Singing and dancing in the rain - for their customs, homes

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 February, 2011, 12:00am

The rain and cold failed to dampen villagers' enthusiasm to defend their homes. They sang and cheered at a mini-concert aimed at gaining support against a developer's plan to move them all out so their land can be used for redevelopment.

About 200 people, many of them teenagers, showed up at the concert held in Ma Shi Po village in Fanling last Sunday. The temperature dipped to around 10 degrees Celsius and it was raining throughout. But the crowd only got bigger and louder as the concert went on.

Since the government said in 1998 that Fanling North would be developed into a low-density new town with both public and private housing, Henderson Land has been active in land acquisition.

According to North East New Territories Concern Group member Chan Kim-ching, 25, about 700 families once lived in the village. Now only 100 remain.

It is one of the very few villages in Hong Kong where people grow crops for sale to the local market.

Becky Au Hei-man, 25, grew up in the village, which is like one big family, she said. 'It is not just a village. It is my home,' she said. 'I am very happy today, and I hope it can be this bustling every day.'

Although 16-year-old Chan Kuen does not live in the village, she came to the concert to show her support. She even sang on stage.

Another outsider, Chu Kai-kai, 25, has gone even further. In an effort to stand up for the villagers' rights, she rented a flat in the village a few months ago and has been living there ever since. Not only will the villagers lose their homes if they have to move out, she said, people in Hong Kong will lose the chance to understand the culture of a unique farming community.