PETALING JAYA: A contestant representing Great Britain in the Miss Tourism World event held in Melaka late last month claims that she and two others were publicly humiliated after they were selected in the final stage but later replaced.
The UK’s Mail Online yesterday reported that Saffron Hart, 27, was one of five women selected for the top prize when the final round was scrapped and started again.
Describing the incident as “farcical”, she was quoted as saying that she was disgusted after she was chosen as a finalist only to be replaced by Miss Malaysia.
The report said the official reason given was that there had been a technical hitch in adding up the judge’s points.
The two others who were affected were Miss Venezuela and Miss Panama, the report said.
According to Mail Online, Hart, who hails from the English town of Hull, was invited to take part in the event with all her travel expenses paid as her prize for being crowned Miss Great Britain in September last year.
She was quoted as saying that she and the other finalists were invited to talk on stage after making it to the line-up when the presenters claimed that there had been a technical error and that they would be recalling the finalists.
“They left us standing on stage for 20 minutes before myself, Miss Panama and Miss Venezuela didn’t make the recount, and we all went offstage,” she said.
“The Miss Tourism World team didn’t even acknowledge us girls afterwards, never mind apologise. And I flew home with one of them two days later,” she added.
She said she was in shock then and could not believe what was happening.
“The other girls were more outraged than I was. Everybody was so embarrassed. People were crying,” she was quoted as saying.
The report said several members of the audience, including Hart’s mother, Louise, 50, claimed that they saw a row between the sponsors and the organisers of the event.
Half of the girls later refused to return to the stage when Miss Colombia was eventually crowned Miss Tourism World 2018, it added.
“I’m no sore loser. I’m just disgusted that we were all treated so appallingly. This has put me off beauty pageants for life,” Hart was quoted as saying.
“My mum, my step-dad and I had spent £7,000 (RM38,000) and we’d all taken three weeks off work to travel to the other side of the world for a contest where we’d get to experience different cultures.
“But instead all I did was rehearse all day and night and on my limited time off tour(ing) building sites that the sponsor was promoting,” Hart added.
The amount spent included £3,000 (RM16,400) on outfits she needed for the competition, the report said.
Mail Online reported that Miss Tourism World refused to respond to a request for comment.
In a statement on Feb 3, Miss Tourism Malaysia World apologised and expressed regret for any confusion caused due to a computer error.
It said there was a technical glitch in the computer involving one of the judges’ scores not being recorded correctly in the system.
“This fault was detected by the adjudicators and an immediate manual check was carried out by the adjudicators and judges to ensure that the results were accurately reflected,” the statement said.
“This led to the recount of the earlier top 5 winners. Notwithstanding that there was a small disruption during the show, we still believe that it is important to provide the correct and fair results as decided by the panel of judges of the evening,” it added.