MIRI: Mel Dequanne Abar, 20, was crowned Miss Grand Malaysia 2019 after besting 22 other finalists from all over Malaysia for the coveted title at the grand finals of the beauty pageant held at Meritz Hotel here recently.
Fondly called by pageant fans as Dequeen, the Sino Kadazan from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah walked away with RM85,000 worth of cash and other sponsored prizes.
“I did not expect to win this evening but I feel really blessed to be crowned Miss Grand Malaysia 2019.
“Thank you to all my supporters, fans, families and friends for their continuous support and I would not have done this without them.
“Their support is truly my spirit,” she said, adding that she will save the prize money for some charity work related to her advocacy which is to stand up for the rights of refugees and their children.
Mel, who is currently a Semester 4 student of Diploma in Banking at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Sabah, pointed out that this was not her first attempt at such competition.
“I did participate in Sabah’s culture beauty pageant, Unduk Ngadau, last year. I felt so blessed for making it up to second runner-up spot since it was my first experience.
“And then this year, I challenged myself to join Miss Grand which I began at the district level. Who would have thought that I managed to be placed as a winner three times in a row,” said the aspiring entrepreneur who loves to bake and cook.
Miss Grand Malaysia 2019 saw a hat trick win for Sabah after Sanjeda John in 2017 and Debra Jeanne Poh last year.
With the win, Mel earned the right to represent Malaysia at Miss Grand International 2019 scheduled to be held in Venezuela on Oct 25, offering USD$40,000 cash and a one year stay in Bangkok, Thailand where the headquarters of Miss Grand International organization is based.
Besides being the champion, Mel also won the Miss Top Model subsidiary title.
The first runner-up was Saroop Roshi, 21, from Perak, who received RM35,000 worth of cash and other sponsored prizes. Saroop, a Punjabi fashion model, was also placed Top 18 of Miss Universe Malaysia 2019.
Haaraneei Muthu Kumar, 22, from Selangor came in third and received RM30,000 worth of cash and other sponsored prizes. She also won the Best in Swimwear, Best in Evening Gown and Miss Body Beautiful subsidiary titles.
Both runners-up will also be representing Malaysia at major international pageants to be announced by the organisation in due time.
Julie Minele Senele, 20, from Sarawak and Lishalinny Kanaran, 22, from Selangor were also placed in the Top 5.
Other subsidiary title winners were Julie (Miss Elegant), Malle Christian Anderson Barlus, 21, from Sabah (Miss Viral by Nur Sajat), Emily Chieng Dee Ling, 18, Sarawak (Miss Popular Vote), Simona Boonratana, 24, Kuala Lumpur (Miss Congeniality) and Emily Elizabeth Beard, 21, Sarawak (Miss Beautiful Skin).
Each subsidiary title winner received a cash prize of RM500.
Other contestants for Miss Grand Malaysia 2019 were Devhia Barathi Jayaraman, 23, from Malacca, Valerie Sim (21, Sabah), Anna Jhia-Jhia Tan (25, Selangor), Zoey Marie Anderson (24, Sarawak), Lysandra Gabriel Storie (21, Sarawak), Marilyn Lenggie (22, Sarawak), Gloria Kelbin (23, Sarawak), Vellma Eve Victorianus Golingai (24, Sabah), Chermaine Kang Yi Ting (27, Selangor), Adriana Liun David (23, Sarawak), Lydia Yeo Sze Ern (23, Kuala Lumpur), Kishweni Jaganathan (19, Selangor), Gloria Jane Fernandez (23, Kuala Lumpur), and Michelle Voo (18, Sabah).
At the final coronation, all 23 finalists kicked off the opening round with a fiery dance performance wearing dresses designed by talented Sarawakian designer Maatin Shakir. The next round became more captivating as delegates wore a limited-edition swimwear by Bikini Malaysia before completing the final round in the evening gown.
A Q&A session for the Top 5 finalists was also held.
The audience was entertained by local powerhouse singers Pete Kallang and Clinton Chua.
Miss Grand Malaysia 2019 presented by Nur Sajat Aesthetics was also sponsored by Clarel’s Malaysia, NuFinity and Borneo Medispa, and Bumijaya Kiara Biotech Sdn Bhd.
It was held for the first time outside of Klang Valley. The national pageant was supported by Sarawak Tourism Board and Miri City Council.
It was announced that the Miss Grand Malaysia 2020 will be held in June next year, with Kota Kinabalu, Sabah as the hosting city.
Miri mayor Adam Yii, Miss Grand International Organisation vice president Teresa Chaivisut, Miss Grand International 2018 Clara Sosa, and Miss Grand Malaysia Organisation executive producer Joshua O’Neill were present.