Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Dust Settles

It is about two months now, since the whole Miss World Fiji 2012 drama started. It is certainly quite relieving to say that it is coming to an end now. Torika Watters, the initial winner of the Miss World Fiji 2012 competition, has handed over her crown to the competition runner up Koini Vakaloloma. Finally, everyone is happy and things are smooth within the Miss World Fiji family. After months of scrutiny, I am glad everything is into place now. 

Watters will officially represent Fiji next year in Bali in the Miss World 2013.
Miss World Fiji pageant national director Andhy Blake announced this today (June 2, 2012) after the reconciliation between Miss World Fiji Organisers and the family of Watters. Waters said what is left now is for the public to support them. Watters will have a year to train for Miss World next year. Blake said the Miss World Fiji pageant will continue in 2013, with the winner representing Fiji in 2014.
Well, this does sounds like a good idea as the winner will get ample time to prepare for the competition. Maybe the Miss World Fiji should organise charity events and advocacy work throughout the year, once the winner is decided. This will be a good way to work on the Miss World motto i.e. beauty with a purpose. It will also make the Miss World Fiji competition unique, in my opinion. It will also give them some much needed good press.

Waters while giving away her crown said she was glad that giving up the crown is a starting point of clearing up the controversy. She wished Vakaloloma all the best for her journey to the Miss World 2012. Vakaloloma is scheduled to leave for Mongolia for the pageant on July 18. Blake and a local designer, Fumaru Fatiaki, will also go to the pageant. They will leave early August to support Vakaloloma. Fatiaki will design costumes for Vakaloloma during the competition.
These are evening gown, competition gown, dance of the world costume and national costume. For a national costume, he needs to get approval of the i-Taukei Board. Apart from those, Fatiaki said there are 10 other dresses that are on their way from London. He said they have approached the Ministry of Tourism for a unique national gift that will be auctioned at the end of the event to assist mental health in Fiji. Fatiaki said this is a must for all Miss World participating countries.
This will certainly be a big deal for Fiji. Fatiaki will not only get to showcase his creativity, but also the cultures of Fiji with his designs. Vakaloloma also has a strenuous task ahead considering the fiasco before her crowning. At least she will have the media attention. She would have to prove the critics wrong about Fiji. I wish her all the best in the competition and l hope the organisers have learnt from their mistakes. I look forward to seeing her on the big stage.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Runner- ups to Miss World 2012

It seems Fiji is not the only country surrounded with scandal in the Miss World Competition this year. Late April, a Miss World contestant set to represent Dominican Republic was stripped off her title. Carlina Duran was dethroned because of her marital status. The competition rules state that the contestants should be single.
Duran, who owns a spa in Santo Domingo and comes from the town of La Vega, violated the rule that no contestant can have been married or have had a child. According to reports, Carlina has been married since 2009 and never told anyone about it. She has still not commented on being outed as a better half.Dominican newspaper Diario Libre reports that a marriage license shows she wed on June 6, 2009.
Did she really think she was going to get away with this? I’m sure she had her reasons but rules are rules, I guess. I also wonder who turned her in since managed to have kept it a secret since 2009. It is sort of normal that when someone becomes a celebrity, the dirty little secrets start to come out. In this case the secret was the husband. So now, you will be seeing the first runner-up, Dulcita Lieggi, in Mongolia.   

Another Miss World contestant who got the boot is Ireland contestant Maire Hughes. She had to give away her title earlier this month, also, because of her age. No she was not underage. This time it’s the other way around. According to the Miss World rules, she was too old.
The rules state that contestants must be 25 years old or less, unmarried and have no children. However, at a meeting to outline her duties and responsibilities at the weekend, it was discovered that Maire would be 26 when she took part in the world final.
In this case too, the contestant had revealed her age during the initial selection process, but was reassured that it was not a problem, just like what happened to Torika Waters. I think Miss World should train the organisers in different countries before they give them the franchise. As simple as the rules may sound, it is quite clear that the organisers are finding it hard to keep up. It will certainly root out the bad publicity the Miss World brand is receiving. So, first runner- up, Wright Venue Rebecca will now represent Ireland in Miss World 2012.

Here at home, Koini Vakaloloma is getting ready to go to Mongolia too. Vakaloloma, who was raised by her adoptive parents, is using the Miss World platform to advocate on children’s issues. Fijilive reported that she was teased at school because she did not look i- Taukei like her parents.
Vakaloloma has come a long way from those days of school yard teasing, but said she could relate her gowing up to her message to the Miss World Pageant as a real battle to advocate on the Children’s Rights and to show compassion for the underprivileged.
I wish her all the best and  thumbs up to the other runner- ups getting through.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Time to Neutralise the Pageant Drama

With all the revelations with the Miss World Fiji competition this year, it is funny how the international media has labelled Fiji as a racist country. It is true that some racist comments were made on the Mai Life Magazine Facebook page, but that does not mean that that is the view of all the people of Fiji. There are always critics around us, and some even stoop so low. If you had read those comments closely, you would have noticed there were so many other comments that were counteracting the racist comments against Torika Watters.

It is indeed sad that the international media only took the negativity out of the competition. Even after the facts were made clear that Torika was not eligible because of her age, the media stayed on focus with those few Facebook comments. I mean you don’t have to be a genius to know that there will always be people criticising and giving their ‘two cent’ opinions. I think the media should have been more responsible in reporting this story. To make it worse, these were comments made on Facebook, the most informal place I can imagine. However, the way the media reported it overseas was as if there was some sort of anti-Torika protest going on here. It seems to me that the media abroad was just trying to get people’s attention.

E News reported that Torika was dethroned because of the racism. They did mention Torika’s age issue, but it is amusing how they shifted focus to the race issue. I would sort of understand E News reporting this because most of their work is about drama and gossip but it is sad that even the Daily Mail, Fox News and Yahoo News reported the similar stories. If you do a Google search on Torika, almost all results are beginning with the ‘race’ issue. This is really damaging to Fiji especially because we have made tourism our life line and many families depend on it. The negativity portrayed by the media abroad about Fiji is outrageous. To remind you again, that these reports were based on a few Facebook comments. This reminds me of the very basics of Journalism ethics, which has been completely ignored in this case.

The latest in the fiasco is that the head of the Miss World franchise, Julia Morley, will be visiting Fiji. Julia told Fiji Times that;
She was sadly aware of all the problems that occurred since the crowning of 16-year-old Torika Watters as Miss World Fiji a few weeks ago. Ms Watters age drew many to question her maturity and ability to effectively represent Fiji. "I would very much like to visit Fiji and work together with a specially selected team including Andhy to find solutions for the future”.
The same was reported in the Washington Post.

Hopefully her visit to Fiji will patch things up here and re assure the people throughout the world that Fiji is not a racist nation.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

More Scandal in Miss World, Fiji

So it is official now. Torika Watters will be representing Fiji next year in Bali for the Miss World competition. Fiji Live reported yesterday that Andhy Blake opened his laptop in front of her and paraphrased an email from Miss World Chief Executive, Julia Morley, which stated to send Koini Vakaloloma (first runner-up) to Mongolia this year. She stated the reason for this was Torika’s ineligible age.

Torika said she was becoming very uncomfortable with the situation, and was worried about the lies, the deception, the transparency and the lack of professionalism. I can only assume she is referring to Andhy. To make matters even more dramatic, Torika has been asked to return her Crown and her prizes. I still think she deserves some compensation for all this. Again, I stress my logical explanation that it was not her fault in the first place, so why should she suffer for the mistakes that the organisers made.

With this whole controversy, it has also been noted that the charity promised to the Saint Giles Hospital had not reached them yet. Andhy said that he had been kicked out of his house so he could not access his cheque book, as he had left it at his place.
I would like to confirm that my family literally threw me out of the house, due to the embarrassment the false media attention was causing them, and did not give me my cheque book, hence these monies were delayed in being passed onto the girls, I therefore withdraw the money using bank cheques this morning in order to settle the issues at hand.
The Mai Life Magazine facebook page does provide evidential pictures to support the claim that Andhy has paid the girls and donated to the Saint Giles Hospital. The date stated on the cheques issued is May 14, which suits well with the fact that he was kicked out of his house, thus the delay. With all this controversy, one might think that this was some sort of excuse to cater for the delay. Well, whatever the case is, at least the money was paid. Andhy is also planning to legal action against people who have defamed him.

Koini Vakaloloma said to Fiji Village that it was really sad to see how things had turned out as Watters is a beautiful and intelligent individual who deserved to represent Fiji at the pageant. Despite the setbacks, I wish her all the best.

As for Torika, I also hope that things work out well for her, and maybe she should consult a lawyer to act against the Fiji competition organisers. That would be really interesting. I can only imagine how the international media will be swarming over this, if it did happen. Well, you can rest assured as I will be updating you with any other details that come along.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Pageant Drama Continues

It’s almost a month now after the Miss World Fiji Pageant 2012 competition and the drama just keeps getting better and better. At least one thing is certain now; Torika Waters is not representing Fiji in Mongolia this year. First runner - up of the competition, Koini Vakaloloma, will now be showcasing Fiji in Miss World ater this year.

Can you believe it? One month after the Fiji competition, then we get to know who is going to the Miss World 2012. First it was the “native” fiasco. Now, it’s the age debacle. I feel sorry for 16 year old Torika, for getting caught up in all this. I bet this was the last thing she had expected when she signed up for it. On May 13th, The Fiji Times reported that Torika will be representing Fiji next year in Bali, when she is of the entrant cut off age of 17.
This is what she said to The FijiTimes;

He (Andhy Blake) said he would reserve a place for me among the semi-finalists because I was in Sydney at the time. I told him that I would not be turning 17 until next year 2012, and asked if that mattered, he said it was fine ... . I arrived into Fiji on the 8th of April and came to Suva to join the other contestants on the 11th of April

This seems so silly to me now. How could anyone have overlooked that? I’m pretty sure that the limitations of age for entrants are clearly stated. Unless the Miss World organisation wrote such criteria in some sort of code! You all have to pardon my aggression here, but this is actually not the first time such an incident has occurred here in Fiji. And this is what irritates me the most. I’m sure people of Fiji remember the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) lottery. Just to brief the ones who forgot, FRU started selling lottery tickets to raise funds for their World Cup team, but on the last day of sales, they decreased the price of the tickets from $20 to $10. So wasn’t this unfair on the ones who bought it for $20. Thus, the winner was not given his prize money. The matter is yet to be decided by the courts. I still feel sorry for the recklessness the winner had to endure.

Do people intentionally don’t want to follow simple guidelines or are they too ignorant? I wish there was something that could be done for Torika. Well, she’s going to Bali next year, but all the drama that went on before that is just amazing. To make matters worse Torika did ask the organiser here, Andhy Blake, if she was of eligible age and he assured her it was okay.

With my basic knowledge of the law, I think Torika has a firm case of negligence in Torts against the organisers here.

This whole fiasco has been closely watched by people across the world. This story is even a hit in the US;
If it’s one thing the Miss World Fiji has got, is publicity and put Fiji “on the map”, but certainly not in a good way.

It will be interesting to see how this whole fiasco ends. I'm just wondering if there will be a competition next year, now that Andhy has decided that Torika will go to Bali next year. Well, I'll keep you all posted.