updated 25 Jan 2012, 05:26
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Sun, Jan 30, 2011
The New Paper
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'It's like a showgirl club'
by Charlene Chua

SHE'S kind, smart and beautiful.

If you think that doesn't quite describe our last few Miss World Singapores, rest assured.

The British chairman and CEO of Miss World Limited, Ms Julia Morley (below left), has heard your cries.

That's precisely the reason why she's recently appointed a new licensee for Miss World Singapore.

From this year, the pageant will be organised by Mr Raymund Ooi of Limelite Productions.

He takes over from Mr Alex Liu, the managing director of ERM World Marketing (ERM), who has been organising the pageant here for the past seven years.

Ms Morley, who has owned the Miss World brand for the last 40 years, said people have e-mailed and told her that Singapore's pageant hasn't produced winners who have been active in charity work, among other things.

She told The New Paper: "I was shocked to hear that the representation of the Miss World brand has been diluted to such a degree here that I don't recognise it anymore.

"The girls are being paraded in bikinis and the show has become more for a showgirl club type of image.

"The show's judging panel must think of who will make a good ambassador for Singapore, not who has the biggest... you know."

She revealed that the situation was similar in Malaysia and the Philippines. She has appointed new licensees in these two countries as well.

The humanitarian was in town for a visit on Wednesday with the reigning Miss World, Miss Alexandria Mills (Miss USA) and first runner-up, Miss Emma Wareus (Miss Botswana).

Ms Morley admitted she has neglected the Miss World contest here, as she has been focusing on her work in Africa and other parts of Asia. In the UK, she's also the international president of Variety The Children's Charity.

But she's back to turns things around and reinstate the high standards that the pageant used to be associated with in the 80s, she said.

And if the Miss World Singapore pageant this year (in early September) draws contestants of a high calibre, Ms Morley said that she is keen on holding the Miss World finals in Singapore in 2012.

There are 130 nations that participate in international Miss World pageant and the show is watched in 178 countries. Previous finals have been held in China and South Africa.

Said Ms Morley: "I love Singapore and we want to bring the finals here only if people are happy to have us here, you know?

"But if they all think is that the contest is at a low level, they wouldn't understand the value of the show and the kind of good work that we do."

Ms Morley said that Miss World has typically worked a lot with children's charities and to date, the brand has raised more than £400 million (S$816 million) in aid of needy children all over the world.

Said Ms Morley, recalling a child she helped here: "I was here 20 years ago, and I remember this boy who had cancer. His name was Chua Boon Huat.

"I brought him to the UK for surgery and got him a black-and-white television here when he joked about how it was always broken down.

"I came back to Singapore to see him again before he died, and he said that he was waiting to see me when I got to him at the hospital."


As for Mr Liu and ERM, Ms Morley said "it's a different show that he's running and he's not running it with us (the Miss World brand) in mind".

She added that ERM was also doing many other pageants and her ideal for the Miss World brand was a company that runs only the Miss World pageant.

On its website, ERM said that it also does a string of events including Manhunt International, Miss Bikini International, Miss All Nations, Miss Tourism Queen International (Chinese Version), Miss Tourism Queen International (English Version) and Miss Global Beauty Queen.

Could the decision to appoint a new licensee also be because of a certain Ris Low, we asked.

Ms Low, who had won Miss World Singapore 2009, was dethroned when her past credit charge fraud conviction came to light.

But Ms Morley said that she hadn't heard about the scandal.

When told about Low's rise to fame in the last two years read, "rad bikini" and "leopard preens" Ms Morley said that she felt sad for her.

"It's a shame that she's been put through this.

"If she's a poor, ignorant girl, then you (the licensee) should help these girls.

"She shouldn't have been put in a position to represent Singapore yet. We want to help young women, not degrade them."

Although she hasn't met Low, Ms Morley has met the other Miss World Singapore winners over the past few years.

Said Ms Morley: "They are very pleasant young women. You can't dislike them because they are only represented by the help that they have been given."

Ms Tracy Lee, events consultant at ERM, said it was a business decision - and not the Low incident - to discontinue as licensee for Miss Singapore World.

This is because the licensee fees are "high into five figures" and the sponsorship obtained here does not justify the pageant expenses.

Said Ms Lee: "This is a beauty contest where the girls must have a good figure and complexion, so if they do not parade in swimwear, what do they wear?

"And just because we do not publicise our charity work does not mean the girls have not done their part of charity work."

She said that the contestants had raised more than $120,000 for the victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

"If you want the contest to be glamorous and be a huge production, there must be financial support from either government agencies, TV station or the private sector each year to finance the event, which we do not always get."

She added: "So with what little funds which we raised each year, ERM has done the best it can with the limited resources to produce the Miss Singapore World pageant."

So what should the ideal Miss World Singapore be like and what qualities must she possess?

According to Ms Morley, firstly she must be someone who likes, understands Singapore and has the confidence to promote charity work and her home country overseas.

She must also have a good heart and be intelligent.

Said Ms Morley: "If she hasn't got money that's not her fault, so we are here to help her and groom her.

"She must learn how to dress, walk, speak well and even do things like holding a microphone properly.

"I want Singaporeans to go, 'This is our girl and we'll all get behind her as a country'.

"Please let's give this girl the status she deserves'."

$40,000 prize for winner?

HE MAY have created Singa the lion, which was the official 1993 South-east Asian Games mascot, but can he find the ideal Miss World Singapore?

Limelite Productions owner Raymund Ooi, 46, is the new licensee of Miss World Singapore.

And in a bid to attract women of high calibre to join the Miss World Singapore pageant, he's willing to put up an attractive cash prize for its winner.

Said Mr Ooi: "In Malaysia, they have offered a RM100,000 ($40,000) cash prize for the winner, so I'm hoping to match that.

"I think $40,000 plus the trip to the Miss World finals, which can cost up to $15,000, is quite attractive."

Mr Ooi said he accepted the appointment as the new licensee with the goal of hosting the Miss World finals in Singapore in 2012.

The agreement is that he will remain the licensee for as long as he is able to run the pageant satisfactorily.

Stringent checks

Hosting such a large-scale pageant show doesn't come cheap. According to Mr Ooi, the cost can run up to a few million dollars.

Being the licensee alone, he said, will easily cost him between $200,000 and $500,000 per year.

But if there's one thing that he'll definitely do other than engaging a credible panel of judges to pick excellent pageant contestants, it's carrying out stringent checks on the finalists of Miss World Singapore.

This is to avoid another Ris Low debacle. She was dethroned when her credit card fraud conviction was exposed after she was crowned Miss World Singapore.

This is the first time Mr Ooi is running a beauty pageant. His production company specialises in theme construction such as the artificial environment for Jurassic Park at Resorts World Sentosa.

Said Mr Ooi: "I just hope (with my effort) that Singaporeans will receive the Miss World Singapore pageant better.

"Also, I hope it will garner support from the Singapore Tourism Board as well."

Ris: I'm going to join again

WHEN The New Paper told Ris Low that changes are being made to the Miss World Singapore pageant, such as the possibility of a $40,000 prize being offered, her response took us by surprise.

The 25-year-old said: "I'm going to join again! I'm serious, I'm going to join the Miss World Singapore pageant again!

"In comparison, the prize for the pageant that I joined was the $2,000 trip to South Africa for the Miss World finals. There was no cash prize."

She admitted that she felt that ERM World Marketing didn't give enough support in terms of things like the sponsored gowns worn by the contestants.

Ms Low said that the ex-licensee could have found better sponsors and cited how contestants from other countries were decked out in designer gowns for the pageant.

She was crowned Miss World Singapore 2009 but was later dethroned after she was found to have been involved in a credit card fraud case.

She said she would have benefited if she had been put through classes to teach her to walk, dress and "basically (how to work) the whole package".

Said Ms Low: "I'm joining the pageant again because I feel that if I had been given the chance to represent Singapore (instead of being dethroned), I could have shone.

"Now, if I can get lessons on how to be a top beauty queen, then I definitely want to show the public that I can do this based on my own merit."


This article was first published in The New Paper.


More stories:


Ris Low: A beauty queen fallen from grace
Gaining fame by infamy 
Offer beauty queens better perks such as university scholarships
Miss Singapore World 2010 : Anusha Rajaseharan 




readers' comments
Zip-Bra Low, after you utter so many F words during the many interviews do you honestly you posses the quality and decency to represent Singapore at a Miss World pageant?

The mere inclusion of your name into the contestants list would have tarnish the other participants.
Posted by micky2008 on Tue, 1 Feb 2011 at 14:00 PM

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