|Carat Cheung Ming-nga (center) is the new Miss Hong Kong 2012|
Hackers are suspected of attacking TVB's Miss Hong Kong beauty pageant server on Sunday, thwarting the broadcaster's attempt for online voting in American Idol style.
TVB has set up a team to investigate the alleged cyberattack, which forced a panel of judges to pick the winner.
In an ugly turn, netizens condemned the judges' choice and others complained to the Communications Authority.
Tracy Chu Chin-suet, the public's hot favorite to become Miss Hong Kong, landed second runner-up while Carat Cheung Ming-nga, who was earlier named Miss International Goodwill, was chosen Miss Hong Kong. She will compete for the Miss World title next year.
"I thought it was a 'beauty' pageant," a netizen wrote on an online forum. "Can we ask for a re-election?"
Initial investigations revealed there were millions of page-hits during the pageant, suggesting an attack by hackers, said a spokesman of Microsoft, which provided technical support for TVB for the event.
TVB's deputy director for foreign affairs Tsang Sing-ming apologized for the blunder.
Tsang claimed that the station had expected half a million viewers to vote during the 10-minute slot from 10.45pm to 10.55pm on Sunday, but the traffic exceeded the server's capacity.
TVB general manager Cheong Shin-keong said it will hire an independent consultant to analyze the data before deciding whether to make a report to the police.
Cheong said the excessive number of hits were "deliberately made."
The probe came as the Communications Authority was flooded with more than 447 complaints yesterday about suspicions of misleading the audience and unfair results. An authority spokesman said it will handle the complaints accordingly.
TVB had announced it would give away a Mini Cooper to a randomly selected voter to attract viewers to vote on Sunday, but no one was picked due to the server crashing.
The names of winners should be released as soon as possible after the close of a contest.
"We will announce another contest related to the pageant for the viewers in a couple of days to give away the prize," Tsang said.
"The new contest will be launched within two weeks."
TVB promoted the pageant with the slogan "one person, one vote for Miss Hong Kong."
Despite the public discontent, Carat Cheung is confident she would have won if the online voting had worked.
"I think I would still have won," she said.
Chu was gracious in defeat, saying the judging was fair and she was happy to come in the top three.
SOURCE: The Standard, Hong Kong, 8/28/2012