FURIOUS Cheung Chau residents have threatened to sue the Government if their dispute over a clan's land surcharge is not resolved by early November. The dispute concerns a long-held right by the Wong Wai Tsak Tong of Cheung Chau to charge administration fees on land transactions, making it the island's de facto landlord. The Cheung Chau Rural Committee has advised residents not to pay any fee until the matter is resolved. For administrative convenience, the Government granted a single Crown lease in 1905 to the clan, which was required to sub-lease land to indigenous residents. Although it meant residents had to pay administration fees to both the clan and the Government, the clan charged only a nominal rate. However, in recent years the clan charge has risen dramatically, leading to the present row with island residents who claim the clan has no right to charge administration fees, and any land taxes should be paid directly to the Government. Last year, the Government promised to introduce legislation this year to abolish the clan fees system after failing to mediate successfully between the two parties. But a spokesman for the Planning, Environment and Lands Branch (PELB) declined to comment on when the bill would be put before the Legislative Council. Cheung Chau Rural Committee chairman Fung Pak-tai questioned whether the new law would be enacted before November 6 - the deadline for renewal of the sub-leases. ''If the Government cannot enact the new law before November 6, we would sue the Government for breaking its promise,'' Mr Fung said. He said legal action would still proceed even if the bill is tabled for discussion by the council in November. ''The Government promised to solve the problem before the renewal deadline. We cannot allow the situation to continue, we don't care how much it would cost,'' he said. It is understood the Government plans to take over the duties of the Wong clan from November and extend Cheung Chau leases for more than 50 years until 2047. Wong Wai Tsak Tong vice-chairman Wong Kam-por said the clan had not been informed by the Government that their right to collect surcharges would end this year. ''We're being kept in the dark, the Government did not inform or consult us on the legislation, and therefore we will proceed as usual,'' Mr Wong said. ''The Government must offer us reasonable compensation if the new measures infringe on our benefits,'' he said. A PELB spokesman admitted the Government was considering terms of compensation. The dispute has caused confusion among Cheung Chau residents. Mr Wong said more than 50 telephone inquiries on the arrangement of land-tax payments had been received since June. The PELB spokesman said all parties would be informed once the proposed legislation was completed. The clan has about 1,100 members, with only about 10 per cent living on the island. But the clan is the registered owner of more than 1,400 lots of land in Cheung Chau. It is understood the clan could levy about $40,000 this year in land tax. Substantial ''compensation'' - 20 per cent of the Government's conversion premium - would be demanded by the clan if the lease terms changed. A recent residential resort scheme in Tai Kwai Wan paid about $6 million ''compensation'' to the clan before the project could proceed. Resident Kenneth Wong Ho-ming said he had lost millions of dollars since the clan refused to agree to his proposed property development. ''I have asked how much money they want to charge, but they haven't replied,'' he said. ''They simply have no rules on charging service fees, it only depends on how good the relationship is with them,'' he claimed.