Francisca Luhong James, 25, from Sarawak was crowned Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 after beating 17 other contestants at a closed-door event in Kuala Lumpur streamed live on the Miss Universe Malaysia website on Saturday.
The Kayan-Kenyah-Iban native of Kuching also won the Best In Evening Gown and Miss Auto Bavaria Elegance subsidiary titles. Graduating with a degree in Mass Communications in 2019, Francisca works as a Public Relations and Marketing Executive, and is also a part-time model.
Being the eldest child and only girl with two younger brothers, she is used to leading by example, and this has resulted in her being tougher, more independent and a natural role model. She enjoys choreographing her own dance moves, running and reading in her free time.
The first runner-up was Charissa Chong Su Huey, 26, from Selangor, while Serene Chai Yong Bin, 26, from Johor was named second runner-up. Neha Varma, 22 from Kuala Lumpur was named third runner-up.
Francisca who received the stunning ‘Reflection’ crown by HABIB featuring a 10-carat diamond set in white gold worth MYR2.38 million from the previous winner, Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 Shweta Sekhon, also took home cash and sponsored prizes with a combined value of MYR180,000 as well as a full education scholarship from HELP University.
She will represent Malaysia in 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.
The other 12 subsidiary title winners are; Miss Congeniality: Celine Foo, 26; Miss Online Personality: Neha Varma, 22; Best In Evening Gown: Francisca Luhong James, 25; Miss Body Beautiful: Louisa Ananthan, 22; Miss HABIB: Neha Varma, 22; Miss La Jung Youthful Forever: Serene Chai Yong Bin, 26; Miss Dermalogica Healthy Skin: Pritha Manivannan, 27; Miss Glojas Glowing Beauty: Pritha Manivannan, 27; Shawn Cutler Hair Award: Rindsay Rachelle Laige, 22; Miss Auto Bavaria Elegance: Francisca Luhong James, 25; Miss Body Confidence: Charissa Chong Su Huey, 26; and Skinz Sanctuary Flawless Skin: Serene Chai Yong Bin, 26.
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. Tickets to the e-Gala live stream were sold to members of the public, and 20 per cent of proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to Lighthouse Children Welfare Home Association Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.
As a new feature to this year’s competition, viewers got to vote for their favourite finalist in three categories, namely Miss Body Beautiful, Best in Evening Gown, and the winner of Miss Universe Malaysia 2020 during the live show.