My Take

This time, shameless Heung Yee Kuk has crossed the red line

Body representing the interests of indigenous New Territories residents now wants low-interest loans on top of land rights – at the expense of taxpayers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 12:30am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 August, 2016, 12:30am

The Heung Yee Kuk has taken shamelessness to a whole new level. Not content with the so-called ding rights to build small houses for indigenous male villagers in the New Territories, the kuk wants the government to offer them low-interest mortgages. In effect, that would amount to handing out no-interest loans, provided by taxpayers like you and me.

The reason, according to kuk chairman Kenneth Lau Ip-keung during a meeting with Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah this week, is that villagers have been unfairly barred from trading their ding rights with developers and other buyers for profit. This is despite the practice having gone on for years and has only recently been subject to an official crackdown. Eleven villagers were jailed for up to three years in December after they illegally sold their land rights to a developer. The kuk and its allies were so incensed by the court ruling that they have since been demanding their pound of flesh.

The proposed mortgage scheme/scam would presumably serve as some kind of compensation. Lau’s deputy, Daniel Lam Wai-keung, said many villagers could not borrow money because of high interest rates in the private market.

Kuk mortgage call for indigenous villagers hits a brick wall

What? We already live in such a historically low-rate environment that banks are practically paying you to borrow if you factor in inflation.

Lau is set to enter the Legislative Council uncontested next month to take over the seat for the kuk – which represents the interests of indigenous New Territories residents – from his father, the rural kingpin Lau Wong-fat.

Judging from his latest proposal, Lau Jnr has already mastered the art of the rip-off perfected by his father.

It was Lau Snr – in the greatest wealth transfer from the city to the villages – who successfully arm-twisted Beijing and the Hong Kong government into accepting ding rights to build “small houses” – a colonial administrative measure to address a temporary housing shortage in the New Territories – into an ancient right protected under the Basic Law. The son is desperate to pull off a second act.

But junior’s proposal is so outrageous that even the government, which usually bends over backwards to make the kuk happy, has to say no.

Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said the government had to be prudent with the public coffers and that many people – and not just villagers – struggle to become homeowners.

Chan, for once, shows spine.