ปทุมรัตน์ วรมาลี และ แอนนีต้า เคอกิกคา
The 1989 edition of Miss World is the harbinger of good things to come for the pageant. For the first time ever, the finals night was held outside London (yes, it took Miss World 38 years to go overseas) and environment was the central issue so much so that the interview portion of Miss World 1989 sounds so much like a Miss Earth pageant.
But Miss World 1989 holds a special place for one particular country – Thailand. Despite that the pageant is being held in Asia (with Taiwan as one of the locations that the contestants visited), no other Asian nation managed to eke out a place in the semis except Thailand.
Wearing a blue swimsuit that revealed her amazing figure, Pathumrat Woramali became Thailand’s Mpule. She ended the 16-year drought for her country at Miss World. What strikes the pageant observers the most is her American accent. Pathumrat a.k.a. Helen talked comfortably about how her country is dealing with the pressing environmental issues including the banning of exports of teak and finding solutions to the traffic jams.
Pathumrat eventually made history for becoming the 3rd runner-up and the Continental Queen of Asia. This is by far the highest placement of Thailand at the Miss World pageant.
Fast forward and the setting was dramatically changed from towering skyscrapers of Hong Kong to the white powdery beaches of Seychelles. It’s Miss World 1997 and Thailand made it though the semis once again.
Devoid of any Thai accent, Tanya Suesuntisook wowed the judges with her Top 10 interview. She first greeted the crowd in various languages including Spanish, Arabic and Hebrew. She called for universal peace and ended her call by singing some notes proving that she’s also a capable singer.
Tanya was seen as confident and intelligent. She walked onstage with such a queenly aura. She placed among the Top 5 and was adjudged as the 4th runner-up. She could have been the Continental Queen of Asia but the winner of Miss World 1997 was from India.
With Top 5 finish in 1989 and 1997, what happened to the Thai delegates in between those years? Why has Thailand failed to sustain the momentum of Pathumrat? Well, it is not all bad for Thailand but the country could have made it better.
After Pathumrat’s success at Miss World 1989, Panida Umsaard (a.k.a. Chanakarn Chaisri) carried Thailand’s banner at the Miss World 1990. Unfortunately she was unplaced.
In 1991, Rewaedee Malaisee (a.k.a. Issariya Apichai) competed at the Miss World pageant held in Atlanta in the United States. She was also unplaced although the preliminary scores did show that Thailand’s placement improved.
Metinee Kingpayome represented Thailand at Miss World 1992. The pageant was held in Sun City, South Africa amidst the rapidly changing political world. Soviet Union collapsed along with the Iron Curtain and apartheid in South Africa was on its last breath. White Metinee failed to be in the semis, she was the highest ranked Asian as she was named as the Continental Queen of Asia.
Matoros Kato Leaudsakda represented Thailand in Miss World 1993. The pageant was once again held in South Africa and Thailand was unplaced.
At Miss World 1994, Patinya Thongsri carried the Thailand sash. While she was not one of the semifinalists, Patinya can be proud of her Miss Personality Award. The award was given to the most congenial candidate as voted by her fellow contestants.
Miss World Thailand failed to conduct a contest to select its Miss World 1995. So the organization chose the 1994 first runner-up, Yasumin Leautamornwattana. She was unplaced in the pageant.
In 1996, Sirinya Winsiri a.k.a. Cindy Burbridge represented Thailand at Miss World. The half-American beauty was unfortunately ignored but post-Miss World, she became a famous supermodel in her country.
Indeed, in between 1989 and 1997, Thailand failed to bank on its momentum. Some suggest that since Pathumrat and Tanya were both raised in the United States and has good command of the English language, they both met the demands of Miss World especially on interviews. But it must be noted that both were active in participating pageants in the US prior joining the Miss World Thailand pageant. Most of the Thai representatives at Miss World were local models with little pageant experience and poor command of the English language.
To suggest however that a Thai delegate should be raised in the US and should speak good English to have better chances at the Miss World may not be true after all. For example, Lada Engchawadechasilp who grew up in Los Angeles failed to be in the semis while Sirirat Rueangsri, whose English is laden with Thai accent, made it.
Thailand is yet to win a Miss World crown while its Big4 titles are two Miss Universe crowns (interesting to note that Miss Universe 1988 Porntip Nakhirunkanok also grew up in the US and spoke perfect English). The formula on how to win the Miss World crown still eludes Thailand. But while the task to bring home the elusive crown may seem to be Herculean, the passion of the Thai people and the support it lends to its delegate never waned. The Miss World 2014 top 11 finish of Thailand via pubic voting simply proves this.