A leading member of the Heung Yee Kuk has welcomed non-indigenous villagers to join its planned new political party.
Daniel Lam Wai-keung yesterday offered further details of the new party, revealed earlier by kuk members. Last week the group's chairman, Lau Wong-fat, had said members recognised the need to boost the kuk's political strength after witnessing how the government had pressed ahead with plans to incorporate private enclaves into country parks despite protests.
The kuk, a statutory advisory body representing indigenous New Territories villagers, has established an internal group to set out strategies for the next district council and legislative council elections, including plans to form a party.
Kuk vice-chairman Lam told TVB that members had not decided to form a party because they had been ignored by the government, but because they needed the backing of voters in order to effect change.
"This new government has been going for more than a year and there is no problem between us," Lam said. "It is an irresistible trend for us to form a party to run for elections and take part in politics. [Before the handover] we had many members in the Legislative Council, and things were smoother than they are now."
Lam said he believed people who were not indigenous inhabitants of the New Territories should also participate in any new party, as there are already a number of non-indigenous people involved with the body.
Some kuk members who serve as lawmakers, including Lau, have joined other political groups. Lam agreed it would be hard for them to make decisions if they were part of two parties, but did not comment on how to resolve the problem.
Kuk members are looking into possible legal restrictions to see if they would be allowed to use the Heung Yee Kuk name for the planned party and raise funds.
Earlier, Lau had said lessons had been learned from the kuk's failed attempts to block the plan to incorporate Tai Long Sai Wan enclave into a surrounding country park, which meant restrictions would be placed on development there. He said the body needed to reposition itself for the coming elections as it could have no power without votes.
Yesterday Lam dismissed concerns that the proposed new party would create conflict with other members of the pro-establishment camp opposed to the idea.
"There are many controversies in the Legislative Council at present even within the pro-establishment camp. On the whole, I believe [a new party] will be for the good of all Hong Kong residents," Lam said.
He also revealed that the kuk had informed the central government's liaison office of their plan to form a party. Lam said he believed that Beijing would not interfere in the matter.