BANGKOK — A popular contestant for the Miss Universe Thailand was expelled from the race after her manager was discovered to secretly work for the pageant, organizers said Wednesday.
An investigation revealed that Chayathanus “Cheraim” Saradatta knowingly colluded with her manager, Sittichai “Ken” Rewwiroj, who was embedded as a pageant employee and providing her with valuable inside information, organizers said at a news conference.
“During your time in the pageant … you brought your personal manager into your affairs,” Piyaporn Sankosik, executive director of Miss Universe Thailand, read out the verdict. “Therefore, we are disqualifying you from the pageant.”
Piyaporn said that the pageant had to abide by ethical standards enforced worldwide.
“Our goal is to get Thailand’s third crown. I want to end this drama, because I could present all the evidence if I wanted,” Piyaporn said. “We have enough evidence to go to court.”
The dispute between Cheraim and the pageant committee was widely followed by social media, where Cheraim commanded a large following, and viewed by some as a microcosm of transparency issues that seem to dominate many parts of Thai society.
The disqualification came a day after Cheraim insisted that Ken never gave her any inside information, and said he was not even her manager in the first place.
“I swear on my life I never saw the keywords,” Cheraim said, referring to the topics for the question-and-answer section of the preliminary round. “I will not resign on my own since it’s the last thing that’s fair to me.”
But a 79-page chat reportedly between Cheraim and Ken was leaked online Wednesday, showing the pair discussing pageant affairs and sharing information about other contestants.
Piyaporn, the pageant co-organizer, said Monday that her team didn’t want to “fool the public into voting for [Cheraim] and be complicit” in the scheme. Piyaporn said she would give Cheraim a chance to resign from the competition, and would be welcome to participate next year.
Cheraim refused, however, leading to her expulsion by the pageant executives.
Cheraim had been a crowd favorite since the preliminary rounds, when she articulately answered questions with a liberal narrative. She supported legalizing prostitution, the Black Lives Matter movement, and shared a story about she was almost punched in Milan due to racism fueled by the coronavirus.
Cheraim was also open about her slight speech impediment due to an accident.