25-year-old Sarawakian Francisca Luhong James emerged victorious after besting 17 other contestants to secure the coveted title at the Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 e-Gala event!
Francisca rejoices after winning Miss Universe Malaysia 2020
The pageant, which took place in a closed-door venue in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 5 September 2020, was live-streamed to paying viewers on the Miss Universe Malaysia website.
Francisca, a Kayan-Kenyah-Iban native hailing from Kuching, also snatched up the Best In Evening Gown and Miss Auto Bavaria Elegance subsidiary titles. The Public Relations & Marketing Executive, who models in her spare time, has two younger brothers, making her adept at being a role model. She also loves coming up with her own dance moves, upping the mileage on her running shoes and burying her nose in books.
Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 Shweta Sekhon passing on her crown to her successor
She inherits the jaw-dropping ‘Reflection’ crown by Habib featuring a 10-carat diamond set in white gold worth RM2.38 million from Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 Shweta Sekhon. On top of that, Francisca also received cash and sponsored prizes amounting to RM180,000 in value, as well as a full education scholarship from HELP University. She will go on to represent Malaysia on the international stage at the Miss Universe competition, which is currently forecast to be held in the first quarter of 2021.
Francisca (right) and eventual first runner-up Charissa Chong Su Huey moments before the winner announcement by host Hansen Lee
Meanwhile, 26-year-old Charissa Chong Su Huey from Selangor secured the first runner-up position, followed by Serene Chai Yong Bin, also 26, from Johor as the second runner-up. KL-ite Neha Varma, aged 22, was named third runner-up.
The ladies who made it to the top four this year: (L-R) second runner-up Serene Chai Yong Bin, Miss Universe Malaysia, first runner-up Charissa Chong Su Huey Francisca and third runner-up Neha Varma
The newly crowned Francisca said, “It feels surreal, I didn’t expect this but I worked really hard throughout this journey and I’m really, really grateful, and feel blessed for this opportunity, and I would like to say thank you so much for all the love and support that I have received from my parents, friends and followers.
“My advocacy is on women empowerment and I believe that women empowerment begins with yourself. I realised that when I fell and got back up, a lot of people lost their trust me in during my journey. What I learnt is that believing in yourself is the most important thing in order to achieve your goals. I’ve been on this pageant journey for a very long time and I actually wanted to give up on pageants before, but something told me that I should join Miss Universe Malaysia, so I just followed my heart.”
The full list of 12 subsidiary title winners are as follows:
- Miss Congeniality: Celine Foo, 26
- Miss Online Personality: Neha Varma, 22
- Best In Evening Gown: Francisca Luhong James, 25
- Miss Body Beautiful: Louisa Ananthan, 22
- Miss HABIB: Neha Varma, 22
- Miss La Jung Youthful Forever: Serene Chai Yong Bin, 26
- Miss Dermalogica Healthy Skin: Pritha Manivannan, 27
- Miss Glojas Glowing Beauty: Pritha Manivannan, 27
- Shawn Cutler Hair Award: Rindsay Rachelle Laige, 22
- Miss Auto Bavaria Elegance: Francisca Luhong James, 25
- Miss Strip Body Confidence: Charissa Chong Su Huey, 26
- Skinz Sanctuary Flawless Skin: Serene Chai Yong Bin, 26
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the competition was streamed live for the very first time to mitigate issues that come with physical distancing measures. Tickets to the e-Gala live-stream were sold to the public, with 20% of the proceeds from ticket sales being channeled to Lighthouse Children Welfare Home Association Kuala Lumpur & Selangor.
The Miss Malaysia Universe 2020 finalists looking resplendent
Also new this year, viewers got to vote for their favourite finalist in three categories; Miss Body Beautiful, Best in Evening Gown, and the winner of Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 during the live show.
Aqeesh Aleeya regaling the audience, both live and virtual, with her vocals
The e-Gala panel of judges consisted of seven prominent figures in the industry, namely Dato’ Hans Isaac, Actor, Director & Producer; Datin Selwinder Kaur, CEO of Glojas by Smart International Aesthetic; Dr Nicholas Lim, Medical Director & Aesthetic Medical Practitioner of La Jung Aesthetic Clinic; Deborah Henry, Miss Universe Malaysia 2011; Carven Ong, Creative Designer of Carven Ong Couture; Janet Chieng, Executive Director of Esthetics International Group; and Shawn Loong, Celebrity Stylist, Founder & Creative Director of Shawn Cutler Group of Salons, and current L’Oreal Artistic Ambassador.
Touching on what lies before Francisca, Datin Elaine Daly, National Director of the Miss Universe Malaysia Organization (MUMO) said, “It’s going to be a long journey, it’s going to be hard work, but all I can say is that she must persevere, trust in the process and enjoy her reign. Congratulations to our new queen, welcome to the MUMO family, and we look forward to working with her to put Malaysia’s name on the world map.”
The title presenter of Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 is La Jung Aesthetic Clinic with main partner Auto Bavaria, and official sponsors (in alphabetical order): Babel, BeeQNails, Bioxil Innertreats, Bio-Therapeutic, Dermalogica, Ghd, Glojas Smart International Aesthetics, Habib, HELP University, Hotel Majestic Kuala Lumpur, Hotel Stripes Kuala Lumpur, Imej Jiwa Communications, Jeeves, Juicify, Makeup Miracle Academy & Workshop, Mlab.co, Owl by Dowlani, Shawn Cutler, Runway Productions, Skinz Sanctuary, Strip – Ministry of Waxing, Tisserand Aromatherapy, UHY, Vogue Lounge; and Official Online TV Channel, hurr.tv.
Check out the gallery below for more pictures of the e-Gala night!