Ever since Kenneth Lau Ip-keung succeeded his late father Lau Wong-fat, or ‘Uncle Fat’, as chairman of the Heung Yee Kuk, a statutory advisory body to the government on New Territories affairs, the indigenous clans in the New Territories have been keeping a relatively low profile.
And the current administration led by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has also remained by and large on relatively good terms with the indigenous clans in the N.T. since Lam took office last year. The government started going easy on the clans.
One might still remember that back in 2011 when Lam was serving as Secretary for Development, she commented that the New Territories Small House Policy cannot exist permanently, and also indicated her tough stance on unauthorized building works found in village houses across the New Territories.
In the meantime, in order to further engage the clans and the Kuk over land supply policies, last year Lam appointed Cheung Hok-ming, the Kuk’s incumbent vice-chairman, to the Task Force on Land Supply.
And before the Task Force officially launched its latest public consultation paper on the future of land use at the end of April, its chairman and vice-chairman, Stanley Wong Yuen-fai and Dr. Greg Wong Chak-yan, tested the water with leading Kuk members to seek their views over the government proposal of tapping into the village land, known as V Zone, and brownfield sites across the New Territories.
According to Kuk sources, even though the rural council is in favor of multi-storey small houses, there isn’t much opposition to developing brownfield sites and V Zone among them, as long as the government talks to owners of these land lots.
As far as Kuk chairman Kenneth Lau is concerned, some indigenous clans anticipate his re-election for another term next year is almost a foregone conclusion.
However, when it comes to the two vice-chairmen, Cheung and Daniel Lam Wai-keung, there are uncertainties hanging over their re-election.
The issue of their retirement has remained unsettled so far, as it is said that Cheung is unwilling to give up his ‘say’ in Kuk affairs.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on May 8
Translation by Alan Lee
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