KOTA KINABALU: Career-driven Cassandra Yap from Johor has been crowned as Miss International Malaysia (MIM) 2023.
The 24-year-old outshone 16 other finalists throughout the nation to win the title on Sunday (Oct 1) night.
She walked away with RM10,000 cash, an education scholarship worth RM52,975 among other prizes and will be representing Malaysia in the international finale in Tokyo of Japan less than two weeks from now.
The first runner-up is 28-year-old Kimberly Vung while Christina Lee, also 28, from Perak came in third.
Another pageant, 26-year-old Ashlyn Ooi from Kuala Lumpur - whose overall marks and performance came in very close to Yap’s – was selected as the Miss International Malaysia 2024 winner.
Yap, who is no stranger to the pageantry and modelling industry, is hopeful for her coming stint in Tokyo, as she believes as a Malaysian, the multi-cultural background is her advantage.
She said flexibility, adaptability and acceptance of differences are part of every Malaysian life, added that she plans on using this to show the world what Malaysians are and hopefully outshine the other contestants.
Asked on the challenges she faced while preparing for this competition, Yap answered time management.
“I am a freelancer, I do modelling, content creation and pageantry so it is a bit hard to schedule my time. But I am glad that all the efforts paid off,” she said.
She said she had not been in a relationship as she had put all her focus on her career.
"I am not thinking about that at this point because there are many goals that I want to achieve first,” she added.
Yap thanked all her supporters, especially sponsors and fans, who helped her get to where she is now.
MIM 2023 chairman Jenny Ngu explained that the reason for the surprise double crowning is to better prepare contestants at the international level, among others.
“This year, Cassandra will only have 11 days to prepare for the finals in Tokyo but Ashlyn will have a whole year ahead. We want to work our way to the top and let Malaysia bring the international trophy home,” she said.
She said while contestants were not aware of the new arrangement, the organisers and judges did and they did not have a problem with the setting.
Ngu said the competition next year would be a selection for the 2025 representative.
Sabah deputy chief minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, who officiated at the event, said the event enabled beauty pageants to project the nation’s values, ideals and aspirations onto the global stage.
“We can elevate Malaysia’s image, showcasing not just our physical beauty but our values and our aspirations,” he said.
“Each contestant broke the stereotype of pageantry as they emphasised that their worth is beyond their looks. They embody intellect, passion and resilience, painting a picture of the modern Malaysian women’s potential,” added Kitingan.