YANGON, Myanmar (AP) -- Myanmar is sending its first contestant in half a century to the Miss Universe pageant, in another sign that the once-isolated Southeast Asian nation is undergoing dramatic change.
Moe Set Wine, 25, who studied business and marketing in the U.S., was picked among 20 other contenders Thursday night to represent her country at the 62nd Miss Universe pageant in Moscow on Nov. 9.
Myanmar sent its first representative to the pageant in 1959, but stopped in 1962 under the rule of late dictator Gen. Ne Win, who imposed a socialist government on an already conservative Buddhist society. Ne Win, who stepped down in 1988 during an abortive pro-democracy uprising and died in 2002, was himself a notorious womanizer
Thursday night's event, held in Yangon's National Theatre, was broadcast live by a private satellite TV operator. Private participation in mass media is one of the reforms instituted by the elected government that took power in 2011 after almost five decades of repressive military rule.
Myanmar came under strict army rule after a 1962 military coup, but when retired general Thein Sein became president in 2011, his government initiated a series of political and economic reforms.