Miss Tibet expelled from tourism pageant

Tribune India News Service 21 February 2005

Dharamsala, February 20

The expulsion of Miss Tibet Tashi Yangchen from Miss Tourism World pageant, allegedly under pressure from the Chinese Embassy, has left the Tibetan community here distraught.

The decision came as a bolt from the blue for both Tashi and her scores of fans. She had already taken part in some of the events of the pageant, which is being held in Harare, Zimbabwe. She had reached there on February 13.

Mr Lobsang Wangyal, director of the Miss Tibet contest, said he had spoken to the organisers of the Miss Tourism World pageant in Zimbabwe and they had admitted that this had been done under pressure from the Chinese Government.

"Beijing directed the Chinese Embassy in Harare to ensure expulsion of Miss Tibet from the Miss Tourism World pageant. This is what they told me over the phone. The finale of the pageant is scheduled on February 26 and around 90 countries are participating in the pageant," he said.

"I spoke to Tashi. She was very upset as a lot of hard work had gone into preparing for the contest. The entire Tibetan community had been looking forward to see her perform there. She is presently in London and would soon reach India," he said.

Taiwan is also represented in the pageant as Chinese Taipei. It was earlier shown as a separate country but due to Chinese objection it also had to be represented under the current title, added Mr Wangyal.

Miss Tourism World is a British production. Miss Tibet is chosen from Tibetan exiles around the world.

"We feel that it is very unfortunate that politics dictates the dreams and aspirations of young women. The Miss Tibet pageant has nothing to do with politics. It is about brains and beauty of young Tibetan women and to showcase the unique Tibetan cultural heritage in a contemporary fashion," he said.

Mr Tenzin Tsundue, a local businessman, said the entire thing had come as a shock for all her fans. "The entire concept of Miss Tibet is based on freedom of women and the international community should not have given in to political pressure. Such contests should be fair and free from politics," he said.

Tashi Yangchen is a 24-year-old computer engineer from Sikkim, also won the Miss Photogenic-2004 title, as decided by the public through online and ballot voting at the Miss Tibet pageant last year.

The five contenders for the coveted title — Dhondup Wangmo, Kalsang Dickey, Sonam Dickey, Tashi Yangchen and Thinlay Dolma — had taken part in seven rounds during a three-day pageant, and were judged on certain criteria including intelligence, articulation, confidence, artistic ability and stage presence.

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