SINGAPORE - It was Ms Elizabeth Houghton's first overseas beauty pageant.
But the Singapore representative's experience at the recent inaugural Miss Grand International, held in Bangkok, didn't end the way she expected.
She was dropped before the finals last Tuesday.
This came as a shock to Ms Houghton, who had earned her spot in the pageant after finishing as first runner-up in Miss World Singapore 2013 in July.
The Eurasian nursing student, 18, alleged that she was dropped from the pageant because she had "talked back" to the organisers.
The organisers, however, have a different story. They say that Ms Houghton was asked to leave because of her smoking habit - something forbidden by the pageant as well as the hotel where the contestants stayed.
Ms Houghton told The New Paper: "(The organisers and the chaperones) were humiliating some of the girls, like Miss Germany and Miss Sweden, and calling them fat.
"So I spoke up for Miss Germany and told the organisers to stop calling her fat because it's not nice.
"They told me to shut up or I would be sent home."
She said she pulled a neck muscle and had to be taken to a hospital in Bangkok for treatment.
After she returned to the hotel the same day, she said that she was told by the organisers that they did not want to "look after" her anymore and she found herself on a flight home soon after.
Ms Janelee Chaparro, who was Miss Puerto Rico, ended up taking the crown.
Ms Houghton said that she is not thinking about joining more pageants and will concentrate on her studies. She hoped her experience could serve as a warning to others.
But according to Ms Teresa Chaivisut, the vice-president of international affairs for Miss Grand International, Ms Houghton was dropped mainly because of her smoking habit.
Ms Teresa told The New Paper in an e-mail message: "(The use of) tobacco is strictly forbidden in the pageant. Ms Houghton was smoking in public. We received this report from one of the hotel's staff members. The hotel (that the girls were staying in) sent us a warning letter as Ms Houghton's room smelt of smoke."
Ms Teresa said the hotel had a strict no-smoking rule that Ms Houghton violated.
She also said that the beauty-queen hopeful did not fulfil her pageant responsibilities. Said Ms Teresa: "She complained often that she did not feel well. (As a result), she did not join most of our activities, (like an excursion to a temple and a dinner event)."
When contacted, Ms Houghton claimed that she had spoken to the management staff at the hotel to check where she could smoke.
She said: "I asked the hotel management and they said that guests can smoke in their balconies."
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