Warring heads get offer of official mediation
Hong Kong's warring village heads should seek help from district officials, the government said yesterday.
A spokeswoman for the Home Affairs Department said it could act as mediator to bring the two heads together to work in harmony in the interests of all villagers.
The advice came as the war of words between Andrew Brown, the newly elected non-indigenous village representative and the re-elected indigenous village chief Mo Ngan-fuk, heightened yesterday amid claims of political manoeuvring and mud-slinging.
Nine villagers voted for Mr Brown, while his defeated opponent Mo Kam-to got eight votes, all of them from members of his family. The village has 51 residents but only 18 were registered to vote. One failed to show up at the polling station on July 20.
Mr Brown said he had written to the department to seek clarification of the functions of the two village representatives.
A department spokeswoman said it had yet to receive Mr Brown's inquiry but added that the major function of the indigenous inhabitant representative is to reflect the views of the indigenous inhabitants of the village. Indigenous villagers are those residents who can trace their roots back to 1898.
It was also necessary to deal with all affairs relating to the lawful traditional rights and interests of indigenous inhabitants.
The spokeswoman said the major function of the resident, or non-indigenous, representative was to reflect views of the residents of a village about the affairs of that village.
She added: 'A resident representative shall not deal with any affairs relating to the lawful traditional rights and interests of indigenous inhabitants.'
She said this year's village representative elections were established in accordance with the Court of Final Appeal's ruling and to ensure that the elections were open and fair.
'The new arrangement was set after a review of the old system and extensive public consultation, in particular with the rural community.
'This is the first village representative election ever put under a legal framework.
'Although under the Village Representative Election Ordinance the two village representatives have different roles, co-operation between the two is expected to ensure views of the village can be fully reflected.'