Ms Charity Maru, winner of the Miss World Singapore 2015 contest on Wednesday night, has found herself at the unkind end of public opinion of some people.
Ms Maru, you see, originally came from Burma, or Myanmar, and received her pink Singapore identity card in 2007.
This, it seems, has got some quarters hot under the collar and they have criticised her for not being “local-born” and thus undeserving of representing Singapore at the finals of the pageant which will be held in Sanya, China, in December.
Ms Maru, who is also known as Charity Lu Lu Seng, and her Burmese name of Uru Seng Maw, beat 13 other contestants in Wednesday’s competition at One Farrer Hotel and Spa.
The runner-ups were:
1st runner-up – Kuek Ziyi
2nd runner-up – Charis Lin
3rd runner-up – Ashley Chin
4th runner-up – Sheen Cher
Ms Maru’s win, however, was soon marred by insensitive and xenophobic comments and postings online, including some on various online forums, and the Miss World Singapore Facebook page itself.
It is perhaps necessary that while we do not wish to propagate these abhorrent comments from some members of the public, it is good to highlight them and those who made them in order to shine a light on the ugliness of how some are behaving.
Ms Maru has every right to join in the contest and to participate in the competition – and indeed, now that she has won, she has every right to represent Singapore at the Miss World international competition as well.
To deny her or reject her right solely because she was not born in Singapore – even though she has been here for many years and indeed has been a citizen for at least eight years – is plain stupid and baseless.
Here is one such stupid comment on the Miss World Singapore Facebook page by a Raj Kumar Kapoor:
“Instead of sending a Singaporean to represent our country, you give the crown to someone from Myanmar!!!”
Thankfully, the majority of those who posted comments on that page are supportive of Ms Maru.
Having said that, Ms Maru herself needs to be aware that she is Singaporean, first and foremost, and that she should keep that in mind when speaking about “my people”.
In a New Paper report on 23 October, she was reported to have said: “One of my goals I set for myself should I win Miss World Singapore was to introduce my people to the world.”
When she was asked what she meant by “my people”, she reportedly explained that she was referring to the Kachin people of Burma, who reside in the northern part of the country.
“I believe that I am the first Kachin to take part in the Miss World Pageant,” she said.
There is nothing wrong with Ms Maru being proud of her ethnic roots, and indeed all of us are of ours. Nonetheless, perhaps she should make it clear that while she retains – and rightly so – her roots to her people, her home is now Singapore.
But even if she expresses her pride in being Kachin (and there is nothing wrong with this), there is still no need for distasteful and unkind remarks about her participation and victory in the beauty pageant.
Ms Maru, like the others, worked just as hard for her achievement and should be recognised for it.