Vietnam’s entrant to the 11th Mister International pageant had a disappointing finale on Monday night when translation errors led to an off-topic answer during the competition's interview portion.
Nguyen Tien Dat, a 22-year-old bodybuilding coach from northern Vietnam, was the country’s proud entrant to the competition in Thailand after placing second in a national pageant held last year.
Dat’s confidence and charm gave him favor over the last crown-holder, according to the agency responsible for sending Vietnamese entrants to the international competition.
The Vietnamese heart-throb was considered amongst the top contenders for the competition’s highest title, after advancing his way into the top six and winning a side award for the sexiest smile.
Nguyen Tien Dat in a yellow gown prepared for his traditional costume contest at Mister International 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre
However, as the competition wrapped up on Monday evening, Dat’s incompetence in English was revealed by his request for help from an interpreter appointed by the event’s organizers to translate his interview question.
The question, originally asked in English, was “What do you think is the next big thing in your country in the next decade?”
The first mishap happened when the Vietnamese interpreter made her first mistake, translating “next decade” into “next year” in Vietnamese.
Having not fully understood the question, Dat asked to have it repeated.
The mistake continued, this time with the interpreter entirely changing the question to “What is the biggest thing about your country that you will have to think about in the next year?” in Vietnamese.
Confused by the question, Dat gave a vague answer commenting on Vietnam’s global integration.
“Vietnam is on its way to global integration but we are still left behind, so I think in the next year our country will need to further expand its global integration,” Dat said hesitantly in his mother tongue.
The problem just went on as the interpreter incorrectly translated Dat’s answer into a response regarding immigrants.
“We think that the biggest thing for our country is we must open wide to welcome everybody from every country come to our country [sic],” the interpreter said in beginners’ English.
Nguyen Tien Dat’s interview question and answer in the finale night of Mister International 2017 in Thailand, February 13, 2017. Clip: YouTube
The disappointing performance forced Dat out of the competition, paving the way for Lebanese contestant Paul Iskandar to be crowned Mister International 2017.
Prior to the event, Dat had gained attention for saying that he would answer the interview question in Vietnamese, as “using Vietnamese in an international competition is the true definition of class."
Dat is not the first Vietnamese entrant at an international pageant whose English has proven to be a significant stumbling block.
In 2016, the Vietnamese contestant for the Miss Earth beauty pageant also had a forgettable night after the translation of her Q&A topic did not quite go as planned.