Mon, Dec 29, 2003 - Page 4 News List

Troubled times for Miss Taiwan

BEAUTY QUEENS This year's Miss Taiwan was stripped of her title due to a run-in with money lenders and now her replacement is accused of having worked as a `bar girl'

STAFF WRITER

Kao Ching-hui, center, who was chosen as Miss Taiwan when another woman was stripped of the title, poses for the cameras along with four runners-up at a ceremony yesterday. Now Kao is in trouble of her own.

PHOTO: KE YU-HAO, TAIPEI TIMES

The Miss Taiwan title has been tarnished by two scandals in the past month. First, Liu An-na (劉安納), the winner of this year's Miss Taiwan contest, was stripped of her title after she went into hiding with her mother to avoid debt collectors. Now Kao Ching-hui (高菁徽), the woman who replaced Liu as Miss Taiwan, has been alleged to have worked as a "bar girl."

The first in the series of events that led to Liu's being stripped of her title occurred last month when debt collectors went to a jewelry shop owned by Liu and her mother, Yu Kuang (余況), to collect NT$40 million allegedly owed by the two.

Liu and Yu were not at the shop at the time, and the debt collectors left red notes in front of the shop, a common practice in Taiwan when people who owe money cannot be found. They also left notes saying that Liu had won her title by bribing the beauty contest's judges.

On Dec. 14, Liu telephoned the Beauty Development Association, which runs the Miss Taiwan contest, saying that she was safe.

The association asked Liu to either hold a press conference to clear the matter up or sign an affidavit giving up her title. Liu refused.

The association announced on Dec. 22 that it had decided to strip Liu of her title because her personal affairs had had a negative impact on the association's reputation. The association also announced that it would crown Kao, who had won second place in the Miss Taiwan contest, as the new Miss Taiwan.

Liu faxed a statement to the association on Dec. 23 to insist on her innocence and to say that she was in Europe.

"I knew nothing of my mother's financial situation," Liu wrote. "She tried her best to provide me with a good and carefree life, and I didn't know that her business had failed."

Liu also denied the rumor that she had bought off the judges.

But stripping Liu of her title was not the end of the trouble for the association: Kao, who was crowned yesterday as Liu's replacement, is facing accusations that she worked as a bar girl a few years ago.

On Dec. 25, a Chinese-language newspaper wrote that Kao had once worked as a bar girl in a bar run by her sister.

Kao said in response, "I did not drink with the patrons, and I only worked as an accountant. Plus, this is my sister we're talking about, and she wouldn't have let me work as a bar girl."

The Chinese-language newspaper reported yesterday that Chang Tso-wu (張佐伍), Kao's sister's ex-boyfriend, had said that Kao did in fact work as a bar girl and used to drink with the bar's patrons.

"Three years ago my ex-girlfriend opened a bar," Chang is quoted as saying. "Kao Ching-hui cannot drink much but she is pretty and gentle, and the patrons liked her. She was the star of the bar."

Kao said in response that Chang had made false statements about her because his marriage proposal to her sister had been rejected.

Despite the controversy concerning Kao, her crowning ceremony was held as scheduled yesterday.

The association said that it believed in its beauty queens.

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