Miss Singapore, Myanmar Use National Costumes to Highlight Racial Violence and Political Turmoil

Miss Singapore, Myanmar Use National Costumes to Highlight Racial Violence and Political Turmoil
Ryan General
May 17, 2021
Miss Singapore and Miss Myanmar highlighted important social issues during the national costume segment of the 69th Miss Universe competition.
Racial hate: Miss Singapore candidate Bernadette Belle Ong wore the red and white colors of the Singaporean flag in a cape with the message “Stop Asian Hate” printed on the back during the show on Thursday at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Florida.
  • Ong’s bold statement comes during AAPI Heritage Month and amid an ongoing wave of anti-Asian violence in North America and some parts of the world.
  • Earlier in May, Stop AAPI Hate reported that hate incidents against Asian Americans nearly doubled from 3,795 to 6,603 in just a year.
  • “What is the platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” the 27-year-old contestant wrote in an Instagram post.
  • Ong’s costume was inspired by Singapore’s national flag, which, she said, “symbolizes unity for all and social harmony in a multi-racial, multi-cultural and inter-religious country.”
  • She revealed that she tapped Filipino designer Arwin Meriales and Filipino artist Paulo Espinosa to create her outfit in just two days.
  • Ong — born and raised in the Philippines — told Manila Standard that she was involved with local causes and charities in Singapore to help raise funds for victims of calamities and migrant workers affected by the pandemic.
Against the Junta: Miss Myanmar candidate Thuzar Wint Lwin, who won “Best National Costume,” carried a banner to the stage asking for prayers for her country amid the ongoing political turmoil that has left hundreds killed.
  • Thuzar called attention to her country’s situation while wearing the ethnic costume of her Chin people from northwestern Myanmar, where the army and anti-junta militia fighters engaged in fighting for days.
  • “In this costume, we can identify the delicate weaving skills of Myanmar women and the image of an admirable and courageous Myanmar lady,” she wrote in an Instagram post.
  • Thuzar also spoke about the crisis during the finals night via a video spiel that played after she made it to the top 21 on May 16.
  • “Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said in Burmese. “Therefore, I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar. As Miss Universe Myanmar, since the military coup, I have been speaking out as much as I can.”
  • Military forces seized control of Myanmar in February and detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of the National League for Democracy, NextShark reported. Citizens have since protested the military takeover that has claimed 788 civilian lives, including 52 children, while over 3,000 have been detained.
Featured Image via Miss Universe
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