​Reporter apologizes for racist comments towards newly-crowned Miss Universe Vietnam on Facebook

A Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper reporter made insulting remarks about the skin color of the beauty of ethnic origin

H’Hen Nie answers her interview question during the finale of the 2017 Miss Universe Vietnam on January 6, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre

A reporter of a Hanoi-based newspaper has officially apologized to the 2017 Miss Universe Vietnam for making what was widely criticized as a rude, racist and sexist comment about the beauty, shortly after she won the crown last weekend.

Dao Tuan, who works for Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper, has had his Facebook account blocked, apparently after being reported by a number of other users, after his offensive post about the newly-crowned beauty queen H’Hen Nie on Sunday.

The reporter therefore sent his official apology through some local newspapers, saying he had also filed a report of the incident to the Ministry of Information and Communications as requested.

Flagrant insults

H’Hen Nie, a 25-year-old contestant of ethnic E De descent, took home the VND2.7 billion (US$119,000) crown and a cash prize of VND200 million ($8,800) as she was the announced winner of the 2017 Miss Universe Vietnam during the finale night on Saturday.

The Ho Chi Minh City-based freelance model is dubbed ‘the black pearl’ of Vietnam thanks to her vigorous brown complexion, athletic shape, short hair and powerful strutting skills.

H’Hen Nie (C) smiles after being crowned Miss Universe Vietnam 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre
H’Hen Nie (C) smiles after being crowned Miss Universe Vietnam 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Her darker complexion became a target in the insulting Facebook post by Dao Tuan on Sunday.

The Lao Dong reporter mocked Nie’s name, which is different from the popular Vietnamese names of the majority Kinh people, and compared her brown skin to the color of the scrotal sac, a part of the external male genitalia.

Tuan also asserted that the beauty queen could “go straight into the woods and start howling” even if she “does not have a tail.”

Dao Tuan later edited his Facebook post, only to add a ‘postscript’ that Nie deserved to receive any comments about her, reasoning that “by entering the stage and wearing the crown, it goes beyond question that she should accept all judgments from the public.”

Vietnam currently has 54 ethnic groups, some of whom live in mountainous or distant areas.

A screenshot of the controversial post on the Facebook of Dao Tuan
A screenshot of the insulting post on the Facebook of Dao Tuan

Tuan’s comment on Nie, who defied all disadvantages as a woman of an ethnic minority to finish college and become a recognized model, earned him a groundswell of criticism, especially as he works for a major newspaper.

As in several other Asian countries, it is a wide misconception in Vietnam that white skin means beauty.

The Miss Universe Vietnam organizers have been praised for their decision to award the crown to Nie, and the first and second runners-up as they all have an ‘unusual’ beauty that goes against the standard of white skin and long hair.


On Monday, the information ministry tasked the Press Regulatory Department with ordering Lao Dong to ask its employee to make a report on his controversial Facebook post that insults and humiliates the new Miss Universe Vietnam.

Less than 24 hours after the ministry stepped in, Tuan delivered his official apology to Nie, saying he had “made an offensive and humiliating Facebook post about H'hen Nie, using words that should never be accepted.”

“Even when my Facebook account was blocked, I find it necessary to extend my apologies to H'hen Nie and everyone for my ugly words,” he said in the apology sent to the media.

Tuan said he had already submitted his report to the ministry and is now waiting for being slapped with a disciplinary action or punishment.

“This is the price I have to pay for my words and statements which a reporter and a media person should refrain from making,” he admitted.

H’Hen Nie is pictured during the finale of the Miss Universe Vietnam 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre
H’Hen Nie is pictured during the finale of the 2017 Miss Universe Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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