NUSA DUA,Bali, Indonesia – Miss Philippines was on Saturday crowned Miss World 2013 in a glittering finale on the Indonesian resort island of Bali amid tight security following weeks of hardline Muslim protests.
Megan Young beat five other finalists, including France and Brazil, to win the coveted title in a contest broadcast to more than 180 countries worldwide.
US-born Ms Young, 23, beat 126 other contestants and pledged to be “the best Miss World ever. She told the cheering crowd in Nusa Dua in southern Bali she would “be myself in everything I do, to share what I know and to educate people”.
Wearing a glittering gown, Ms Young, who moved to the Philippines at the age of 10, wept as the Miss World sash was put over her shoulder by 2012 winner Miss China.
Miss France, Marine Lorphelin, came second in the contest and Miss Ghana, Carranzar Naa Okailey Shooter, took third place.
While, Miss Indonesia 2013 from the hosting country, Vania Larissa, has won the Talent Competition of the Miss World 2013 pageant. Larissa, a singer, was announced the winner of the talent round during its final held at the Mangupura Hall in Bali, where the 63rd edition of Miss World pageant is taking place. Miss World Organisation said that Larissa’s “flawless rendition of ‘A Question of Honour’, sung in an operatic style with a modern twist” made her win the talent round.
The 127 contestants vying for the crown were introduced Saturday wearing evening gowns shimmering in sequins, many of them with plunging necklines and slits up the leg. Four candidates dropped out earlier, mainly due to illnesses, said Syafril Nasution, one of the local organizers.
Miss World organizers had earlier agreed to cut bikinis from the swimsuit competition, replacing them with more conservative sarongs. But pressure continued to mount, and more mainstream groups joined in and called for the show to be banned. The competition was moved to Bali from the capital, Jakarta, because of protests from hardline Muslim groups.
Security for Saturday’s event was high in Bali, a resort island with a majority Hindu population, but no further demonstrations were reported.
Indonesia’s government announced three weeks ago that the final would be moved from the outskirts of the capital, Jakarta, and instead held on the Hindu-dominated resort island of Bali, where earlier rounds were taking place.
The British, Australian and U.S. embassies issued warnings to citizens planning trips to Bali during the competition, saying there could be large-scale protests or even attacks.
Col. R. Umar Faroq, the Director of Vital Security for Bali provincial police, said thousands of security forces had been deployed to secure the final. But Faroq said that security was tightened along the north coast of East Java to Bali in anticipation of possible protesters from other islands. “The success in securing the Miss World final will be a benchmark for the police in securing the incoming APEC Summit,” Faroq said, referring to the upcoming Asia-Pacific Cooperation summit on Bali to be attended by world leaders, including President Barack Obama, and thousands of delegates.
Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country and the organisers had originally offered to abandon the contest’s bikini round in an attempt to address complaints of pornography and immorality. Protests were led by the hardline Islamic Defenders’ Front (FPI), which had planned to cross to the island from East Java but were prevented when the port was shut late on Friday. The event, broadcast in 180 countries, was guarded by heavily armed police with water cannon while some 1,000 FPI members held a prayer session at a mosque outside Jakarta.
Miss World is the latest controversy in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, where most follow a moderate form of the religion. However, a small extremist fringe has become louder and more violent in recent years, attacking Christians and other religious minorities, along with anyone else deemed immoral.
Last year, the Islamic Defenders Front forced Lady Gaga to cancel a sold-out show after branding her a “devil worshipper.”