Lasalle beauty Cheryl Chou triumphs over 14 other finalists to be Miss Universe Singapore 2016

Miss Universe Singapore 2016 Cheryl Chou (centre) with first runner-up Tanisha Khan (left) and second runner-up Sonya Branson. Ms Chou also snagged two other titles: Miss Photogenic and Miss Aspirational.
Miss Universe Singapore 2016 Cheryl Chou (centre) with first runner-up Tanisha Khan (left) and second runner-up Sonya Branson. Ms Chou also snagged two other titles: Miss Photogenic and Miss Aspirational.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

Lasalle College of the Arts student Cheryl Chou, 20, was crowned Miss Universe Singapore 2016 last night at the grand finals of the beauty pageant.

She triumphed over 14 other finalists for the coveted title. Other beauties included Temasek Polytechnic student Tanisha Khan, 18, the first runner-up and youngest contestant. The second runner-up was 25-year-old full-time model Sonya Branson.

Without any hesitation, Ms Chou confidently gave what judge and national director of Miss Universe Singapore Organisation, Ms Nuraliza Osman, deemed the "best answer" among the top five contestants.

During the question and answer segment, all five young women were asked the same question: "What do you believe is the essence of a true Singapore woman?"

Ms Chou spoke of a "woman who is confident in her own skin and... not afraid of failure and to follow her dreams" - just like herself. Her answer drew the loudest applause.

The eloquent fitness junkie, looking dazed after her win, said: "It's a little bit overwhelming as everything is happening so fast but I'm very happy and thankful to those who have supported me throughout this journey." She also snagged two other titles: Miss Photogenic and Miss Aspirational.

Ms Chou will go on to represent Singapore at the international Miss Universe pageant in the Philippines next January.

She walked away with a $10,000 cash prize, $24,000 worth of beauty and wellness services from Beaute Hub, up to $20,000 worth of dental aesthetic services from Orchard Scotts Dental, $9,000 worth of training sessions from Bodyburn Fitness Singapore, and a Canon camera worth $1,000.

This year's pageant is co-organised by The New Paper and Miss Universe Singapore Organisation, and presented by the Singapore Turf Club.

The judging panel of seven included former Singapore top model Junita Simon, The New Paper deputy editor Murali Subramaniam as well as show producer and fashion consultant Daniel Boey.

About 300 guests attended the glitzy black-tie affair held at the grand ballroom of the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, a far cry from the low-key closed-door selection process for last year's edition.

There were performances by Singapore Idol 3 winner Sezairi Sezali and Singaporean jazz flautist Rit Xu.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2016, with the headline 'Lasalle beauty triumphs over 14 other finalists'. Print Edition | Subscribe