Burma Crowns First Miss Universe Candidate in Half Century

By San Yamin Aung 4 October 2013

For the first time in more than 50 years, Burma crowned the country’s representative to the Miss Universe pageant at Rangoon’s National Theater on Thursday.

Moe Set Wine, one of 20 finalists, won the Miss Universe Myanmar 2013 crown and also took home another two titles: Miss Famous, awarded based on votes from the public on the pageant’s official website, Facebook and SMS, and Miss Healthy Skin, which were among seven titles conferred in addition to Miss Universe Myanmar.

The other titles awarded were Miss Environment, Miss Healthy Body & Beautiful Skin, Miss Perfect Body, Miss Photogenic and Miss Beautiful Smile.

“I feel as if I have been granted a chance to climb a big mountain because today’s event isn’t the end of the game. There’s a long road ahead,” Moe Set Wine told The Irrawaddy after being crowned. “I have to compete with candidates from other countries. I have to think fast because every move I make and every word I speak will represent Burma and the Burmese.”

As the winning contestant, 25-year-old Moe Set Wine receives 10 million kyats (US$10,300), a Honda Fit car and the opportunity to serve as Burma’s representative in the 62nd Miss Universe pageant, to be held in Moscow on Nov. 9. More than 80 countries’ representatives will compete for the global title in Russia.

“For the first-time appearance of Myanmar in over 50 years to Miss Universe, I am glad for that,” said Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, at the National Theater on Thursday.

Miss Universe is an annual international beauty contest begun in 1952 and held by the Miss Universe Organization. The current Miss Universe 2012 is from the United States.

The first representative of Burma in the Miss Universe beauty pageant was Than Than Aye in 1959 and the second was Myint Myint May in 1960. Myint Myint Khin was Burma’s last representative, in 1961.

Less than a year later, a coup by Gen Ne Win would plunge Burma into a half century of military rule in which the country became increasingly isolated from the international community.