The Heung Yee Kuk will remain the strongest backer and ally of the SAR leadership, despite challenges to the traditional rights of indigenous villagers, chairman Kenneth Lau Ip-keung said.
At a spring reception attended by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and other top government officials, as well as Liaison Office chief Wang Zhimin, Lau said there are a few people determined to fight New Territories villagers by mounting a judicial review on "ding rights."
Under the Small House Policy, an indigenous male villager aged 18 or above and descended from the male line of a New Territories village resident in 1898, may apply to the Lands Department once during his lifetime for permission to build for himself a small house in his own village. Such villagers are called "ding" in Chinese.
The review, filed by "king of judicial review" Kwok Cheuk-kin and social worker Hendick Lui Chi-hang, was heard in the High Court in December. The applicants argued that ding rights discriminate against the majority of Hongkongers and women.
The court has yet to hand down a judgment.
Lau said no matter what the ruling will be, villagers will remain patriotic and supportive of Hong Kong interests. He added though that he is confident the ruling will be in favor of villagers.
Lau said Lam had a tough time in the past year, during which New Territories villagers and others have voiced dissatisfaction with some government policies.
He hoped Lam will cope with the differences between urban and rural communities. "One can never satisfy everybody when it comes to politics," he added.
Lau stressed that under his leadership, the kuk must remain a strong backer and a loyal and reliable ally of Lam and her team.
On the second day of the Lunar New Year, Lau drew the middle or average fortune stick on behalf of Hong Kong at Che Kung Temple. The stick said the city is "working on something fruitless and that one is unlikely to have a full stomach."
Another rural committee deputy drew a "bad" stick for the fortunes of Sha Tin.
Yesterday, Sha Tin rural committee chairman Mok Kam-kwai said the results were not that bad. Even after getting a bad stick, one could press ahead by making reasonable decisions and reviewing oneself for improvement.
Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah said the kuk has been a reliable partner of the government and has made many recommendations to authorities reflective of villagers' opinions.
The government has allocated funding for small projects in the rural area, such as building sports grounds and leisure areas and laying optical fibers in faraway villages, he said. The official hoped the Kuk would continue to engage in meaningful exchanges with the government.