Malaysia boleh? Not at Miss Universe!


Boleh is a Malay word – understood in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam – which means can. Thus “Malaysia boleh” is translated as “Malaysia can” which is more like a nationalistic rallying cry evoking the can do spirit of the a nation.

While the phrase has been used in sporting events or economic planning which brought Malaysia into an unprecedented economic growth, it seems that such catchphrase can never be used at Miss Universe.

Just recently, Malaysia crowned Kiran Jassal as Miss Universe Malaysia 2016. She will compete at the Miss Universe 2016 pageant in a yet to be disclosed venue. But before she even steps on stage, the odds are stacked against her.

Official results of Miss Universe Malaysia 2016 pageant: Winner: Kiran Jassal 1st runner-up: Dhivya Dhyana 2nd runner-up: Lina Soong 3rd runner-up: Swarna Naidu 4th runner-up: Nisha Sema
Official results of Miss Universe Malaysia 2016 pageant:
Winner: Kiran Jassal
1st runner-up: Dhivya Dhyana
2nd runner-up: Lina Soong
3rd runner-up: Swarna Naidu
4th runner-up: Nisha Sema

While Southeast Asia is enjoying the latest trend with Philippines winning, Thailand at Top 10 and Indonesia at Top 15, Malaysia lags terribly at Miss Universe. It only registered a single Top 15 finish – back in 1970 through Josephine Lena Wong.

With the renaissance of pageantry ongoing with newcomer Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and Myanmar, pageantry in Malaysia continue to stagnate. Most of the national winners are ethnic Indian or Chinese women. Meanwhile, Malay ladies are officially barred from joining pageants especially with swimsuit segment. Ethnic Malays constitutes 60% of the overall population.

Because Malaysia is officially an Islamic nation, women who comes from the most dominant ethnic group are blocked off from participating in the pageants. Contrast with the more liberal and secular attitude of neighboring Indonesia. Well in fact, Indonesia’s Miss Universe 2015 contestant is a Muslim yet was never afraid to walk onstage on the swimsuit.

For Malaysia to join with rest of its resurgent neighbors, it must relax its laws in prohibiting Malays women from joining pageants. If nothing will be done, the country will continue to be at the backwaters of the world of pageantry.


  1. 4 of 5 winners (runners up included) are women of Indian origin….he he…. Indian origin women are making their mark from countries other than India. In 2014 Miss Singapore in MU and MW were both Indians. In MU 2014, atleast 4 countries were represented by Ethnic Indians……Miss America 2013 or 2012 was won by an Indian as well and flared a online white american controversy

    • I think she is Muslim. anyway, Indians can become very good beauty queen candidates, but the Bollywood porn culture makes Present Indian candidates very trashy. Sushmita Sen has a big problem in her hands.

  2. personally I am keeping my eyes on Burma/ Myanmar. Now that Philippines has got its due, Myanmar is the country to be watched….followed by Vietnam.

    • I too would like to see more Asian countries enter the semifinals. However, I’m sure the Philippines will always be one of the “must watch” countries in Miss Universe. I won’t be surprised if the Philippines enters the semifinals almost every year; a top 15 spot is almost always secured as it is with USA and Venezuela.

  3. Malaysian candidates lack appeal due to their Islamic values that are against women and feminine freedom. They are backwards in uplifting the values of women to be confident according to what women want without the social BS pressure from men or the Muslim elders which will continue to bar many Malaysian potential contestants from finding well qualified candidates which will mean one thing… An annual Malaysian “Clapper”.

  4. what happens if malay women are allowed into the pageant? and how is this connected to the chances of making big into the MU? do ethnic minorities have lesser chances becoz they do not look like mainstream even though they are very much citizens of that country? I dont get this article.