It was an unfair race — Louisa Mak Ming-sze (麥明詩) won it right from the start.
The Cambridge University law graduate with straight As in the school certificate exam could have triumphed in the Miss Hong Kong pageant on her brains alone in an elitist city that is infatuated with brands.
But her dancing prowess and angelic smile also contributed to her winning the trophy and Miss Photogenic, an award usually designated for popular underperformers.
Television Broadcasts Ltd., the pageant’s organizer, tried to make it a two-horse race, playing up the “sibling” rivalry between Mak and her Diocesan Girl’s School classmate Ada Pong Cheuk-yan (龐卓欣).
Pong did eventually make it to first runner-up, although Mak secured a convincing 160,000 votes from a total of 230,000 voters.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying must feel lucky that the universal suffrage proposal was shot down earlier.
Otherwise, how could he have even hoped to win re-election if such a popular and competitive young Hongkonger were to stand against him?
Well, at least the city now has something to cheer about on the anniversary of last year’s notorious Aug. 31 decision, in which the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress laid down the law on the procedures for electing the chief executive in 2017.
The candidate with brains and beauty won the popular vote in the pageant, bringing hope to Hongkongers who have long despaired of seeing the right people put in the right places.
On Sunday night, Mak, 23, said she aspired to be a lady with the four traditional characteristics — well-mannered, kind-hearted, self-cultivated and virtuous – disclosing no business or political ambitions.
Nevertheless, that came from a young woman who, five years ago, after scoring straight As in her Hong Kong Certificate of Education exam, said she wanted to be an influential person like the chief executive or secretary for justice.
So, was it the Cambridge education or what Leung has had to undergo that scared her off?
One thing for certain, though, is that she has learned to be more diplomatic.
Mak, who as a schoolgirl held up pan-democratic former lawmakers Audrey Eu Yuet-mee and Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee as her idols, declined to answer reporters’ questions on whether she supported political reform.
She merely said she supported democracy, a safe answer that Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong chairwoman Starry Lee Wai-king might have given.
Perhaps someone at Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong should give Mak a call to congratulate her for a job well done and cancel the next appointment with Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing.
In the next 12 months, Mak will become an ambassador for the pageant in Hong Kong and take part in the Miss Universe contest.
With her credentials, she can storm any offices in Central and win any election in the city – including for Legislative Council next year – if she wishes.
She is now on top of Hong Kong and can choose to do anything she wants.
Whatever Mak chooses, she is writing a new chapter of her own and giving a new definition to Miss Hong Kong, which used to be a goal for non-university graduates to aspire to in the hope of landing the ultimate prize — a husband from a rich family.
That said, we hope she will pick a boyfriend who will not embarrass her.
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