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The Heung Yee Kuk, officially the 'Heung Yee Kuk N.T.', is a statutory advisory body representing establishment interests in the New Territories, Hong Kong. The Kuk is a powerful organisation comprising heads of rural committees which represent villages and market towns.

Heung Yee Kuk
鄉議局
HengYeeKuk Logo.png
Emblem of the Heung Yee Kuk
Agency overview
Formed1926
Headquarters30 Muk Street, Shek Mun, Shatin, NT
Agency executives
Websitehyknt.org
Heung Yee Kuk
Traditional Chinese鄉議局
Simplified Chinese乡议局
Literal meaningRural Council

From 1980 to 2015 it was chaired by Lau Wong-fat, a billionaire landowner and heavyweight political figure in the pro-Beijing camp,[1] until he stepped down and was succeeded by his son Kenneth Lau Ip-keung.[2]

The organisation has its own functional constituency in the Hong Kong Legislative Council. It also controls 26 seats on the 1200-member committee which selects the Chief executive of Hong Kong.[3]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

In 1906, eight years after the lease of the New Territories from the Government of China began, the British colonial government of Hong Kong interceded in the land rights of indigenous male villages by converting those rights to block Crown leases (on which Crown rent was payable) over village land, creating significant discontent among villagers. The growing antagonism between villagers and the administration was exacerbated when, in 1923, the government imposed restraints on building of village houses on land held by villagers under the leases, including imposing a tax (known as a premium) on permission to build if granted.[4]:378

Tensions, whipped up by the newly formed Communist Party of China, boiled over in 1925 and the major upheavals of the Canton-Hong Kong strike crippled Hong Kong.[5]

HistoryEdit

It was in these circumstances that the Heung Yee Kuk was formed the next year from the New Territories Association of Agricultural, Industrial and Commercial Research,[6] to "work and negotiate with the government to promote the welfare of the people of the New Territories".[7] It was given formal status by the Heung Yee Kuk Ordinance (Chapter 1097), first enacted 11 December 1959 (originally as no. 45 of 1959) amid the construction of the first New Towns in the New Territories. The Kuk then consisted of 27 Rural Committees representing, in turn, 651 villages. All village representatives on the Rural Committees, generally appointed by village consensus but sometimes by election, had to be male heads of households.[6][8]:95 After just one such election was found to have been rigged in 1957, the government withdrew recognition of the Kuk entirely.[8]:98 The committees were, in any event, only representative of indigenous villagers, excluding large swathes of the New Territories population right from the Kuk's earliest days.[8]:97

After becoming a statutory advisory body, the Kuk met regularly with the New Territories Administration to discuss local issues and influence government policies. Tension came to a head in 1971 when a gathering of a thousand villagers in protest at government village house policy was described by the New Territories Commissioner Denis Bray as a "village uprising".[4]:380

As part of administrative reforms proposed by McKinsey in 1974, the colonial government established the position of Secretary for the New Territories to communicate with the Kuk and prepare for development of the area.[9]

Over the years the organisation has dabbled in charity work. For example, in 1966 it donated HK$660,000 to found the Heung Yee Kuk Yuen Long District Secondary School, in Yuen Long.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Bridge Builder Archived 28 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Christine Loh, Civic Exchange
  2. ^ Ng, Kang-chung (1 June 2015). "Heung Yee Kuk chairman steps into father's shoes saying he'll seek his advice". South China Morning Post.
  3. ^ "The Heung Yee Kuk: how a village governing body became an empire of rural leaders". South China Morning Post. 13 September 2016.
  4. ^ a b Goo, Say H (3 July 2014). Hualing Fu, John Gillespie (ed.). Resolving Land Disputes in East Asia: Exploring the Limits of Law. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107066823.
  5. ^ Horrocks, Robert James. The Guangzhou-Hong Kong Strike 1925–26. University of Leeds.
  6. ^ a b Lee, J; Nedilsky, L; Cheung, S (22 June 2009). Marginalization in China: Recasting Minority Politics. Springer. p. 169. ISBN 9780230622418.
  7. ^ HKBU receives HK$1 million to publish history of Heung Yee Kuk N.T., HKBU Communications Office, 28 April 2011
  8. ^ a b c Bray, Denis (2001). Hong Kong: Metamorphosis. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 962209550X.
  9. ^ Scott, Ian (1982). "Administering the New Towns of Hong Kong". Asian Survey. 22 (7): 665. doi:10.1525/as.1982.22.7.01p0395f.

External linksEdit