HONG KONG • Actress Juliette Louie was crowned Miss Hong Kong on Sunday night, as netizens raised a furore over how TVB host Carol Cheng cast two deciding votes for the winner.
Under new rules implemented this year, 10 celebrity judges, including Cheng, actors Michael Miu, Jessica Hsuan and Vincent Wong, as well as Cantopop trio Grasshopper voted on the spot to decide the results, said Ming Pao Daily News.
In the last round, a popular contestant, financial services consultant Regina Ho, 23, was in the lead with four votes. Louie, 23, had three votes before Cheng, the highest-ranking judge, gave her one vote to even out the competition and a second one to break the tie.
Cheng said she felt Louie's overall performance was better, but netizens cried foul, criticising the contest as a "one-person election", Ming Pao reported. They also complained about the winner's appearance and poor command of Chinese.
Louie, who was educated in France and Britain, had returned from Canada to take part in the pageant. On Sunday, she did poorly in the question-and-answer portion when she was asked how she would approach television host Nat Chan, one of the night's judges, if he turned out to be her long-lost father.
She also revealed that her Chinese name on her Hong Kong identity card was unpronounceable as she did not realise the wrong character had been keyed in.
Cheng said she faced a lot of pressure as the judge who had to cast the deciding vote. Explaining her support for Louie, she said the contestant showed confidence from the singing contest to the swimsuit portion of the pageant.
Louie has drawn attention for her figure and also because her father is award-winning graphic designer Henry Louie, who nominated her for the contest, said Ming Pao.
Actresses including Michele Reis, Monica Chan and Anita Yuen have come to prominence as Miss Hong Kong winners. But one of Hong Kong cinema's biggest stars, Maggie Cheung, was only a runner-up in the 1983 contest.
This year, the second runner-up was buyer Emily Wong, 23. Another hot favourite, human resources clerk Kelly Ng, 24, was left out in the cold.