Miss World Singapore 2015 winner facing flak for Myanmar roots

Winner draws online flak for Myanmar roots. She says...

WINNERS: (From left) Second runner-up Miss Charis Lin, winner Miss Charity Maru and first runner-up Miss Kuek Ziyi for the Miss World Singapore 2015 pageant.
CATWALK: Charity Maru in the casual wear round that used to be the swimsuit round.

Winning a beauty pageant has been her dream since she was a little girl.

Miss Charity Maru, also known as Charity Lu Lu Seng, finally tasted sweet victory on Wednesday night.

The 24-year-old freelance translator beat 13 other contestants to be crowned Miss World Singapore 2015 at the One Farrer Hotel & Spa.

But her joy was quickly tainted by criticism online that she is not the best person to represent Singapore at the international finals on Dec 19 in Sanya, China.

The debate started because Miss Maru, is a relatively new citizen: She received her pink IC only in 2007.

She was born in northern Myanmar to a Kachin family. The Kachin people are made up of ethnic groups who inhabit the northern Kachin State and neighbouring areas of China and India.

Miss Maru, who is proud of her Kachin roots, said she loves Singapore and does not see why she cannot have the best of both worlds in her pageant journey.

"One of my goals I set for myself should I win Miss World Singapore was to introduce my people to the world."

When asked what she meant by "my people", Miss Maru said she meant the Kachin.

"I believe that I am the first Kachin to take part in the Miss World Pageant.

"Also, now that I am Singaporean, I want to represent Singapore well at the finals by showing that charity, which is a big component of Miss World, should be a lifestyle choice instead of a one-off thing."

Some of her online detractors were adamant that should they support Miss Maru, they want her to identify only with being Singaporean when she takes to the world stage.

Wrote one netizen: "Charity is a Singapore citizen with a pink Singapore identity card.

"She is not representing Myanmar and therefore...she should be proud, and only be proud, to be a Singaporean."

On the flak she has received, Miss Maru told The New Paper: "I grew up here, this is my home and I'm proud to be a Singaporean.

"I hope people would respect me just as a Singaporean."


Miss Maru, who is 1.7m tall, was brought up by her grandmother and aunts in Myanmar as her parents came to Singapore to work when she was young.

Her father is a senior engineer and her retired mother was a nurse in Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

When she was 12,her parents brought her here to live with them.

The former student of Balestier Hill Primary School, Beatty Secondary School and Singapore Polytechnic has been volunteering for the last two years as a Sunday school teacher at Kachin Baptist Church (Singapore), where she enjoys being a youth leader.

Although she had, from the time she was young, yearned to be a beauty queen, she refused to join beauty pageants because most of them required participants to wear swimsuits.

Said Miss Maru: "So when I read that this year (for the first time in 63 years), Miss World was going to remove the swimsuit round from the international finals, it was a dream come true for me to join the local pageant, and then actually win it.

"I had joined it secretly and told my parents only on the morning of the (local) finals that I was a Miss World finalist."

As a nod to Miss World's chairman Julia Morley's decision to cut the swimsuit round, the organiser of Miss World Singapore, Mr Raymund Ooi, also turned the bikini segment this year into a casual wear segment.

Miss Maru is also more determined than ever to "improve" on herself as she wants to win a title at the competition.

For example, she will be working on her catwalk, which she feels is not up to standard.

The self-confessed sweat-hater, who weighs 56kg, also intends to do more toning exercises so that she will have a better physique.

From now to the competition, she will not eat dinner and will have her last meal every day at 4pm in order to keep her weight down.

She will also be working hard on her community project in Singapore, which will count for 40 per cent of her score in China.

Said Miss Maru: "I am prepared to win something at the Miss World finals.

"I will do everything that I can to get it for Singapore."

If Singaporeans want to complain about the fact that she is born in Myanmar and they feel like they know Singaporean women born and bred here who are exemplary, then I urge them to encourage these women to join next year's Miss World Singapore.

- Miss World Singapore organiser Raymund Ooi

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Boy, 6, survives accident with car while dashing across road

Boy suffers jaw and head injuries after being hit by car as he runs across road

AT THE SCENE: The car that is believed to have been involved in the accident at Henderson Road on Monday evening.
HURT: Koh Jia Yang with a neck brace in hospital. He was transferred to a normal ward on Wednesday.

This could have turned out so wrong.

But whatever you call it - the work of a higher power, providence or even luck - kindergarten pupil Koh Jia Yang, six, survived after being hit by a car at Henderson Road on Monday evening.

And because of that, his parents are feeling a tremendous amount of relief.

Jia Yang's dad, Mr Don Koh, 37, who is self-employed, said initially things did not look good.

He told The New Paper on Wednesday evening: "He was bleeding from the mouth when I saw him and I was so worried that he might have internal bleeding.

"I didn't even dare to tell my wife how serious it was at first."

His wife, Madam Miko Zheng, 34, a beautician, said: "There were so many tubes connected to him... He is usually so talkative and it breaks my heart to see him so quiet now.

"But I'm just glad that he woke up and can eat a little now."

On Monday at about 5pm, Madam Zheng received a call at work from the student care centre.Her son had dashed across the road while chasing after his friends and was knocked down by a car.

Jia Yang's sisters, aged seven and eight, tried to warn him but it was too late.

Mr Koh was buying dinner nearby when his wife called him, and he got there in time to accompany an unconscious Jia Yang to the National University Hospital in an ambulance.

Jia Yang spent two days in the paediatric intensive care unit and regained consciousness on Wednesday morning.

He is recovering in a normal ward with injuries to his jaw and head.

Mr Koh said his son has not spoken since the incident.

"But when I asked him if he would ever dare to run across the road again, he shook his head and cried."

Jia Yang's grandmother would usually pick them up from the student care centre but she had a medical check-up that day.

Mr Koh was going to pick them up that evening but his daughters had tuition and wanted to head home earlier on their own.

He and his wife said they would not allow their children to cross the road on their own in future.

Mr Koh said: "I hope this incident will also be a lesson for them, on how dangerous the roads can be."

Police are investigating.

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Fall victim's aunt: We believe classmate dared her to perform stunt

Aunt of 14-year-old says family still not sure what happened

CLOSE-KNIT: Shina Adriana Hendricks (above) was the youngest of three girls.
CLOSE-KNIT: Shina Adriana Hendricks (above, with her family) was the youngest of three girls.

She was a cheerful girl who always brought a smile to everyone's face.

This is how family and friends of Shina Adriana Hendricks remember her.

The 14-year-old Spectra Secondary School student fell four storeys from her school building on Tuesday at around 9.30am.

Condolence messages posted by some of her schoolmates on Twitter indicated that Shina was trying to demonstrate a jump when she lost her balance and fell.

She was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and then transferred to KK Women's and Children's Hospital, where she died from her injuries.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Shina's aunt, Ms Sandra Ross, 46, said: "She was a joyful girl who had a soft spot for animals and especially loved cats and dogs.

"She also enjoyed her studies and never gave any problems to her parents."

The youngest of three girls, she was quiet and gentle.

Shina's ambition was to join the police force as a detective, said Ms Ross, a crew manager in the marine industry.

She added that Shina's parents and sisters were unable to speak to the media as they were still grieving over their loss.

"The feeling of losing a child and having to bury your own child, it's a very bad feeling," said Ms Ross.

She said Shina and her classmates were on a toilet break when she climbed over a railing on the fourth storey and fell to her death.

The family believes that a classmate had dared Shina to make the jump and that she had not been performing parkour at the time, as reported in the media.

Parkour practitioners run, jump, climb or vault over obstacles to get from one point to another in the fastest way possible.

She said: "Shina isn't a very sporty or physical person, so parkour is not something she would have done. She never liked roller-blading or that sort of thing.

"We are not sure what happened that day. We won't know what Shina was thinking. But she might have been under peer pressure or a dare.

"She was barely a teenager, just 14. (Teens) don't know any better and have no sense of danger,"

The New Paper understands that the police are investigating the death as a case of misadventure.

Ms Ross hoped that the incident would remind youth not to dare each other to perform dangerous stunts, and also send a message to "be the bigger person and walk away from dangerous dares".