PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 March, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 March, 1994, 12:00am

FEMINISTS have criticised the daughter of New Territories legislator Lau Wong-fat for backing her father's stance to deny sexual equality rights on the inheritance of land.

They said Lau Lai-fun's view was naive because she had never suffered the pain of discrimination. The western-educated Ms Lau, with a master's degree, said it ''did not matter'' women were barred by ancient custom from owning land in the New Territories.

''It is Chinese tradition that the sons should get the estates. The rules have been there for so many years, why should the law be changed now?'' she said.

Ms Lau, who worked in the family business, said it was a personal choice whether a daughter should have the right to inherit.

''Every family has its own rules,'' the eldest of Mr Lau's three daughters said. ''My family is really open-minded. We have never been treated unfairly.

''If my father had been unfair, he would not have sent three of us to study in England,'' she said.

But Cheng Lai-sheung, who chairs the Anti-Discrimination Female Indigenous Residents Committee, rejects Ms Lau's view: ''She must feel completely comfortable in being a New Territories woman because she is the daughter of a billionaire. Her father can give her all the things she wants without any problem.'' She said Ms Lau should try to understand the hardships that New Territories women were experiencing. Another New Territories woman, Chan Shuk-ping, said people should think about the motive behind Ms Lau's words.

''Maybe she really has nothing to complain about, or probably she is under pressure from her father, or she may be trying to please Mr Lau,'' she said.

Ms Chan, a registered nurse, said her family only paid her school fees until primary six, even though her two elder brothers had the chance to study in Britain. She said she only earned her academic qualifications through part-time study.

''It is a very hard life,'' she said. ''Maybe Ms Lau doesn't need the property of her father, but others really need that right a lot.''