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First official beauty pageant in Communist Vietnam
9/26/2002 5:34:00 AM
Pham Thi Mai Phuong, 17, was crowned "Miss Vietnam" in the communist nation's first government-recognized beauty pageant.
This young beauty said she will finish high school and then enroll in a foreign trade college during her two-year reign.
"I think most people in Vietnam, as in other countries, support beauty contests, and will have a chance to see that Vietnamese women are not only beautiful, but also intelligent and clever," she said.
The pageant, organized by the Communist Youth League's newspaper, has held beauty contests every year since 1988, but without official recognition, and in which the winner was crowned "Miss Nation Sponsored by Tien Phong Newspaper" or "Miss Tien Phong" for short.
"We acknowledge that this is a significant cultural event which has broad support," said Bui Quoc Bao, head of the Ministry of Culture and Information's grassroots culture and arts bureau.
Beauty contests were once mocked by the Communist Party and seen as a sign of capitalist decadence, but economic reforms over the past 15 years have led to increased Western influence as well as the loosening of Marxist dogma.
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