Saturday, August 20

Up close and personal with local beauties


(Seated from left) Naomi, Larissa and Francisca together with Miss World Malaysia 2018 stage director Smyth Wong Kai Lee (standing) after the interview yesterday.

KUCHING: Three Sarawakian beauties will vie for the title of Miss World Malaysia 2018 at the grand finals to be held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) on Sept 8.

Larissa Ping Liew, Francisca Luhong James and Naomi Sim will be competing against nine other finalists for the coveted crown and represent Malaysia on the world stage.

With the theme ‘Beauty With A Purpose’ the pageant will act as an instrumental platform for beauty queens to reach out to the people and become role models to the global community.

Larissa Ping Liew, 19 years old

The youngest finalist, Larissa, of Chinese and Kenyah parentage is passionate and aspires to set up her own charity programme to help the indigenous people in Sarawak.

“This pageant will provide me a platform to kick-start my programme,” said Larissa when interviewed by The Borneo Post yesterday.

She added that Miss World Malaysia is unlike any other pageants as it provides a chance for beauty queens to help the underprivileged – a key factor which spurred her to participate.

According to her, a lot of Sarawakians especially those in the remote areas are still left behind such as the Penans.

“My role as a finalist and hopefully as Miss World Malaysia is to reach out to them in a continuous and sustainable way. I want to see and build a young generation who can be future leaders of their own sub-ethnic groups,” she added.

She shared her experience of teaching 40 students at a refugee school in Myanmar which taught her that anything is possible if one puts his/her mind into it.

Prior to Miss World Malaysia 2018 pageant, Larissa competed in an ethnic beauty contest in Miri where she won the title for Miss Keligit Orang Ulu category.

Francisca Luhong James, 22 years old

Coming from a culturally rich background where family and communal interests take priority, Francisca believes that the Miss World Malaysia pageant will springboard her vision to help to improve the lives and socio- economic standing of those in the rural areas.

She hopes that the Digital Economy initiatives by the Sarawak government will become a vital tool to spur the various local industries such as beading and weaving.

“If given the opportunity, I would like to make a community and their products known not only domestically but also globally,” said Francisca.

The lassie of mixed parentage with a Kayan father and Iban mother admitted that deep down she wants to make a difference by helping others.

“While I was still studying, I helped some homeless with food, daily essentials and dental care products.

“It is not much but these little things impacted their lives,” said Francisca who recently completed her undergraduate study in public relations at UiTM Melaka.

She was crowned the second runner-up in the Miss World Harvest 2015 and was in the top five at Miss Malaysia World 2016.

“I joined Miss World Malaysia this year as this is the only pageant that I can relate to. I strongly believe that beauty must have a purpose and I want to do something for the community,” she added.

She revealed she developed an interest in beauty pageants with the encouragement of her secondary school friends.

Naomi Sim, 26 years old

Currently a doctor attached to the Sarawak General Hospital, Naomi realised that she can do so much more with her medical knowledge by participating in Miss World Malaysia pageant to stand out and become a role model.

“I realised that I can do so much more because being a beauty queen is similar to being a doctor as both require going down to the ground to help people, speak up and touch lives,” she said.

She associates the pageant with confidence which is why she hopes to represent Malaysia on the international stage to have her voice heard.

Naomi admits that being a doctor is a busy job, but nothing is impossible if a person put her heart and mind into it.

“Even little dreams like pageants can make someone’s life complete. Doctors want to achieve their dreams too,” she added.

Naomi of pure Chinese background admitted that her family has always emphasised education and her interest in pageants started when she joined her first international pageant in 2014.

“I was blessed to win and to represent Malaysia in China. That was where I first learnt grooming techniques and catwalk.

“I also realised that even though pageants are associated with superficial beauty, it is actually the heart that counts because the winners were really fantastic and that is what I want to achieve,” she added.

Meanwhile, the coronation of Miss Malaysia will also see the presentation of assistance to charitable organisations by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The six judges for the final of Miss World Malaysia 2018 will be Amber Chia (actress and model); Nabila Huda (actress); Carmen Soo (actress and model); Sapphire Wong (Miss Cheongsam Sarawak 2016); Tong Bing Yu (artist) and Dewi Liana Seriestha (Miss World Malaysia 2014).