KUALA LUMPUR: Model and television host Deborah Henry has been crowned Miss Universe Malaysia 2011, the second time she has won a national beauty contest.
“I am honoured and privileged to be representing Malaysia on the world stage,” said Deborah, who is of Indian-Irish descent.
“I’m in it to win. If I never take part, I will never know how far I will go for the rest of my life.”
The 26-year-old currently runs the Save the Kids Education Fund, an education centre for Somali refugee children.
Deborah, who won the Miss World Malaysia title in 2007, was selected by popular vote via the pageant’s official Facebook page combined with the views of a panel of judges.
The panel comprised Miss Universe Malaysia Pageant national director Andrea Fonseka, local actor Hans Isaac and Russian beauty expert Julia Dolmatova.
Fonseka, who was Miss Universe Malaysia in 2004, said they chose a contestant with experience as they did not have the time and resources to groom a greenhorn.
“There are no rules that say a former winner of another beauty pageant can’t join the Miss Universe pageant,” Fonseka said.
She added that Trincy Low, who won the Miss World Malaysia title in 1995, had also won the Miss Universe Malaysia title in 1997.
Other Miss Universe Malaysia 2011 finalists included Gail James, Cassandra Patrick, Jennifer Pedersen, Kelly Jagan, Mourhna Reddy, Patricia Sue-Lin Kundsen, Stefanie Chua and Thanuja Ananthan.
Deborah will represent Malaysia at the Miss Universe pageant in Sao Paolo, Brazil, in September.
Miss Universe Malaysia 2012 will also be crowned in September this year as part of the pageant’s new format that aims to provide more training for future contestants.
Fonseka said Latin American countries normally had up to 12 months to train their contenders while Malaysia had to complete the process in just three months.
“We believe future contestants will have a better shot at winning the Miss Universe title now that we have a longer period to train them,” she added.
Miss Universe Malaysia is part of the international Miss Universe franchise owned and managed by the Trump Organisation in a joint venture with NBC Universal.