In Hong Kong, We Can’t Even Elect A Beauty Queen

The Promise: One Beauty Queen, One Vote

Hong Kong suffered another ignominy last night in its pursuit of universal suffrage. Never has this former colony been allowed the right to choose its leaders. Odd attempts at democracy still have pockets of semi-elected and outright appointed making the final decisions. Our new Chief Executive was appointed by Beijing, even if there was a pretense of some voting.

So last night was to be a watershed moment. Each and every person in Hong Kong was allowed to vote for the first time in history. Miss Hong Kong was down to three finalists and the city had to decide.

The first free vote in the history of Hong Kong was open – to elect a beauty queen

One of the comments on Twitter

That’s when it all went horribly wrong.

According to TVB Pearl, the on-line voting system was attacked by hackers. Amazing they were able to determine the cause in the waning hours between the late nigh broadcast and the midnight deadline for today’s paper. Odder yet that The South China Morning Post ran that excuse as a headline.

In a city of 7 million people the Miss Hong Kong pageant had 14 million attempts to vote.

Anyone who has tried to dial in to American Idol immediately after the show knows that its next to impossible to get a free line. In the years since that show was launched they’ve introduced text voting and on-line options along with dial-in.

Most likely TVB Pearl failed to prepare adequate server access for a momentary deluge. While their website could handle the normal traffic associated with a normal day, they were probably unprepared for a sudden spike of millions of access attempts in a few moments. This led to a “denial of service” problem.

Denial of Service” is a common hacking tool where servers are flooded with hundreds of thousands of requests all at the same time. Usually pirated PCs are called into service to all ‘ping’ a site at the same time. Banks, government agencies and corporations have all been hit by ‘denial of service’ attacks.

What TVB Pearl experienced last night was a self-inflicted denial of service attack by ordinary Hong Kong residents. In a city of 7 million people the station had 14 million attempts to vote.  The Miss Hong Kong pageant was heavily promoted. TVB Pearl even said it was the first time everyone in Hong Kong would be able to vote. Then last night the system crashed under the demand.

TVB Pearl failed the people of Hong Kong. It promoted a free and open vote but didn’t make the necessary investment in computer support. The advertised first attempt at universal suffrage backfired – and left Hong Kong people angry and dissolute. We’re forced by TVB Pearl to face the bleak reality. In Hong Kong there is no universal suffrage. We can’t vote. In Hong Kong, we can’t even elect a beauty queen.

Miss Hong Kong 2012 – Carat Cheung


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