YANGON: With a whiff of controversy, a US-educated business graduate was selected as the first Miss Universe contestant to represent Myanmar in more than 50 years.
Moe Set Wine will take her place on stage at the global beauty pageant in Moscow next month, reflecting dramatic political and social changes in the former junta-ruled nation which last fielded a Miss Universe contender in 1961.
“I feel like now I am part of the history and I feel like a soldier that is doing something for the country and my people,” she said after winning the trophy late on Thursday.
“I’m still in shock. I still can’t believe it. I feel really happy, because now I get the chance to represent my country,” added the 25-year-old, who has a BA in business marketing from California Lutheran University.
Hemlines are rising in the nation formerly known as Burma as it opens up to the world after decades of iron-fisted military rule ended in 2011.
But while many young people are embracing the fashion revolution, not everyone approves of scanty dress.
When racy shots of one model wearing a two-piece swimsuit appeared online a few years ago, she received abuse and threats.
“My personal view is that the competition presents a good image of our country, but if you look at what they wear, it is not what a lot of people here like,” Deputy Culture Minister Than Swe said.
Songwriter Saw Khuse, who was one of the judges, said he was “very proud” to take part in the event.
“After 50 years, I am very glad that Myanmar has been invited to participate in this kind of competition,” he added.