THAILAND - Bowing to pressure, Weluree Ditsayabut yesterday tearfully relinquished her Miss Universe Thailand crown.
"I give up this title," the young beauty queen said at a press conference.
Appearing before media without a crown and a sash, Weluree said she had taken the move to end huge pressure that had taken a toll on both her and her mother's happiness.
"I understand that a public figure is subject to public scrutiny. But I couldn't take it when those comments gave my mother sleepless nights. When she is unhappy, I can't be happy either," she said, as tears ran down her face.
Not long after claiming the Miss Universe Thailand 2014 title last month, Weluree came under a barrage of severe criticism. She was criticised for having a less-than-perfect figure and for many things she had posted previously on social media. They included rude words and harsh remarks about red shirts.
When the social-media storm against her started, Weluree tried at first to ask for understanding and an opportunity. She promised to improve herself and insisted that she was not affiliated with any political group.
Asked why she had opted to toss it in, Weluree said yesterday: "I am worried about my mother. At first, I wanted to keep going. But any struggle isn't worth if that makes my mother unhappy."
Weluree also denied speculation that the organiser of the Miss Universe Thailand 2014 event pressured her to step down.
"The organiser only advised me to make a careful decision," she said.
Weluree said she hoped all youths would learn a lesson from her case.
"An act out of ignorance can come back to haunt us," she warned.
Pranom Thavornvej, manager of the Miss Universe Thailand pageant, said the organiser would conduct more extensive background checks on applicants, including their posts on social media, next year.
With Weluree giving up her crown, first-runner up Pimbongkod Chankaew will assume Weluree's duties from |now on.
"I wish to express my moral support to her," Weluree said, adding that she would talk with the pageant organiser on what needs to be done about prizes worth about Bt4 million that she won in the event.