Hau Chi-keung, the leader of a provisional new party which aims to garner support from rural voters, said he has consulted with Lau Wong-fat, the grand figure of the rural faction, on forming the party.
The speech from Hau, chairman of the Sheung Shui District Rural Committee, came after a noisy argument among rural committee leaders which showed opinions were divided on the wisdom of launching the party.
Hau said after a radio programme on Thursday that he had met with Lau – who was in hospital due to illness – a month ago, to seek his advice on the proposed party, provisionally called the New Territories Progressive Alliance.
He said Lau was not in a state of health to speak well and did not give him a verbal response: “I told Uncle Fat, I will hold your hand now, if you support it, shake my hand – if you think ‘don’t do it’, release your hand.”
“He shook my hand several times continuously,” Hau added. “But I didn’t know what he meant.”
On Wednesday, representatives from 15 rural committees called a press conference objecting to Hau’s plan to form the party, and representatives from 11 committees showed up, reported Apple Daily.
They opposed forming the party in the name of the Heung Yee Kuk, a powerful statutory advisory body consisting of 27 rural committees, arguing that its members should not form political parties.
But Hau gatecrashed the press conference with dozens of supporters, including Shap Pat Heung Rural Committee chairman Leung Fuk-yuen, and challenged those who opposed his plan.
Hau said the rural faction was not united during elections, that each member would only campaign for his own party.
In response, Shatin Rural Committee chairman Mok Kam-kwai questioned whether the formation of the party would be challenged legally. He said he did not oppose forming a party as such, but not in the name of the Kuk.
Hau then said that clear lines will be drawn between the new political party and the Kuk, and shook hands with Mok. He added that more details on the party would be revealed at a cocktail reception on April 25.
No legal basis
Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, Kuk chairman and son of Lau Wong-fat, later issued a statement saying that the rural advisory body does not have the legal basis to form a political party, and that there is simply no room for discussion on the matter.
Lau said it will be individual Kuk members’ decision, not the Kuk’s, in forming any political parties.
He added he hoped that all rural members would stay united.