Newly crowned Miss Tourism 2022 has a knack for numbers

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia’s newly crowned Miss Tourism 2022, Phoebe Ong, loves math, statistics and anything that has to do with numbers.

She pursued her higher education in actuarial science at the University of Kent in the United Kingdom, and came back with a degree in it in 2019.

Having spent most of her high school days studying, she rarely got time to work on her appearance or put much effort into it, even though she was known as the school flower (a nickname for the most beautiful girl).

As Ong grew into adulthood, she wanted to do something ‘girly’ for a change, something that showed her feminine side.

“I have been thinking and wanting to try pageantry, because I felt that I can challenge myself to do something that I am not used to,” said the 25-year-old insurance agent when contacted.

This year, she finally built up her courage and signed up for the Miss Sabah Tourism pageant and won, thus bringing her to the national level pageant held in Ipoh, Perak in September.

“To my surprise, I won in Ipoh, too,” said Ong, who recalls having trouble learning the catwalk and public speaking during her preparations for the competition.

She said the long hours she took to prepare and learn from the experts including the organiser Sandra Ban, her aching ankles and feet and tired eyes, were worth it when she was named the winners in both the state and national level pageants.

With her new title, the elder of two siblings wishes to use the opportunity given to promote what Malaysia has to offer for visitors.

Ong said in Sabah for example, she wishes to highlight its nature and friendly people, as well as the uniqueness of Sabahans who live peacefully regardless of race and religion.

“I want to tell the world and fellow Malaysians how beautiful Sabah is, how wonderful the people are and the importance of tolerance, mutual respect and love for harmony,” she said.

However, she wants to also educate locals on the need to maintain their homestays or any tourist sites so that people will want to return for another visit.

“It is also vital that we keep our home and country clean. Nobody wants to visit a dirty place,” Ong said.

She also urged women to find courage to try something new, something they are afraid of and just widen their experience and knowledge in various fields.

She said they would be surprised at what they can accomplish, not to mention the wonderful experience gained, as well as the new friendships made throughout their journey by trying out something new.

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