiences have started to pitch for their favorites.

The 23-year-old representative from Nicaragua, Luz Merry Decena, is among the people's choices, together with Miss Columbia, Karen Soto, because of their beauty and talent.

With only a few weeks remaining until the Miss World pageant, the provincial administration and people in the tourist industry are gearing up to prepare all the logistics, including tight security.

Around 1,000 police personnel will be deployed to secure the pageant. "Maintaining security for the Miss World event will be our test case for safeguarding other important world-class summits and conferences," Bali Police chief Insp. Gen. Arief Wahyunadi said recently.

Noted designer and artist Harry Dharsono, together with Balinese maestros, are now busy preparing the most spectacular performances to mark the opening of the Miss World pageant.