21 October 2016
Bowie Hau (left) engages in a heated debate with Mok Kam-kwai (right) at the news conference. Photo: HKEJ
Bowie Hau (left) engages in a heated debate with Mok Kam-kwai (right) at the news conference. Photo: HKEJ

Rural representatives at odds over forming new political party

A noisy argument among rural committee leaders took place in front of reporters Wednesday over the formation of a new political party to contest the Legislative Council election in September.

Sheung Shui Rural Committee chairman Bowie Hau Chi-keung recently announced that he would be forming the new party, to be made up of rural representatives.

Hau gatecrashed a news conference that Shatin Rural Committee chairman Mok Kam-kwai had called to express his opposition to Hau’s idea, Apple Daily reported Thursday.

Mok said the Heung Yee Kuk, the rural body that represents indigenous villagers in the New Territories, is a statutory advisory body, so its members should not form political parties.

Hau, who was accompanied by a hundred supporters, including Shap Pat Heung Rural Committee chairman Leung Fuk-yuen, got into a fierce exchange with Mok at the news conference.

Hau complained that rural representatives are usually divided and adhere to different political parties whenever an election draws near, describing them as “rats going back to their own holes”.

Mok said anyone who has the money can easily form a political party but said he is worried that the legality of forming a political party in the name of kuk members would be challenged.

He said that while he is not against the idea of forming a political party as such, he is opposed to doing so in the name of the kuk, expressing concern that the kuk would then lose the support of other parties.

In response, Hau said that lines will be drawn between the new political party and the kuk.

Mok and Hau subsequently shook hands.

Hau said that at a cocktail reception on April 25, he would reveal more details about the formation of the new party.

Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, chairman of the kuk, later issued a statement stressing that the rural advisory body does not have a legal basis to form a political party and that there is simply no room for discussion on the matter.

Lau said it is up to individual kuk members to decide whether to form any political parties on their own.

He said he hoped that all “rural brothers” would stay united.

The report quoted unnamed sources from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) as suggesting that the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong could intervene.

DAB sources said forming a new rural party for the Legco elections would only undermine the prospects for the pro-establishment camp without having a genuine chance to win seats.

Chung Kim-wah, assistant professor in the department of applied social sciences at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said internal conflicts among rural representatives have existed for a long time.

Some of them had been unimpressed with the mild approach taken by former kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat, Kenneth Lau’s father, Chung said.

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