Monday, 10 October 2016

Cracks in Heung Yee Kuk?

Heung Yee Kuk chairman Kenneth Lau will be sworn in as a lawmaker...
Are we seeing weakness in the notorious rural force known as Heung Yee Kuk?

Its chairman, Kenneth Lau Ip-leung was elected uncontested last month in the Legislative Council elections, and he will take the oath of office on Wednesday.

It was suggested in their internal meeting that 10,000 rural villagers show up to Legco to demonstrate their support for Lau, but now that has drastically been scaled back to a few hundred at most.

While Li Yiu-ban, a kuk ex-officio executive councillor who is helping to organize the rally, says it's better to have less people at Tamar because it "may cause inconvenience to others", others say Lau isn't taking a strong enough stance on rural issues like his father, Lau Wong-fat, who stepped down for health reasons after running the kuk for 35 years.

... and so will Eddie Chu (left) who exposed the kuk's violations
The rally was also meant to protest against incoming legislator Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, who has single handedly exposed kuk members bullying the Hong Kong government in the Wang Chau development in Yuen Long.

The Wang Chau site is a brownfield site the government had wanted to take back to build some 17,000 flats, but some kuk members are using it -- and profiting from it -- and refuse to hand it back, forcing the authorities to retreat and instead develop a green-belt area nearby and evict residents of three villages.

This whole fiasco has made the kuk realize they need to revamp their image and plan to hire a public relations firm to help them.

While the Basic Law protects the traditional rights of indigenous rural residents, rural leaders says it should include hillside burials, the right to build small houses and exemption from government rent.

Perhaps the strongman days of Lau Wong-fat are over?
At the same time there is no official figure on the number of indigenous residents in Hong Kong who can trace their male ancestry back to residents of the New Territories in 1898, though some rural leaders estimate it could be at least 300,000 of them.

So while the Heung Yee Kuk wants to put a positive spin on its image, who is going to believe it?

Peter Lam Yuk-wah, a public relations consultant, said rural leaders should give up the idea of a PR campaign to get people to accept their views and instead be prepared to make compromises.

"A campaign is more than forcing your views on others. There will be feedback. And how are you going to deal with that feedback is more important. Otherwise, you can make things worse," Lam said.

Perhaps members of the kuk need to realize Lau Wong-fat's strongman days are long gone and the only way to repair the PR damage is to do the right thing and return the land to the government...

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