A Beautiful Mind

Rajan Chettiar comes up close and personal with Miss Singapore-Universe, and one of our own at that, for Nuraliza Osman is both a practising lawyer as well as a beauty queen. He discovers that contrary to beauty being only skin deep, in this case, it runs very deep indeed.

I do not recall so persistently chasing a girl for a lunch date as I did this girl that I was walking towards at Empress Place one sweltering Monday afternoon. She was tall, slim, with long hair and was dressed in a lovely black dress.

To my friends who were both envious and curious when they learnt of the identity of my ‘date’, I can say that my lunch date, Nuraliza Osman, also known as Miss Singapore-Universe 2002, looked simple and relaxed, wore very little make-up and showed not a trace of stress, which I found refreshingly beautiful.

‘I am happy to be involved in charity work during my current Miss Singapore-Universe reign. I am involved in the work of the Rainbow Foundation, the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Youth Challenge. We lawyers should do charity work.’ Describing her happiness working with children, Nura, as she is known, does not have fixed duties during the period of her reign.

Nura is a civil litigator at Rajah and Tann. When I expressed surprise that she did not take a one-year break from legal practice during her reign, Nura said, ‘I enjoy being a lawyer doing different types of cases every day. Civil litigation is exciting and challenging’. Furthermore, she counts herself lucky to have endless support and motivation from the partners at the firm.

‘I have always wanted to participate in the Miss Singapore-Universe Pageant.

I applied to be a contestant this year with the encouragement of my mother, who was a former beauty pageant winner.’ To Nura, the most difficult part was the decision-making process leading to her application to participate in the pageant. Thereafter, the rest of the period leading to the finals was enjoyable, with lots of hard work spent on rehearsals at night after finishing her work in the office. ‘Like any other contestant, I wanted to win the glamorous title. No, I cannot recount what went through my mind when the result was announced. I was so overjoyed. What made me even happier was seeing my reserved father smiling throughout the night of my victory.’

Nura spent one month in Puerto Rico to participate in the international Miss Universe Pageant. Rooming with Miss China, Nura had a splendid time in Puerto Rico participating in charity functions and other events every night and having many sharing sessions with her fellow contestants. ‘Not having a common language to speak with some of the contestants was not a problem at all. Sometimes, you do not need to communicate with words only’, said Nura who speaks English, Malay, French, German, a smattering of Mandarin and is now learning Spanish.

As Miss Singapore-Universe, Nura has been thrown into the unforgiving world of the mass media without any preparation. Acknowledging the power of the media, she gives press interviews only after careful deliberation of the ramifications of her answers.

I was startled and stopped slurping on my Vietnamese noodle soup when Nura said that her goal in life is to be happy. ‘Happiness? What about the tangible dreams that every typical young Singaporean has?’ She smiled and continued eating her chicken noodles slowly. It was at that point that I started to look at Nura in a different light. For a young lady who has entered a glamorous world that opens its doors to beauties, models, the media, the rich and the famous, Nura is a simple, different, down-to-earth Singaporean woman who believes that the role of a Singaporean woman is the same as that of her male counterpart.

‘Finding happiness has become a difficult pursuit in Singapore. Everyone should do what their heart desires without worrying about man-made restrictions. I just want to be happy doing the things that I enjoy. Currently, these include working in volunteer programmes that provide services to children, writing a script for a children’s television programme, writing about my experiences in Puerto Rico, the list goes on.’ Her self-description is that of a practical, open person who takes calculated risks. Everyone who watched the televised finals of the Miss Singapore-Universe pageant would know what, to her, is a beautiful mind. Yes, she has a beautiful mind and in my mind, I was wondering why lunch must come to an end.

Rajan Chettiar
Allen & Gledhill