Jewelry queen pageant mired in scandal again

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The Vietnam Jewelry Queen contest has been rocked by scandal again after one of its contestants said they were forced to serve wine to unknown men.

Tran Thi Hoa said that before the final round on December 30, the organizers sent them to a party at the Cobe Restaurant in District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.

"They forced us to meet unknown men, one by one, saying: "˜Nice to meet you. Please drink with me," Hoa said.

Some of the contestants had fainted during the party due to fatigue from previous training sessions after which they were not allowed to rest. But the organizers tried many ways to revive them so they continue serving wine, Hoa said.

She also said that some of the men were her acquaintances who said that they had paid US$200 to attend the party.

Hoa said the agreements contestants had signed prior to the contest did not mention such a party, the The Thao & Van Hoa (Sport & Culture) reported.

However, Minh Thuy, representative of the organizers the Gold Fashion magazine, told the newspaper that the party was part of the biennial contest, which was licensed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Culture.

An unnamed contestant had claimed in another newspaper right before the final round that the organizers had been bribed to choose winners. This was an accusation that the contest had faced in 2007 as well, the newspaper said.

In response to the latest allegations, Vuong Duy Bien, head of the ministry's Department of Performing Arts, and also member of the contest's steering committee, said he has ordered the organizers to prepare a report on the case.

Bien said the department will have an official response to the allegations this week at the earliest, the newspaper reported.

The fifth edition of the contest wrapped up in HCMC with Tran Thi Thanh Truc, 19, crowned the winner, defeating 18 other finalists.

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