Saturday May 15, 2010
By YU JI
Photos by ANDRE OLIVEIRO
BEAUTY pageant winners often go into careers quite unrelated to their glamorous beginnings.
Take 1992 Kumang Gawai winner, Pamela Ragam, for example. She won the pageant on her first try at just 19 years of age, then followed up on her winning streak at the 1993 Kuching Festival Queen pageant, where she got second. She also made it as a Miss Sarawak finalist the following year.
Currently, Pamela, 35, is a businesswoman. She runs a modest stationary supply sole-proprietorship in Kuching.
“In the first place, I got into the beauty pageant scene unplanned,” Pamela told StarMetro. “I wasn’t that hopeful, but to my surprise, I became the Kumang. It was a great feeling and I was relatively successful at other pageants later on.”
But what impeded her early career was not lack of determination, instead, it was lack of opportunities.
“Back then, there wasn’t much of a modelling scene,” Pamela recalled. “And I don’t think the scene has improved much since then. In Peninsular Malaysia, yes; but not here, unfortunately.”
Pamela is head coach to the 15 finalists for this year’s Kumang Gawai pageant. Speaking to StarMetro at the final rehearsal on Thursday night, Pamela said she felt honoured to be imparting her knowledge and experience.
“Looking at all these young girls, I see part of me in them.”
To be good in a beauty pageant takes nerves. In fact, it is no surprise that a few of the finalists this year are Mass Communication degree graduates and students.
“It’s a combination of knowledge and confidence,” Pamela said. “To me, there’s no clear distinction between urban and rural kids or how well they’re educated. I feel that having the kind of confidence to present yourself, in any situation, but especially on stage, is innate. Some kids are just more confidence than others.”
But with so much emphasis on knowledge these days, are beauty pageants losing its lustre?
“I think there will always be a time and place for beauty, for grace,” Pamela said.
“Furthermore, the Kumang Gawai is an opportunity for Dayaks to show off our tradition and culture. It’s a chance for girls across Sarawak to get together and learn from each other. In today’s society, any exposure is good.”
Keeping in step with the times, the pageant winner this year will go on to become Sarawak Dayak National Union’s (SDNU) ambassador.
As such, the judging criteria has been tweaked, placing more emphasis on public speaking skills. The pageant’s main organiser Senorita Linang said 20% of the judging criteria will be based on speaking abilities.
“At the very least, the finalists should be fluent in English and Bahasa Malaysia,” Senorita said. “Poise and personality will cover another 30% while the remainder is on beauty.”
The pageant, which will be held tonight, is the highlight of SDNU’s annual Gawai Dinner. Initially, more than 20 girls signed up for the pageant. Besides the ambassadorship, the winner will also walk away with RM5,000. The second place winner will receive RM3,000 and third place, RM2,000.
Meanwhile, The Star is sponsoring a RM1,000 prize for the pageant’s Miss Photogenic subsidiary title.
Social Development and Urbanisation Minister Datuk Seri William Mawan Ikom will officiate at the dinner at the Christian Ecumenical Centre, Jalan Laksamana Cheng Ho in Kuching.