Beauty pageant organiser ATV sets up investigation into counting of votes An independent committee will be set up to investigate the outcome of this year's Miss Asia Pageant after it was discovered that the final outcome did not tally with public voting. The controversy broke yesterday after an announcement to news media by Linus Cheung Wing-lam, executive chairman of pageant organiser ATV. The Miss Asia Pageant, which was celebrating its 20th anniversary, was held on December 7. Instead of a panel of judges this year, organisers allowed the public to cast votes by text messages via the internet or by mobile phone. The winner was student Eunis Yao, 23, who secured 137,610 votes; runner-up was student Belinda Yan, 22, on 129,416; and third was Lene Lai, 19, a model from Taiwan on 60,542 votes. Yesterday, however, Mr Cheung revealed that the result of the voting was actually different from the final outcome. 'This is an unacceptable issue of trust,' said Mr Cheung, who joined ATV only a few days before the beauty pageant took place. 'The number of votes [for contestants] shown on TV on December 7 was wrong.' He said he apologised to the public, the staff involved in the show and legislative councillor Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, who was invited to monitor the voting on the night. It was understood that Mr Cheung phoned Mr Fok yesterday morning to explain the situation. Mr Fok could not be reached for comment. Mr Cheung said that the discrepancy was discovered when a Miss Asia Pageant evaluation meeting was held last Wednesday, during which Ricky Wong Wai-kay, who resigned from his position as chief executive officer of the TV station yesterday, said he had discovered that there was a possibility that there was a discrepancy between voting and the final outcome. Mr Wong then received all the voting information from staff last Friday and immediately reported the information to Mr Cheung. Mr Cheung said that ATV, conscious of a need to to maintain its corporate image of trustworthiness, had decided it was necessary to reveal the discrepancy and carry out an investigation. Asked if the winners would change, Mr Cheung did not answer directly. He also did not comment on whether bribery or corruption had been involved. Mr Cheung also did not address whether Mr Wong had made comments to one of the contestants. It has been reported that Mr Wong asked one of the contestants if she had had a breast augmentation. Comedy filmmaker Vincent Kuk Tak-chiu, one of the beauty contest hosts, said he was shocked to hear about the voting problems and had no idea about what had gone wrong. 'As show hosts we only carried out the organisers' instructions. Even Mr Fok was only reading out the voting results on a piece of paper given by organisers,' Mr Kuk said. 'I did not see anything unusual happening on the night and we thought the results were acceptable because the quality of the winners was high.' He said that he didn't think the incident would hurt the pageant's reputation. 'I thought it was a great show and let's hope that this incident will make things better next year,' he said, but added that the new voting system might have been a problem. A committee has been set up to investigate the issue. It will comprise former secretary for information technology and broadcasting Kwong Ki-chi, chairman; Andrew Chan Chi-fai, a former committee member of the Consumer Council and a committee member of the Electoral Affairs Commission; and Johnson Cha, director of ATV. The committee will question staff members involved in the organisation of the event and make recommendations to organisers. It is expected to complete its investigation in two months.