Being chosen as one of the five judges for the Miss Asia Pageant finals tomorrow night must be one of the high points of my journalistic career to date. What does one look for? What criteria do you employ? And most important, does one judge solely on the basis of physical beauty or do brains, personality and charisma come into the equation? According to H. Y. Kwong, the pageant's project director, who is also a senior vice-president of ATV, there are few directives given to judges. 'We want an independent view and thus we do not limit judging to a formula or set criteria,' he said. The only instructions we judges have are on the method of scoring and the weightings and percentages given to different segments of the contest. The judges are selected from various professions and, apart from myself, they include an eye surgeon, Dr John Chang, banker and socialite Kathy Chiu, image consultant Ellen Liu, and former Miss Hong Kong contestant May Ng. Apparently this year's response has been the most successful in the pageant's 14-year history, breaking all records with more than 5,000 applications. These figures were later whittled down in three rounds of screening to 12 contestants in the semi-finals then nine for the finals. This year, Kwong says they have relaxed the rules and set the lower age limit to 15 and the upper to 30 years of age. The contestants, of course, are not limited to Hong Kong and the region. ATV scouts are sent out each April to America, Canada and Britain to recruit potential contestants. The popular pageant has launched the careers of stars such as Nina Li Chi, Candy Lo, Kristy Yeung Kung-yue and Veronica Yip. The winner will receive more than $2 million worth of prizes, including a house and apartment in China, a car and jewellery. The pageant, to be held in the Academy for Performing Arts, will also be televised live on ATV Home channel at 7.15pm.