Francisca Luhong James is crowned Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 by Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 Shweta Sekhon.

KUCHING: Francisca Luhong James from Sarawak was crowned Miss Universe Malaysia 2020, after beating 17 other contestants at a closed-door event of the beauty pageant competition.

The event was streamed live on the Miss Universe Malaysia’s website last Saturday (Sept 5).

Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 Francisca Luhong James

The 25-year-old Kayan-Kenyah-Iban, from here, also won ‘Best in Evening Gown’ and ‘Miss Auto Bavaria Elegance’ subsidiary titles.

According to a press statement, placed as first runner-up is Charissa Chong Su Huey, 26, from Selangor, while Serene Chai Yong Bin, 26, from Johor was named second runner-up, and Neha Varma, 22 from Kuala Lumpur as the third runner-up.

Francisca, who received the stunning ‘Reflection’ crown by Habib Jewels featuring a 10-carat diamond set in white gold worth RM2.38 million from the previous winner, Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 Shweta Sekhon, also took home cash and sponsored prizes with a combined value of RM180,000 as well as a full education scholarship from HELP University.

Final result and crowning of Miss Universe Malaysia 2020

She will represent Malaysia on the international stage at the Miss Universe competition, likely to be held in the first quarter of 2021 at a yet-to-be-revealed location.

“This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the competition was streamed live for the very first time with the 18 finalists and panel of judges present without an audience in line with physical distancing measures, the statement said on Sunday (Sept 6).

The newly-crowned Francisca said that it felt surreal, and didn’t expect it at all.

“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 you.

“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 wanted to give up, but something told me that I should join Miss Universe Malaysia, so I just followed my heart,” she said.

Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 press conference