Zivanna Letisha Siregar -- the near Miss Universe 2009

The near Miss Universe 2009. A "near miss". You don't get the play of words? Okay, never mind.

Despite the bad joke, this post is as a matter of fact a kind of tribute to Miss Indonesia, Zivanna Letisha Siregar, who according to the online poll sponsored by contest officials, was favoured to win the title of Miss Universe 2009! "I have the power!" Zivanna Letisha Siregar (or in short, Zizi) might have screamed in delight as she saw the incredibly positive poll result. She too could have felt a little uneasy, though, for quoting her favourite TV show, Masters of the Universe.

Well done, Zivanna Letisha Siregar aka Zizi! You have done great & many of us do hope that Wikipedia post on Miss Universe 2009 will soon be updated to include your achievement in that offical online poll. Heh.

More galleries from the Miss Universe: Galleries on Miss Indonesia: here. I'm especially curious about her photo no.5: she was wearing an archer costume as Srikandi?

Beauties from Latin America and Asia emerged as the crowd favorites as the quest for the next Miss Universe draws to a close.

An online poll sponsored by contest officials favoured Miss Indonesia Zivanna Letisha Siregar, followed by Miss Brazil Larissa Costa and Miss Guatemala Lourdes Figueroa on the eve of showdown among 15 Miss Universe finalists vying for the crown in the Bahamas.

Observers cast tens of thousands of anonymous votes by Internet.

Latin American contestants held 11 of the 15 top slots in the informal poll. Reigning Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza is from Venezuela.

Contest officials closed a comment section of the online poll because more than 50,000 submissions were recorded in the first couple of days.

'It was just so excessive,' said Mr Carl Althoff, a spokesman for the pageant. 'We weren't able to monitor them.'

Dozens of tourists milled about the media centre at the Atlantis hotel on Saturday, trying to slip past security and get an unauthorised glimpse of the ballroom where the event was due be held yesterday.

They stopped chattering and stared as pageant co-owner Donald Trump strolled by with two bodyguards.

'Incredible!' proclaimed Mr Frederic Battut, who flew in from Paris to watch the event.

His companion, Mr Fernando Alzate, wore a T-shirt emblazoned with Miss Colombia's name. But contest officials told him he would not be admitted unless he found a jacket for the event.

Tourism officials in the Bahamas hoped the pageant will stimulate an economy hard hit by the global economic crisis: The Four Seasons Resort Great Exuma hotel announced in May that it would close and pageant host Atlantis dismissed about 800 employees this season.

By Saturday night, about 2,700 tickets of the 3,100 available for the show were sold, said Ms Glenda Johnson of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

From The New Paper, "Miss Universe 2009: Miss Indonesia is Internet favourite to take crown".

Despite a strong showing in online voting, Indonesian Miss Universe candidate Zivanna Letisha Siregar didn't figure in the beauty contest's top 15 in the pageant held in Nassau, the Bahamas.

In fact, no Asian faces graced the pageant's top 15 on Monday, though the Miss Congeniality title went to Miss China, Wang Jingyao, 19, while Miss Thailand, Chutima Durongdej, 23, got the Miss Photogenic title.

Miss Venezuela, Stefania Fernandez, 18, was crowned the winner in the 58th annual pageant, which is co-owned by American billionaire Donald Trump. But Venezuela's win has drawn strong reactions among some pageant-watchers. 'Another plastic Venezuelan?' said Ms Tan Mei Ling, a 31-year-old who works in the advertising industry. 'Do we really need another one of those women as Miss Universe?'

However, pundits said Miss Venezuela just has the X-factor. Venezuela has won more Miss Universe and Miss World competitions than any other country, noted the Associated Press (AP).

Some girls begin training to be contestants from as young as five. Its pageant industry has drawn criticism for pressuring contestants to have cosmetic surgery, said the AP report.

Miss Fernandez was crowned by fellow Venezuelan Dayana Mendoza, who was last year's champion. It is the sixth time a Venezuelan has taken the Miss Universe title. 'She evokes the glamour of 1940s screen goddess Rita Hayworth,' enthused Mr Josepeh Vitug, a writer with GlobalBeauties.com, a 10-year-old Internet portal on pageants.

The other top five finalists include runner-up Miss Dominican Republic, Ada Aimee de la Cruz, followed by Miss Kosovo, Droga Ganusha; Miss Australia, Rachael Finch; and Miss Puerto Rico, Mayra Matos Perez.

Miss Zivanna, 20, failed to advance to the swimsuit round, said the Jakarta Globe, even though she was No. 1 in the pageant's Internet poll. The poll saw tens of thousands of observers casting votes for the 84 contestants via the Internet.

Thailand's Miss Durongdej came in at No. 5 on the poll, while Miss Vietnam, Hoang Yen Vo, took sixth place. Miss Philippines, Bianca Manalo, was placed at No. 11. Miss Singapore, 24-year-old Rachel Kum, came in at No. 55 in the poll, but did not advance beyond the swimsuit round.

'I am so turned off by this,' wrote netizen Banana on Yahoo Buzz, in response to the results. 'Not one Asian figured in the top 15, considering four out of the top 11 in (the online poll) are Asians... There are more beautiful and intelligent women around the world aside from (those from) Venezuela!'

From Straits Times, "Why did Asians lose out?".


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