DESPITE a strong showing in online voting, Indonesian Miss Universe candidate Zivanna Letisha Siregar didn't figure in the beauty contest's top 15 in the pageant held in Nassau, the Bahamas.
Miss Venezuela, Stefania Fernandez, 18, was crowned the winner in the 58th annual pageant, which is co-owned by American billionaire Donald Trump. But Venezuela's win has drawn strong reactions among some pageant-watchers. 'Another plastic Venezuelan?' said Ms Tan Mei Ling, a 31-year-old who works in the advertising industry. 'Do we really need another one of those women as Miss Universe?'
However, pundits said Miss Venezuela just has the X-factor. Venezuela has won more Miss Universe and Miss World competitions than any other country, noted the Associated Press (AP).
Some girls begin training to be contestants from as young as five. Its pageant industry has drawn criticism for pressuring contestants to have cosmetic surgery, said the AP report.
Miss Fernandez was crowned by fellow Venezuelan Dayana Mendoza, who was last year's champion. It is the sixth time a Venezuelan has taken the Miss Universe title. 'She evokes the glamour of 1940s screen goddess Rita Hayworth,' enthused Mr Josepeh Vitug, a writer with GlobalBeauties.com, a 10-year-old Internet portal on pageants.
The other top five finalists include runner-up Miss Dominican Republic, Ada Aimee de la Cruz, followed by Miss Kosovo, Droga Ganusha; Miss Australia, Rachael Finch; and Miss Puerto Rico, Mayra Matos Perez.
Miss Zivanna, 20, failed to advance to the swimsuit round, said the Jakarta Globe, even though she was No. 1 in the pageant's Internet poll. The poll saw tens of thousands of observers casting votes for the 84 contestants via the Internet.
Thailand's Miss Durongdej came in at No. 5 on the poll, while Miss Vietnam, Hoang Yen Vo, took sixth place. Miss Philippines, Bianca Manalo, was placed at No. 11. Miss Singapore, 24-year-old Rachel Kum, came in at No. 55 in the poll, but did not advance beyond the swimsuit round.
'I am so turned off by this,' wrote netizen Banana on Yahoo Buzz, in response to the results. 'Not one Asian figured in the top 15, considering four out of the top 11 in (the online poll) are Asians... There are more beautiful and intelligent women around the world aside from (those from) Venezuela!' -- MY PAPER