Although she did not succeed in her efforts to bring the Miss Universe crown home to Malaysia, Dayak beauty Francisca Luhong James is elated to have been able to represent Malaysia on the international stage.

In an Instagram post shared by the beauty queen on Instagram on 18 May, Francisca expressed, “Humbly grateful to the Almighty for His blessings, and have all of my amazing supporters with me throughout this whole journey, I am nothing without you and I don’t know how to repay each one of you back. You guys are amazing.”

“I have done my best for my beloved Malaysia and though I wish it could’ve been different, I know for sure everyone have their own destiny in life. I’m not gonna lie, I do feel affected by it at some point, but I had fun and built good friendship,” she added.

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Francisca in her evening gown
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The beauty queen became best pals with Miss Vietnam during the competition

Francisca also expressed her happiness for her fellow contestant and new best friend Nguyễn Trần Khánh Vân from Vietnam, who got into top 21, and praised the Vietnam team for a job well done.

“Our country is nothing less if you ask me personally, it is just what it is and we have to accept it with dignity,” she added.

It is noted that Miss Vietnam defended Francisca when the latter was mocked for her national costume, which had malfunctioned during the competition. Her costume was a traditional kampung house, complete with replica chickens and coconut trees. It weighed 45 kilos and required the assistance of three pageant crew members to be brought to the centre stage.

Francisca also congratulated the new Miss Universe Andrea Meza from Mexico, writing, “Congratulations on winning the crown, you deserve it and you are one of the nicest and humble lady I get to know in Miss Universe. I wish you all success.”

“We may not achieve what we long for, but we had a great journey and I have done my absolute best in every segments. My spirit will never break and this is a journey that taught me a lot. Thank you for such an experience [Miss Universe], it is a journey that I will forever cherish. God bless everyone who’ve been in this process with me. I may need to take some time to reply and some time to recharge, but I’m reading and I appreciate all your love and efforts from the bottom of my heart. I love you always.”

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Andrea Meza of Mexico won this year’s pageant