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Cambodia: Defining Modesty

After its absence for a decade, in this new millennium Cambodia sets to organize its first Miss Beauty competition. The nominated contestant will participate in next year’s Miss Universe contest. However, in an effort to preserve Cambodian culture, as suggested by the Ministry of Culture, swimsuit is not allowed, at least in domestic pageant.

It was in 1993 and 1995 that the country organized the Miss Beauty competitions. And the skimpy attire was also banned from the earlier contests. Socially conservative, largest population of the country is predominantly Buddhist.

The Culture Ministry said contestants cannot take to the stage in swimsuits.

Contestants must be properly attired at all times “to preserve Cambodian culture,” said Sim Sarak, a director-general of Cambodia's Culture Ministry. “There will be no section for a swimsuit parade in the event because our country has not yet advanced to that level.”

Knowing that the presence of Miss Cambodia in the upcoming contest will make the Cambodians proud, a Cambodian native writes:

Her present in the contest will map our country to the world. If she could make it to the top ten she could possibly use the situation to increase the world's awareness to Cambodia's present situation, highlight the need for better health care and the much needed help for the deprived children back home. But whether she can make it into the top ten or not we are already a winner.


For people who travel the world, modesty is natural. But, from one society to another, it is yet a point of debate. Guy at SweetCucumber writes:

The bikini was invented 60 years ago. Time to move on, guys…
Or like Garrison Keillor, the American humourist, said: “Looking at a girl in a bikini is like have a loaded revolver on the table: there’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s difficult to think of anything else.”

But a Singaporean hopes that:
“Given the recent success of Kurara Chibana in this year's Miss Universe pageant, Miss Cambodia should hopefully stand a good chance of doing well in next year's competition!”

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