updated 30 Apr 2012, 08:10
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Mon, Apr 30, 2012
The New Paper
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Best of both worlds
by Maureen Koh

AFTER all the lights and glamour, there was no pudgy bikini-clad beauty queen. Indeed, Miss May Hsu made quite an impression with her verbal skills at the Miss Singapore World 2011 Coronation at Suntec City Convention Hall Ballroom last night.

And what of the other contestants?

They, too, deserved credit.

Most of the 10 finalists - picked from an initial round of 20 - did relatively well in both question-and-answer rounds that ultimately decided their fate.

Miss Hsu, 21, was asked by MediaCorp artiste Gurmit Singh, who was one of the 10 judges, in the final round: If you had to pick between wealth and looks, what would it be?

The biomedical student and private tutor gamely replied: "I'd go for wealth because it's a more logical answer.

"As we know, as technology progresses, we'd have the ability to do plastic surgery. If you have the money, you can change your looks."

Her confidence eventually won Miss Hsu the coveted crown and sceptre, which cost nearly $30,000, and more than $10,000 in cash and prizes.

She gets to keep the crown and sceptre.

And she will represent Singapore in the pageant's international edition in London in November.

Miss Hsu also picked up a subsidiary title, Miss Transformation.

Who did she thank?

Not her mum, dad or boyfriend, but her maternal aunt.

Said Miss Hsu in her victory speech: "Without her, I won't be standing here. Without her, I won't have the strength to carry on."

She told The New Paper later: "My aunt has been my moral support since I was young and she has always encouraged me in whatever I set out to do."

Poise and wit saved the night.

There was a buzz when first-time organiser Limelite Productions decided to give the pageant an overhaul by ditching the bikini segment.

People had wondered what was the purpose of the beauty contest without a flesh parade.

Earlier this year, Miss World CEO Julia Morley had slammed the local pageant as "having a showgirl club image" and picked Limelite's Mr Raymund Ooi to revamp it.

The previous franchisee was Mr Alex Liu, managing director of ERM World Marketing, which had run the contest for the past seven years.

Mr Ooi finally made the decision to reduce the bikini section to a quick walk-through last night.

And it was certainly brisk, considering that it took barely six minutes for the 20 contestants to strut the 50m-long catwalk.

Mr Ooi, 46, said: "We felt it was still necessary to showcase the girls in their swimwear. But they didn't have to take to answering questions in bikinis."

Instead, judges had evaluated the girls' physiques at a separate beach event at the Wave House Sentosa in July.

Said Mr Ooi: "It didn't dent the night's programme and we could focus on other aspects." The move was more in line with the slogan that the Miss World competition has been associated with: Beauty with a purpose.

Community Chest

Mr Ooi brought national fund-raiser Community Chest on board and had the contestants visit three children's homes to learn how to take care of spastic children and children with intellectual or physical disabilities.

In the grand finale segment, 20 children from Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds), Woodlands Gardens School, accompanied the contestants for their final catwalk on stage.

Another impressive finalist was first runner-up Benazir Beevi, 21, an early childhood teacher.

She was asked if the Obedient Wives Club concept in Malaysia would take root here.

Miss Beevi dismissed it, saying: "In Singapore, the women are more knowledgeable and it's because they are given more exposure.

"They also have more opportunities to pursue their career and studies, whereas in Malaysia, they believe that the women should play the role of a mother."

She picked up three other titles: Miss Elegant, Miss Crowning Glory and Kebaya Queen.

Miss Singapore World 1988 Teo Ser Lee, who was the main trainer for this year's contestants, said: "I can spot one or two unpolished gems, but most of them are still rather raw."

Miss Teo attributed it to the short time that the girls have had to prepare for the competition.

She said: "Given more time, we can do more and they will definitely fare better."

Other awards:

Miss Radiance: Lee Hui Ying
Miss Elegant: Benazir Beevi
Miss Transformation: May Hsu
Miss Photogenic: Evelyn Magdalena Tjoe
Miss Crowning Glory: Benazir Beevi
Miss Personality: Ng Shi Wah
Miss Popularity: Elle Xue Yi Ling
Best Grace: Kuek Zi Yi
Kebaya Queen: Benazir Beevi

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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