Miss Universe Vietnam criticized for insensitive question at beauty pageant

By Huynh My   October 30, 2023 | 01:29 am PT
Miss Universe Vietnam 2017 H’Hen Nie drew ire for asking a beauty pageant contestant what she would do if her parents and brother all fell out of a boat into the water.
Miss Universe Vietnam 2017 H’Hen Nie. Photo from H’Hen Nies Instagram

Miss Universe Vietnam 2017 H’Hen Nie. Photo from H’Hen Nie's Instagram

"I really like H’Hen Nie but I have to admit that this question was too much," a social media user called Dang Minh wrote in the comment section under a video reporting the situation.

With its qualification round held in the format of a reality show, the 2023 Miss Cosmo Vietnam pageant, in which H’Hen Nie took part as a judge, started airing over last weekend.

In the first episode of the show, the beauty queen asks contestant Bui Thi Xuan Hanh: "You, your parents, and your younger brother board a boat."

"Unfortunately, the boat sinks and everyone falls into the water. Who will you save first?"

Taken aback by the question, Hanh remained silent for a few moments before giving her answer. She eventually said she would save whoever was closest to her since it would be a "moment of life and death [with no time for careful contemplation]."

To this H’Hen Nie showed her satisfaction. The beauty queen stood-up clapping and commented that Hanh’s answer was the "right" one.

Many social media users have said that they see the insensitive question showed no respect to the contestant.

"The question was not even relevant to the contest," a netizen named Binh An wrote. "It is inconsiderate to pose a risky scenario like that to the contestant’s family, especially in a beauty contest."

Others argued otherwise, saying that the question was simply aimed to test the contestant’s attitudes and reflexes. H’Hen Nie had also given a disclaimer that it was merely a question with "nothing serious," and thus should not be criticized for it, they added.

Neither H’Hen Nie or the contest organizers have publicly commented on the issue.

H’Hen Nie, 31, of the Ede ethnic group, was born in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. She represented Vietnam at the 2018 Miss Universe contest and made it to the top 5.

Miss Cosmo Vietnam 2023 is a contest aimed at selecting Vietnam’s representatives at international beauty pageants. The final night of this year’s contest is set to take place on Dec. 31 at the Central Highlands Da Lat city.

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