What’s On

Beauty contest slammed for insisting show must go on amid raging typhoon in central Vietnam

By Y Ly, Vi Vu   November 7, 2017 | 12:52 pm GMT+7

The lights were on and the cameras rolling while the rest of Nha Trang suffered in darkness.

A beauty contest has received an avalanche of online backlash for deciding to proceed with its semifinal in Nha Trang on Saturday while the rest of the beach town was struggling to cope with the destructive Typhoon Damrey, prompting the Vietnamese government to step in.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism asked the organizers of Miss Universe Vietnam late Monday to postpone the rest of contest until the aftermath of the massive storm has been dealt with.

Given that the final of the contest is not due to take place for another month, some would argue the ministry's decision is merely a symbolic move aimed at appeasing the angry public.

Some Vietnamese netizens have disparaged the beauty pageant as “inhumane” and “greedy” for turning its lights on while most people in Nha Trang were struggling without power, clean water and in some cases roofs over their heads.

The performance was aired live on national television, alongside coverage of the mounting death toll.

Around 4,000 viewers reportedly tuned in, a low number in a country where beauty contests are still treated as major events and beauty queens are revered by some as idols.

Nha Trang is a famous resort town in Vietnam and the capital city of Khanh Hoa Province, one of the areas hardest hit by Damrey. The storm has so far claimed 61 lives and left 28 people missing; tens of thousands of houses in the province and neighboring areas have been damaged.

Khanh Hoa’s culture department said it had previously asked the contest’s organizers to put on hold all entertainment activities before and during the typhoon to focus on dealing with the disaster.

However, the department added that it had no authority to stop the event because it was licensed by the ministry.

In response, the organizers said the semifinal had taken place after the rain had stopped, an explanation bashed as a “stupid excuse” by many members of the public.

As of Tuesday morning, public workers in Nha Trang were still clearing uprooted trees, schools remained closed, people were desperately trying to charge their phones in coffee shops and the beach was shut.