THE Western-educated daughter of Heung Yee Kuk chief Mr Lau Wong-fat backs her father's stance on denying her sex equal rights on the inheritance of land. Despite having studied in Britain and earned a master's degree, Ms Lau Lai-fun said it ''did not matter'' that women were barred by ancient custom from owning land in the New Territories. ''It is Chinese tradition that the sons should get the estates and the rule has been there for so many years. Why should it be changed now?'' she said. Her comments came as the rural landowners group stepped up its campaign against Government moves to ease restrictions on women inheriting land in the New Territories with a warning it might breach the Basic Law. The Heung Yee Kuk also called for a referendum among residents should the Government push ahead, and warned of ''very serious repercussions'' if the views of New Territories people were ignored. Ms Lau, who is working in the family business, said it was a personal choice whether women should have the right to inherit. ''Every family has its own views,'' the eldest of Mr Lau's three daughters said. ''My family is really open-minded. We have never been treated unfairly.'' She defended her father for maintaining the status quo. ''If he had been unfair, he would not have sent the three of us to study in England,'' she said, referring to her other two sisters who also went to school in Britain. ''He is just following the rules of the Heung Yee Kuk.'' Ms Lau said her father had never discussed the issue of inheritance with them and it would be inappropriate for her to raise it. ''As women we should not argue on issue of estates with our parents.'' Records in 1991 show Mr Lau topped the list as the biggest landlord among Legislative Councillors, with 121 lots in Hongkong and five in Canada. Last week, the Kuk rejected a proposal to lift the controversial rule from new town areas, calling it ''unnecessary'' and ''inappropriate''. At present, traditional customs prohibiting women from inheriting land apply to both rural areas and new towns. Kuk member and lawyer Mr Alfred Lam Kwok-cheong said there was no urgency to amend the New Territories Ordinance because ''nobody is really bothered by it'' and the Government could always grant exemptions as it saw fit. He said there was widespread feeling among New Territories residents the Government was trying to force changes before 1997. ''I don't understand why the Government is trying to rush things through in recent years. It seems like everything must change [before 1997],'' Mr Lam said. ''I think we should wait after 1997 and the SAR [Special Administrative Region] will take care of it. ''Under the present political climate, if the Government decides to go its own way, it will send shock waves among New Territories residents,'' he said. ''It is a very serious matter to drop the rule. It has been there for 80 years and if it is dropped it will cause repercussions.'' Mr Lam also warned of a possible violation of the Basic Law. ''The Basic Law provides for the protection of the rights of indigenous New Territories residents,'' he said. ''To a certain extent it could be considered a violation of the Basic Law. If they change all the laws [relating to the rights of indigenous residents], there will be nothing left to protect at all.'' And given the few customary rights enjoyed by indigenous residents, Mr Lam was concerned the village way of life would not be adequately protected in the run up to 1997. He called for the Government to consult every resident and village before proposing changes. ''Now they are talking about democracy, then they should consult everyone who would be affected.''