Miss Malaysia-India worked her way up


Kuala Lumpur : Coming from a financially weak background, Fiona Zuzartee, this year’s winner of Miss Malaysia-India Pageant, worked in radio contests to earn pocket money.

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Her Portuguese father, a charity logistics manager, and her Indian mother, an IT project manager, did not give her an allowance until she was in secondary school. This led Fiona to value money at an early age.

“I used to earn money from radio contests. The RM100 ($45) or RM200 ($90) I won, I would stretch it for a month,” she said.

Her real passion to be an airline pilot was derailed because of her family’s weak financial status.

The lack of chance to pursue her dream has spurred Fiona to organise a charity event for raising funds and helping the secondary school students to pursue their tertiary education. The event will be part of her year-long obligation – that is to be involved in a large-scale community project – as a pageant winner.

Not surprisingly, Fiona has her feet on the ground despite the pageant win.

The 1.6m beauty, winner of Saturday’s 2008 Miss Malaysia-Indian Global pageant, came across as an ambitious and articulate but a humble person.

The 20-year-old woman was also buzzing with confidence and professional patience.

“But I have still got stage fright. I knew I was rambling during the question-and-answer session as I was not used to it yet,” she told The Star newspaper Monday.

A shy but amicable person unless she was with small groups of friends, Fiona’s ambition was to open a fusion restaurant business in five years, something she learned to do while working as a supervisor at the Starbucks outlet at Assunta Hospital here.

The pageant was the ninth organised by the Miss Malaysia India Care Association, a non-profit body.

Pageant organiser T. Pushparani said the event was not just about the contestants’ beauty but also to help develop their personal and mental attributes.