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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sky is the limit for modest Miss Cambodia

Sky is the limit for modest Miss Cambodia

S HY beauty Oung Sopharap may be just too modest to enjoy the spoils of her victory in the Oct 1 Miss Konica Lux Cambodia beauty contest.

The Eighth Grader at Wat Koh High School already has trips lined up to Singapore and Japan but she says she won't go unless her parents chaperone her.

"If I travel alone I will face gossip from everybody saying that I am not behaving properly," said the Phnom Penh belle.

In fact Sopharap is so taken aback by her sudden rise to fame she is now reluctant to leave her home in Daun Penh district for fear of being kidnapped.

But Mike Kimlao managing director of Konica Cambodia, the main sponsor, said that Sopharap would have to bite the bullet and go to Singaopre as she had signed a contract with the company specifying foreign travel before she stepped out on the catwalk. Travelling the world has always been part of the job of being a beauty queen, he said.

Though Sopharap has a free ticket, if she wanted her parents to accompany her, they would have to pay their own way, Mike said.

Sopharap's father is a Commerce Ministry bureaucrat and her mother a housewife. She is the second eldest of four sisters and a brother.

The businessman, who will take Sopharap to Singapore, says she has nothing to fear.

"If I want to do something bad I don't need to spend such big money to choose beauty," he said.

Sopharap and the three Miss Konica Lux Cambodia runners-up have signed up to be models for the main sponsors of the event staged at the Cambodiana.

Naturally enough Sopharap,17, says she was surprised she showed a clean pair of high heels to the field of 157 contestants.

Some of the contestants travelled from the provinces to enter three pageants which culminated in the Oct 1 grand final.

With her winning smile, she told the Post: "I had little hope of winning the contest because every contestant also looked beautiful.

"I didn't enter the contest for the prize, I just wanted to know whether I could be a beuty queen.

"I've long had the idea of entering a beauty contest because I want my name to be well known," said Sopharap, who also won $3,000, a Konica camera and a year's supply of Lux soap.

She said she became more confident about entering the contest after receiving her parents' approval and the support of friends, relatives and neighbors.

As for her ambitions, Sopharap says she will be happy to take office work. Ironically enough, wagging tongues prevent her from following her ideal career as an hostess.

She explained: "It is impossible for me to be an air hostess. I am afraid of gossips who always say air hostesses have a bad reputation because they don't live in the same house all the time."

She's also keen to take part in more beauty pageants though her current contract prevents her from doing so for a year.

The beauty queen disagrees with Phnom Penh gossips who say that girls enter pageants with a view to snaring rich husbands.

She said the man she will choose for "a hundred-year-long friendship" is the one who has a real job, high honor and especially is emotionally honest to her.

But she said there was no one yet on the horizon and added: "I am too young to think about love and marriage."

The final was a glittering affair with Co-Defence Minister Tea Banh among the guests.

One of the seven judges was Princess Norodom Bopharry, daughter of Prince Norodom Chakrapong who is in exile in France after the July 2 coup bid.

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