Rural strongman Lau Wong-fat plans to publish biography

Rural lawmaker says he plans to publish a biography detailing his journey from a poor farming family to top political power broker

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 5:07am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 May, 2014, 5:07am

Rural strongman Lau Wong-fat has decided to put everything on the record.

After more than five decades of power-broking between the government and the people, the Heung Yee Kuk chairman - known affectionately as "Uncle Fat" - plans to record all his experiences in a biography.

"I've been planning to publish a memoir since the beginning of the year and I'm now looking for a suitable writer," says Lau, Tuen Mun district council chairman and the kuk's lawmaker.

Lau, also of the pro-government Business and Professional Alliance, turns 78 this year. The city's oldest incumbent lawmaker, he says he is still largely healthy, but has wanted to retire for some time now.

The New Territories power broker and former executive councillor believes people will be interested to read about his dealings with the city's governments over the last 50 years.

"Wouldn't it be interesting for an elderly person like me to tell my stories of dealing with the colonial government?" Lau asks.

Indeed, the story of the rural kingpin's journey from simple village boy to the top echelons of local politics is bound to be a captivating tale.

Born to a poor farming family in Lung Kwu Tan village in Tuen Mun in 1936, Lau was just another indigenous villager running a small-scale business before he stepped into politics.

Beginning his political career as Lung Kwu Tan's village representative, he quickly advanced to become chairman of the Tuen Mun Rural Committee in 1970.

A few years earlier, during Hong Kong's 1967 leftist riots, he had caught the colonial government's attention after his success in persuading villagers to sell chunks of agricultural land to the government, public utilities boards and developers at what was seen as extremely low prices.

By 1980, he had climbed to the top ranks of the kuk - the official body that represents indigenous villagers and rural interests in the New Territories - and has occupied the position since.

But after more than 30 years as the kuk's chairman, Lau is now making plans to retire and hand over the reins.

But he is pessimistic about forming a New Territories party - an idea that was much talked about in February - citing a funding problem.

"If you're forming a party, you need a boss," Lau says, referring to the necessity of securing strong financial support. "But we do not have the money."

The idea of forming a political party to represent the New Territories came about after the kuk's relations with the Leung Chun-ying administration soured.

The kuk did not see eye to eye with the government over some issues, including Leung's intentions to expand the Tuen Mun landfill, which is fast reaching capacity, as well as plans to incorporate some village land into country parks.

Tuen Mun Rural Committee chairman Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, who was initially supportive of the idea to form a rural party, admits talk of the plan has died down. "It's because of a range of factors, including the lack of money, talent and a manifesto," Ho says. "The initial passion may have been an emotional response [to deteriorating relations with the government]."