Former police commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung has lost to Egypt's Minister for Social Solidarity Ghada Fathi Waly in his bid to be the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Some analysts blamed Tsang's failure on Hong Kong's recent political situation, a theory that cannot be absolutely ruled out.
Yet, it is noteworthy that Western countries, led by the United States, were backing Waly even before Hong Kong's social activism turned white hot.
After Tsang was nominated by Beijing as a candidate for the position in this internationally important organization, some friends have asked him about it.
Needless to say, China commands considerable clout in such global bodies, especially as it maintains cordial relations with many developing countries.
However, the appointment of such positions involves a multitude of factors, like the balance of power. Countries are meticulous when naming their candidates.
The United States is, of course, a key player, and Tsang knew all along that Waly was a main rival.
When the UN appoints the heads of its agencies, political correctness is key, and that include racial and gender concerns.
It has been pointed out that all things being equal, Waly still has an edge, as there are fewer women heading UN bodies than men, and selecting her would help improve the gender ratio.
The United States must have undergone careful deliberation before giving the Egyptian candidate its blessing, and Tsang has always been aware of this strong contestant.
When the result of the selection was announced, some analysts immediately made a connection with the recent situation, and we can't say that is entirely groundless.
But Waly and Tsang were the favorites and the race had been neck and neck, with neither having a clear advantage.
As such, the final deciding factor could just be a small one, and Waly could have just won by a nose, so to speak.
Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily