Culture ministry orders cessation of Miss Universe Vietnam amid Damrey-related criticism

The pageant’s semifinal was held in south-central Vietnam as the region was being hit by Typhoon Damrey

Contestants in the semifinal round of the 2017 Miss Universe Vietnam beauty pageant. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The Vietnamese Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has requested that the ongoing 2017 Miss Universe Vietnam beauty pageant be postponed, after the contest drew criticism for holding its semifinal in a typhoon-hit city.

In a dispatch signed by Deputy Minister Vuong Duy Bien on Tuesday, the ministry asked Saigon Unicorp – the pageant’s organizer – to pause the contest until after the damage created by Typhoon Damrey had been remedied.

Tropical storm Damrey reached the mainland in Vietnam’s south-central coast early on Saturday, cutting off power, unroofing houses and disrupting traffic in the provinces from Phu Yen to Ninh Thuan, with Nha Trang City among the affected locations.

The latest reports by local authorities put the death toll at 89 as of Tuesday, with 30 others still missing.

Despite the storm sweeping through Nha Trang on Saturday morning, the semifinal round of the 2017 Miss Universe Vietnam, held in the same city, went on as scheduled the same evening and was broadcast live on national television.

The organization of such an event in a region struggling to recover from the aftermath of Typhoon Damrey has been met with public criticism, the culture ministry’s dispatch read.

The dispatch requested that the pageant’s permit be revised and future events be closely supervised, while the provincial Department of Culture and Sports has been slammed for failing to act within its authority.

The ministry also sent a similar document to the People’s Committee of Khanh Hoa Province, which administers Nha Trang, to ask it to stop the contest. The people’s committee is the local equivalent of the central government.

Contestants at the semifinal round of the 2017 Miss Universe Vietnam beauty pageant. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Contestants in the semifinal round of the 2017 Miss Universe Vietnam beauty pageant. Photo: Tuoi Tre

On Friday – one day before the pageant’s semifinal took place – the People’s Committee of Khanh Hoa issued an urgent dispatch calling for the provincial culture department to “direct the halt of cultural and arts programs, including the 2017 Miss Universe Vietnam beauty pageant, while the province is impacted by the storm.”

However, Nguyen Khac Ha, director of the provincial Department of Culture and Sports, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper the same day that the department had no say in the contest’s scheduling since it was run by a private company.

“The contest’s activities are run by its board of organizers, which provincial authorities are not members of,” Ha said.

The Miss Universe Vietnam pageant is held yearly to select Vietnam’s representative to enter the international Miss Universe contest.

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