Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The man behind the misses

Meet Ko Lamai Robin, the organiser of Myanmar’s first international beauty pageant.

Lamai Robin gave the opening speech at Mister Universal Ambassador Myanmar 2016 Final in Mandalay. Photo - suppliedLamai Robin gave the opening speech at Mister Universal Ambassador Myanmar 2016 Final in Mandalay. Photo - supplied

What did you do before entering the pageant business?

I did many things. I studied in Malaysia, I did a stint as an assistant manager in a bar. When I came back to Myanmar, I competed in “Where Dreams Meet”, a singing competition. Me and two friends won as a boy band. We won but we didn’t pursue music after the competition. I then worked in a German company as a consultant for over two years and I opened a Kachin restaurant called VIP, named after our boy band.

Where does your interest in pageants come from?

I grew up in a Christian society, and from an early age I participated in church activities. I still remember vividly the first time I organised a local beauty pageant: I was in 6th grade and our church used to put on a show every year. Some sang, others danced. I set up a ‘Miss Junior High’ beauty contest. People loved it. Since then, I’ve caught the bug.

You have already organised two professional pageants, is that right?

Yes, a friend of mine has many international pageant franchises in Myanmar. He organized “Mister Universal Ambassador” in 2015. I bought that franchise the next year and “Mister Universal Ambassador Myanmar 2016” took place last September in Mandalay. The winner went to Indonesia and camefirst in the best national costume category in the international competition. [The winner sported a traditional farmer costume: short longyi and a bamboo helmet]. This year in March, I organised “Mister Global Myanmar 2017” in Yangon. The winner went to Chiang Mai to compete in Mister Global 2017 and he won the Mr Popularity Award [i.e. the model with the most online votes]

How did you get the idea to create Myanmar’s very first international pageant?

After organising “Mister Universal Ambassador Myanmar”, the idea of having my own pageant started. I met the managing director of “Mister Universal Ambassador” and he wasn’t much older than me. If he could do it, why couldn’t I?

I jumped on a plane to Chiang Mai to attend the final competition and what I saw wasn’t much different from what I had done in Myanmar. There I met with Ko Kyaw Kyaw Oo, who is now my business partner.

We met over dinner and decided that the theme of our pageant should be “tourism and culture”, a field which he has much experience.

So, what does a “tourism and culture” pageant look like? In which way is it different from other beauty contests?

This is a way to promote Myanmar tourism. We will host the event and pageant fans from around the world will watch the event from international broadcast media and the social media sites of organisations including “missosology” [a leading website in the pageant industry] and Global Beauties. [The leading online resource for international beauty pageants´ information and analysis]

From the culture side, our pageants will be like a culture exchange program. The national costume contests will be a good way to explain our history and culture. We will explain to contestants the culture of all the places we visit.

Tourism and culture are related. If people are interested in our culture, then they might want to visit our country.

And how will the pageant  work, practically?

We founded our company three months ago. Officially, we have two pageants: one for Miss and one for Mister.

After we got our license, we went to Nay Pyi Taw and explained our pageants to  the Minister for Hotels and Tourism.Minister U Ohn Maung liked the idea. We can promote Myanmar tourism in a way the ministry cannot.

We got his blessing. In order to attract international attention we quickly registered our pageants with “Missosology”.

Lamai Robin posing. Photo - SuppliedLamai Robin posing. Photo - Supplied

Other international pageants have similar names. What will you do differently?

Yes, there is “Mister Tourism World”, “Miss Tourism International” and “Miss & Mister Culture World”. These pageants are related to tourism and culture but they treat the subjects separately. Our pageant, combines culture and tourism, that’s the big difference.

We actually wanted to use “Worldwide” but it’s not a pretty name.. So, we used “Universe” and it became “Miss Tourism and Culture Universe” and “Mister Tourism and Culture Universe”.

And how are you getting started?

We are sending proposals to different sponsors. We have a budget of around K100 million – more might be needed though. The competition will take place in four different places in Myanmar. We are also working on the infrastructure.

What will be your biggest challenge?

Well, the Miss and Mister pageants will be held jointly (for the first year only). We will need to chaperone the competitors and make sure they don’t start love affairs.

Lists of International pageants Myanmar is part of :

For Miss

Miss Universe
Miss World
Miss International
Miss Earth
Miss Global
Miss Globe International
Miss Heritage International
Miss Tourism International
Miss Supranational
Miss Intercontinental
Miss Tourism World
Miss Tourism Universe
Face of Beauty International
Miss Grand International
Miss Culture World
Miss Cosmopolitan World
Mrs Heritage International
Mrs Universe
Miss Asia Pacific World
Miss Asia Pacific International
Miss South East Asia Tourism Ambassadress

For Mister

Manhunt International
Mister Global
Mister International
Mister Universal Ambassador
Mister Grand International
Mister Culture World
Mister Tourism World
Top International Model of The World
Mister Global Teen
Mister Amity International
Mister Model International
Mister United Continents
Man of The Year
Mister Asia

List of the pageants already related to tourism and culture

Miss Tourism International
Miss Tourism World
Miss Tourism Universe
Miss Culture World
Miss South East Asia Tourism Ambassadress
Mister Culture World
Mister Tourism World
Miss & Mister Culture Asia World
Miss Tourism Queen International
Miss Tourism Queen of The Year International
Miss Culture International
Mister Tourism International