Legco member and rural land justice campaigner Eddie Chu has called on democrats and environmentalists to contest the coming 2019 village elections.
Speaking at a Living Islands Movement meeting on Friday, Chu most of the 1500 village representatives in Hong Kong villages are uncontested.
“We don’t have our candidates from the environmental or democratic movements. It’s such a huge gap,” he said.
Village elections are important because the government uses the local level support to lend legitimacy to projects such as the East Lantau Metropolis and the Macau Bridge, he said.
Chu was dubbed ‘king of the voters’ after he was elected to Legco with more votes than any other candidate ast last year’s poll. He said that as Legco member covering rural Lantau and western New Territories he had a “certain mandate” to become involved in the politics of Heung Yee Kuk and rural areas generally.
“In my experience during the election, many villagers, including indigenous villagers, are supportive of my election platform – conserve the environment and stop white elephant infrastructure projects – but they don’t have the confidence to come out. They want to come out as a group.”
Chu aims to create a new alliance among rural representatives to “create a new area for bargaining with the establishment. I think that is very crucial in building up our foundation,” he said.
He also pointed out the Heung Yee Kuk, the indigenous rural landowners peak body, was living on borrowed time.
“The kuk itself is under serious crisis itself because they don’t have the support of Hong Kong general public and Beijing is considering whether to abandon them. They need to shift their basic position. That’s my message to Kenneth Lau, the kuk leader: “If you want the kuk to continue to exist and have influence, then you have to democratise yourself.”
A 2015 survey by local think tank Civic Exchange found that 65% of Hong Kong people wanted a change to the small house policy.