After 50 Years, Cambodia Enters Miss World

A 22-year old from Kompong Cham province is the first Cambodian woman in over 50 years of the international pageant to vie for the coveted title of Miss World.

Sun Srey Mom, a student, tour guide and part-time teacher, arrived in Warsaw, Poland on Aug 30 for the two-month-long, 56th annual Miss World competition.

More than one 100 young women from around the world arrived at the end of August in the central European city, where a packed schedule including tours, tree plantings, children’s charity events and gala dinners awaited them.

Twenty women will be short-listed as finalists for the televised competition that will unfold before millions of viewers.

Sun Srey Mom made her official television debut Monday night, when 16 contestants representing the Asia-Pacific region were each given a brief chance to introduce themselves and announce their voting number.

Contestants move through the competition either by winning an event or by the number of votes they receive from viewers.

Fellow contestants introduced during the half-hour spot on Star World included Miss Singapore, Miss Australia, Miss Vietnam, Miss Thailand, Miss Philippines and Miss People’s Republic of China.

Sun Srey Mom previously competed in the Miss Tourism Queen International pageant in China. Although she did not win, the 173-cm model caught the attention of judges.

“The organizer in China said we should send [Sun Srey Mom] to Miss World,” said Sapor Rendall, owner of Sapors modeling school in Phnom Penh.

Rendall said she was granted the $5,000 license to send Sun Srey Mom to the Miss World competition this year by organizers in London. Cambodia is now one of over 140 countries where the Miss World competition is franchised.

Rendall added that Sun Srey Mom is very busy in Poland, but loving the opportunity to see a new country and meet people from all over the world.

Sun Srey Mom is also introducing the world to Cambodia.

All of her competition clothing was made by a local tailor in Phnom Penh, and she brought samples of Cambodian cloth, jewelry and art with her to Warsaw. Her talent for the competition is traditional Khmer dancing.

Chuch Phoeung, secretary of state in the Ministry of Culture, said that Sun Srey Mom is free to take part in the Miss World competition because a private company paid for her to go.

“This kind of thing doesn’t concern the Cambodian government,” he said. He added that her promotion of local products to an international audience was good for tourism and culture.

Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier this month banned the hosting of a Miss Cambodia competition, stating that the national beauty pageant would not be held until the Cambodian economy was much stronger. 

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