updated 14 May 2009, 20:49
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Mon, May 11, 2009
The New Paper
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Girls get catty over her
by Jeanmarie Tan

THINGS have taken an ugly turn behind the scenes of the country's biggest beauty pageant.

This year's Miss Singapore Universe is abuzz with talk of how one contestant allegedly skipped the preliminary audition rounds and compulsory activities and has been brought in midway to win the crown.

The finals tonight at Shangri-La Hotel will be judged by a panel comprising the organiser, sponsors and international fashion designer Narcisa Pheres.

An e-mail received by The New Paper said the contestant's 'sudden' appearance caused unhappiness among the other contestants.

The preliminary audition was held in January.

Of more than 30 hopefuls interviewed, 16 made it to the finals.

Our source claimed that a few days later, an additional address - belonging to Rachel Kum - appeared in the cc list of an e-mail to the 16 finalists by organiser Derrol Stepenny Promotions. It appeared that it was only then that the others knew she was the 17th finalist.

The 24-year-old manager in the medical industry was a finalist in The New Paper New Face pageant in 2007.

The source claimed that Rachel was absent from a supposedly compulsory old folks' home visit on 14 Feb, as part of the pageant's community service work, as well as a dress fitting for the preview show at the Rotary Club a few days later.

The source added: 'This left (the contestants) bewildered, as it seemed that she had been allowed to skip all the preliminary activities and selections and was allowed directly into the finals.

'It seems she was only conveniently included after some 'compulsory' activities like social work at a home for the elderly.'

When contacted, Mr Daryl Pang, the business and promotions director of Derrol Stepenny Promotions, said he was 'shocked' at the rumours.

He insisted Rachel had followed the proper procedure of entry from the beginning and that he has photos of her at the grooming classes to prove it.

The number of finalists is not fixed and varies from year to year, but usually average 16. This year, the number stands at 13 after four girls quit.

Mr Pang clarified that during the auditions, the girls were divided into batches who were told to turn up at different days and times.

He may have not included Rachel in the e-mailing list earlier 'by mistake' and she wasn't the only girl who didn't make it for the events mentioned by the source.


Reiterating that no special concessions were made for Rachel, Mr Pang said: 'These accusations are ridiculous and utter nonsense. I've nothing to hide and I'm telling the truth.'

Rachel is considered to be the front-runner by some of her fellow contestants and is leading the polls on NS Portal's Predict The Winner online contest. Also popular are Emiko Thein, 20, and April Wang, 19.

All three girls won various Rotary Club ambassador awards at the preview show, and were picked by a panel of judges appointed by the club.

When contacted about the controversy, Rachel sounded irked. She said: 'Of course I'm not happy about it. But there's nothing much I can do. If others are not happy with things, so be it.'

She declined to comment further.

One contestant, who has participated in a number of pageants, said: 'Some of the contestants can get quite jealous... maybe someone out there is trying to spoil her chances.

'But I wouldn't put Rachel down though.

'All this doesn't affect me that much. I just close one eye.'

According to her, one of the finalists had withdrawn from the competition because she felt the winner had been fixed.

But when contacted, this finalist claimed the primary reason she dropped out was that her university overseas attachment clashed with the finals.

Preferring to remain anonymous, she also insisted she was 'neutral' about the backstage backbiting.

Former Miss Singapore Universe Jessica Tan said: 'I certainly didn't feel like (my win in 2007) was rigged.

'There was bitching of course - people saying the media called me a hot favourite and therefore I stood a higher chance of winning - but it wasn't as vicious as this.'

Jessica felt that whether or not Rachel wears the crown tonight, it will unfortunately be a 'no-win situation' for her.

She said: 'People always remember the bad things, and this is going to be a part of her... but it'll blow over in time.

'I'd advise her to take it in her stride because once you have a profile, you'll get the good and the bad.'


This article was first published in The New Paper.

readers' comments
Rachel came in much later n did not go thru the prelimanary rounds.Ask the other contestants n they will confirm. Isnt that breaking the pageant rules? Or organisers can do wat they like? Also,final round was supposed to be based solely on QnA. The event organiser himself told the contestants the night before. We all know she flopped completely on that.Two new judges were brought in for the final n guess wat,they r the organisers! Why wasted everyone's time n energy especially the honest contestants when its gonna be rig? Should have just send her to bahamas without all the charades. Shame on the organisers n the one wearing the crown. Live with yourself Rachel knowing wat u did n the deceits.
Posted by moonlighting on Thu, 14 May 2009 at 04:46 AM
sure is embarrassing to read in today's straits times. she has the crown - how did she get it? she can't talk properly, using bad unladylike words. How to win in august in big contest? why didn't get help from past good experienced beauty queens like Eunice Olsen and Teo Ser Lee? Who did the coaching? singapore beauty queen don't know etiquette. don't know much - did the judges ask her in which CONTINENT she will compete next? sure don't know one.....sigh, waste of time and money.
Posted by goodytoo on Mon, 11 May 2009 at 08:09 AM


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