NEW Territories residents have been promised that allowing women equal rights to inherit land will not endanger other indigenous customs. The pledge comes in a re-drafted amendment to the controversial New Territories Land (Exemption) Bill, which was postponed for six weeks in the face of stiff opposition from villagers. Officials said legislator Christine Loh Kung-wai's amendment ''if retained in its original form, may have the inadvertent effect of extinguishing customary rights related to land in the New Territories, other than rights of succession along the male line''. The amendment would therefore be redrafted to target equal land succession rights for men and women rather than all New Territories land-related issues, said a Home Affairs Branch paper to legislators. Legislators will examine the amendment in the bills committee today and the second and third readings will go ahead next month if agreed. Secretary for Home Affairs Michael Suen Ming-yeung said the amendment took into account opinions raised by legislators and was not based on any single proposal. In addition to the redrafted amendment, the Government would give specific assurances either through legal or administrative measures to indigenous inhabitants. For example, it would declare publicly that it had no intention of changing the Rating Ordinance which exempts indigenous residents from rates. ''The Government is ready to provide reasonable assurances to reduce their concerns,'' said Mr Suen. But it was not able to provide guarantees on male indigenous rights to build a house. Officials were aware of residents' concerns, but it was a difficult question. He hoped the measures would end the controversy, but accepted indigenous inhabitants would still reject the bill. The administration maintained that the amendment, according to legal advice, was consistent with Article 40 of the Basic Law which sought to protect indigenous inhabitants' traditional rights and interests. Ms Loh said the redrafted amendment was in line with what she had fought for. ''My focus has always been on land succession and the amendment has dealt with the problem clearly and so I accept it,'' said Ms Loh. She was optimistic most legislators would support the amendment and the bill would be passed as soon as the middle of next month. The representative body of New Territories indigenous inhabitants, the Heung Yee Kuk, has toned down its opposition towards the legislation. It has abandoned attempts to organise protest rallies today as legislators deliberate on the bill. But vice-chairman Daniel Lam Wai-keung warned the Government not to underestimate discontent. ''Many residents are very dissatisfied with the bill and we will continue our fight to stop unreasonable changes being forced upon us,'' he said.