Indonesian President Answers English Question with Silence


From Berita Satu and Detik:

In New York, SBY confused when presented with questions in English

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s [SBY] recent visit to New York, USA can be considered successful, even though his anti-blasphemy resolution proposals were not fully applauded on the international stage.

However, it all fell apart in an embarrassing incident during a press conference.

The incident began when a press conference was held to discuss the Post-2015 Development Agenda by the Secretary General of the United Nations High Level Panel. The press conference was attended by SBY, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who were all heads of the panel.

Everyone’s attention was drawn towards SBY when an European radio reporter asked SBY in English about his anti-blasphemy resolution proposal. Instead of answering the reporter, SBY, who is usually fond of using English terms during official state meetings, was completely silent.

SBY was silent for quite a long time. As it was described, he raised his eyebrows and scanned the audience to look for a translator.


When the reporter repeated the question after a long period of silence, the President turned towards Sirleaf and Cameron, but they did not help the president.

Finally, SBY was rescued by a translator who went through a crowd of journalists and security personnel in order to assist the President.

In reality, there were many other Indonesian officials who were present at the press conference. One of them was Hasan Kleib, the Director General of Multilateral, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was located closest to the podium. However, he was not the person who came to SBY’s rescue. In the end, the translator was the one person brave enough to go up to the podium.

After being assisted [by the translator], SBY was able to answer the question. However, he refused to elaborate his answer further since the question was irrelevant to the topic of discussion.

A number of foreign journalists were seen making jokes after the incident. One reporter said. “Indonesians are indeed confusing,” which drew laughter from his colleagues.


Comments from Kaskus and Yahoo!:




Nobita’s dad [a character from Doraemon anime] is so embarrassing!
Hopefully the next Indonesia President in 2014 will use the Indonesian language, instead of pretending to be British! Hahahhaa….


Don’t disrespect him! Even though he might be like that, he’s still our president.


How could he black out like that? Seemed like he could speak [English] well when he was talking to the CEO of the NYSE [New York Stock Exchange]. This might be due to lack of concentration.


That’s why [the Indonesian president] should designate Bahasa Indonesia as the international language…


Maybe the reporter spoke too fast or has a different accent… Don’t just immediately assume Mr. SBY is a disgrace/embarrassment!


The president and vice president candidates for the 2014 presidential election should be required to have a minimum TOEFL score of 500 points, boss!


Respect his effort, boss… We might not be able to do it if we were placed in his shoes…

SBY is Speechless during Press Conference


Is he really unable to speak English despite having so many education degrees?


The cat caught your tongue, beye [President nickname]. That’s why you shouldn’t be a smart-ass and use English in your speeches.


He’s such an embarrassment. He often uses English when giving speech in Indonesia but why is he stuttering now?


It’s indeed more challenging to understand the British [English] accent, compared to the USA’s [American accent].


Now we’re [Indonesians] also part of the embarrassment since the reporters were making fun of us.


Why didn’t he just answer the question in Indonesian so it’d be fair for all parties? =)


Don’t be too harsh, guys.. Do you think you could do it? No matter how good your English might be, it is still not your own native language.


SBY is such an embarrassment to all Indonesians!


He’s just a human being, nobody is perfect!

What do you think? Was this an embarrassment? Should heads of state be fluent in English? Is American English or British English easier to understand?


Share This Article
Help us maintain a vibrant and dynamic discussion section that is accessible and enjoyable to the majority of our readers. Please review our Comment Policy »
Personals @ chinaSMACK - Meet people, make friends, find lovers? Don't be so serious!»