Miss Earth Singapore hit by vote-buying controversy

Newly crowned Miss Earth Singapore 2013, Miss Vanessa Hee, has been accused by a netizen of tampering with votes.

Miss Hee, who won on Sunday, was targeted by a Dex Hoe, who saw a posting on job website Freelancer. com.au.

It offered to pay for Facebook likes for Miss Hee in the Miss Popularity sub-category, the only title decided by online votes.

In an e-mail to The New Paper, Mr Hoe said: "One of the Miss Earth contestant's boyfriend posted a request online to get people to tamper with the voting and apparently votes can be quite cheap."

The post states: "I need to help my girlfriend win a contest.

"She will win if her picture has the most likes...I want someone by hook or by crook (to) generate 2,200 likes."

The budget for the project was US$250 to $750 (about S$320 to S$950).

When The New Paper contacted the person behind the post, Mr Lim, he said it was because a friend had misunderstood the situation and tried to help him out, but that the project was cancelled without any votes being bought.

He said: "I actually made a bet with Vanessa and I bet that she will win Miss Earth Singapore.

"The only thing I could influence is the popularity contest, so I went around asking all of my friends to like the photo."

He said his friend took things into his own hands and posted the advertisement online in his name.

Mr Lim said: "I was quite upset because it'll reflect badly on Vanessa."

"My friend has good intentions, but it wasn't a very nice thing to do. He had wanted to help me get credit for helping Vanessa win, but if anything, it might have caused a bigger rift."

Miss Hee, who also won Best in Swimsuit, only had over 5,000 votes, compared to Ms Susanna To, who won Miss Popularity with more than 23,000 votes.

Miss Hee said she did not know about the incident until 2am yesterday morning.

She said she has nothing to do with the posting and that she does not condone it.

Ms Cheryl Hansen of C. T. Hansel International, which organises the Miss Earth Singapore competition, said that the results are based on both performance of contestants and the votes.

"When it comes to popularity contests on Facebook, it is beyond our control. It's up to contestants whether they want to ask their friends to like the photos for free or market themselves and pay for likes.

"We don't have any rules against this so Miss Hee has not broken any rules with the posting."