Heung Yee Kuk factions split over plan to form political party
A split has emerged between two factions of the Heung Yee Kuk over the idea of forming a political party after one leader talked up the plan and another expressed scepticism.
The idea has taken root as the kuk's relations with Leung Chun-ying's administration have soured.
The government's plan to expand the Tuen Mun landfill and its efforts to include some village land in country parks have triggered protests by the rural community.
During an RTHK interview yesterday, kuk vice-chairman Daniel Lam Wai-keung backed the idea.
"As long as our candidates perform slightly better, we can get support from non-indigenous voters as well," he said. "I am confident we can achieve an election result better than the status quo."
In the 2012 Legco election, at least 29,000 votes were required to win a New Territories East seat and some 34,000 votes were needed to win a New Territories West seat.
Lam said that loyalty was important to any party and that members should not be affiliated with any other party.
As Lam has talked about the kuk's political plans over the past two weeks, another kuk vice-chairman, Cheung Hok-ming, a member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, played down the idea.
At a kuk luncheon, which Lam skipped, Cheung said the media had exaggerated talk about the possibility of a new party.
"What we are doing is revising our election strategy," he said. "We may not necessarily form a party."
Asked if he would quit the DAB if a party was formed by the rural community, Cheung said he would wait and see if that happened before making a decision.
Over the years, there have been attempts by the kuk to boost their electoral power. In 1998, a group formed by indigenous residents called the New Territories Alliance stood in the Legislative Council election with the kuk's support. All of its candidates, who included Lam, were defeated.
Since then, the kuk has been participating in Legco elections in teams with the DAB and the New Territories Association of Societies. Talk about establishing a party representing villagers surfaced in 2003 but soon died. Ahead of Legco elections since then, there have been suggestions the kuk should split with the DAB and field its own candidates.
Last month, the kuk set up a committee to look at ways to improve their election strategies, including by forming a party.
DAB lawmaker Ip Kwok-him said a new party formed by kuk members might weaken his party but that it was a matter for the kuk to decide.