DETHRONED Miss Singapore World Ris Low spent about $12,000 on buying advertisements and tables for the pageant.
This has led to some unease about how she may have won the title.
Ms Tracy Lee, the event director of pageant organiser ERM World Marketing, confirmed that Ris, 19, had spent the most among the finalists, but strongly denied that it had any part in influencing the result.
She said it was pure coincidence that the biggest spender had won the title.
Ris’ short reign has been plagued by controversy – first over her poor diction and then over revelations of her credit-card fraud conviction.
She gave up her crown earlier this week following public outcry over her suitability to represent Singapore in the Miss World finals in South Africa.
Ris’ family and supporters bought 10 full-page ads in the 52-page programme booklet for the Miss Singapore World finals in July. A flip through the booklet shows that she had the most number of advertisements of the finalists.
Ris told The New Paper yesterday that each full-page advertisement costs $750, which would make the total cost $7,500. It is understood that a half-page advertisement costs about $325.
Apart from Ris, only three other finalists had advertisements in the programme booklet.
First runner-up Claire Lee, 23 and second runner-up, Miss Pilar Arlando, 19, each had one half-page advertisement paid for by their respective sponsors or supporters. Another contestant, who was not placed in the top five, also had placed one half-page advertisement. In addition, Ris’ family, friends and supporters bought three tables at about $1,500 per table, which would have amounted to $4,500. Ms Lee said the full proceeds from the table sales go to the Down Syndrome Association of Singapore.
Ris said she didn’t think that her spending had any impact on the judges’ decision to pick her as the winner.
‘It doesn’t matter if you buy tables or advertisements. There is no such thing as buying over the judges. The truth is being twisted here,’ she said.
She maintained that she won the pageant on her own merit.
‘The judges like me and that’s why I won. If the judges didn’t fancy me, do you think I could have won so many titles?’
She added: ‘I don’t think I spent the most of all the contestants.’
When pressed on who else spent more, she said: ‘I have no idea, I really cherish friendships I made during the competition. But it seems like someone is out to sabotage me.’
First runner-up Claire Lee also observed that Ris’ number of advertisements was noticeably more than the rest of the finalists.
However, another contestant we spoke to, Miss Oxy Ong, 20, an undergraduate, did not get her supporters to buy any ads or tables at the finals. Yet, she was placed in the top five.
She said: ‘I can’t comment on Ris or on the others, but I didn’t spend money because I would rather spend the money on grooming and training.’ She said she didn’t know which contestant spent the most money, and added: ‘I’ll rather compete fairly on my own strengths and capabilities.’
This is not the first time that pageant organiser ERM has been embroiled in such a controversy. In August last year, The New Paper reported on similar allegations in the Mrs Singapore pageant, which is also organised by ERM.
Then, several finalists banded together to complain that the winner was the contestant who spent the most at the finals.
It was reported that the winner who walked away with five titles had booked six tables, placed eight advertisements and garnered 17,710 votes (with 10 votes costing $3).
When contacted then, Ms Lee flatly denied the allegations that the winner is the one who spent the most.
She said then: ‘The titles had nothing to do with the amount the contestants spent on the pageant.’ She said the judges were not aware of how many tables or ads the contestants had paid for.
Ms Lee added that such amounts were paid out of the contestants ‘own free will’ and was ‘not compulsory’.
Pageant veteran Mrs Patricia Ng, 37, who runs grooming business Glamour Beaute Consultancy, has participated in more than 10 pageants, including those by ERM.
Mrs Ng joined the Mrs Singapore pageant twice, once in 2001 and in 2006.
In 2001, she did not spend anything on the finals. Three years ago, when she bought 10 tables at about $800 each, she managed to win the Mrs Singapore United Nations title and went on to represent Singapore overseas in United States.
That led to her winning the Mrs United Nations International title.
She bought tables at the time because she said: ‘I felt like I had no choice.’
COMPANY RUNS AROUND 30 PAGEANTS
Miss Singapore World is not the only pageant that ERM runs. A check on its website reveals that ERM runs about 30 local pageants. These include titles like Manhunt Singapore and Miss Singapore Tourism, among others. The company also has a presence overseas organising 18 pageants in China and nine in Malaysia.
Oh Miss Ris Low, you are truly the gift that keeps on giving, the reason why I have things to talk about daily on this column!
Please continue to have your past exposed to the whole of Singapore alright? While you’re at it, I’d also greatly appreciate it if you could also start giving live interviews to as many media outlets as possible. I haven’t laughed so hard since the day I saw your classic “BOOMS!” video on Youtube. Girl, ever thought of becoming a comedian, seeing how your stint as a pageant winner is over before it even started? You have the natural flair for it! You make people laugh even without trying! (Although I can’t guarantee that they’re laughing with you, and not at you)
By the way, did you know that somebody actually sync-ed your “BOOMS!” with Black Eye Peas’ Boom Boom Pow on Youtube? YOU NEED TO WATCH IT. It’s almost as funny as you. Almost.