What the beauty queen who’s popularly known by her stage name Han Lay did on stage only happens in movies, and as a matter of fact, closely resembled the memorable scene from the nineties blockbuster, Miss Congeniality, starring Sandra Bullock as an undercover cop who poses as a contestant in a beauty pageant, and ends up doing the totally unexpected on stage.
Unfortunately for Han Lay, despite all the cheers and accolades that she received for her bravery and courageous antics, she now finds herself in a predicament that has forced her to completely go under cover so as to escape any legal repercussions or otherwise, that may arise from her actions.
When Thaw Nandar Aung, popularly known as Han Lay, Miss Grand Myanmar, spoke out last week against alleged atrocities committed by her country’s military, her speech turned heads.
“Today in my country Myanmar … there are so many people dying,” she said at the Miss Grand International 2020 event in Thailand. “Please help Myanmar. We need your urgent international help right now.”
Han Lay said she knew before she left for Thailand that she would be potentially putting herself at risk and would need to stay there for a while.
“I am so worried about my family and my security because I spoke out a lot about the military and the situation in Myanmar. In Myanmar everyone knows there are limits on speaking out about what is happening,” she said.
“My friends told me to not come back to Myanmar.”
Her fears are not unfounded. Security forces issued arrest warrants last week for 18 celebrities, social media “influencers” and two journalists under a law against material “intended to cause a member of the armed forces to mutiny or disregard their duty”, state media reported. All of them had spoken out against the coup.
The unrest in Myanmar began two months ago when the military seized control of the country, undoing a democratic election in which Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party won by a landslide.
When tens of thousands of people took to the streets nationwide to protest the coup, the military used water cannon to disperse them. After a week, the response escalated to rubber bullets and then live ammunition.