The Wall Street Journal reports today that Miss Vietnam 2008, 18-year-old Trãn Thi Thuý Dung, was stripped of her crown after officials discovered she hadn't completed high school. The scandal puts Vietnam in a tough spot, as it might not have a viable contestant to send to the Miss World competition on Nov. 15th.
Vietnam -- a country that's taking the bad news very seriously -- has an interesting history when it comes to beauty competitions. After the country's first national pageant in 1988, the grand prize, a bike, was stolen from the winner. Last July, Vietnam played host to the Miss Universe contest, with Jerry Springer and Scary Spice hosting the awards ceremony.
And yet, there is no formal requirement that contestants must complete a certain level of education before entering, a fact that Vietnam's contest organizers concede. The reaction over Thuý Dung's lost title has thus been mixed and the public has rallied to her defense.
Although other national pageants don't have such stringent rules (the United States gives its contestant winners a six-month window to complete high school), Le Ngoc Cuong, a spokesman for the contest, views a high-school diploma as vital. Otherwise, "lots of girls would drop out of school to focus on beauty pageants," he said.
As for Thuý Dung, crown or not, she's behaving like a true queen, sending a healthy message to young ladies of the world: She's going back to school, and says, "I wish Vietnam can still find the right candidate to send to Miss World, even if it isn't me."