Leaders of rural councils in New Territories said they believe any threats received by newly-elected lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick were due to personal reasons, and that it is unlikely that village elders were behind the reported incidents.
Kenneth Lau, chairman of Heung Yee Kuk, the most powerful rural council in New Territories, said on Monday that the alleged death threats against Chu represent an isolated case.
He said he doesn’t believe that any rural leader will resorts to threats of physical violence against those who have different opinions on land-related issues.
Leung Fuk-yuen, chairman of the Shap Pat Heung rural committee, which oversees about 30 villages in Yuen Long district, said in a radio interview that Chu’s accusation of collusion between government officials, rural forces and triads in relation to land rights was totally groundless.
All parties involved in rural affairs cooperate with each other, he said, adding that charges of collusion are unfair.
Leung lashed out at Chu, saying that the newly-elected lawmaker was creating “white terror” by making various allegations.
If Chu faced some problems, why did he not bring up the issues during his election campaign, Leung said, pointing out that Chu was making the allegations only after the election.
Refuting Leung’s criticism, Chu said the so-called cooperation between government officials and rural forces was most often conducted under the table, going against the public’s expectation of an open and fair planning system.
Chu, who won a spectacular victory in the New Territories West constituency in the Legco election, has said that there were death threats against him and his family, forcing him to seek police protection.
The social activist suggested that the threats came as he had taken on powerful vested interests in the New Territories, particularly in relation to a public housing project in Wang Chau.
Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau and his deputy Daniel Lam Wai-keung, along with chairmen of several rural councils, met with Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po on Monday.
Lau claimed that the meeting was a regular one and the first since last October.
The discussions centered on the government’s “small house policy” and issues related to unauthorized building works, he said, adding that the Wang Chau project and Chu’s personal safety were not on the agenda.
Lau told reporters after the meeting that what happened to Chu may be an individual case and that he won’t comment further as police investigations are under way.
He said he hopes the matter will be cleared as soon as possible.
When asked if Chu can still live in New Territories safely, Lau said there is no reason for anyone not to feel safe in the area.
Development Secretary Chan and Secretary for Housing and Transport Anthony Cheung Bing-leung are expected to meet with Chu and Edward Yiu Chung-yim, another newly-elected lawmaker, on Thursday to talk about the Wang Chau project.
Chu had earlier raised questions as to why authorities dramatically scaled back plans to build public housing in Wang Chau.
The project, which was launched in 2012, saw only 4,000 public homes built instead of the originally proposed 17,000 units. Chu suspects it was done at the behest of some rural landlords.
In other news related to Chu, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told reporters on Monday that the United States government has no right to interfere in matters related to Hong Kong’s Legco election.
The election is an internal affair of China, the spokesman said, after Washington expressed concern about the reported threats received by Chu.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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