Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Kicking the hornet’s nest: ‘King of votes’ Eddie Chu to tackle rural gentry, but expects political violence

Eddie Chu Hoi-dick was not someone unknown to the Hong Kong public. In fact, he has been a leading activist in preservation issues since 2006. But on September 5, he stole the spotlight at the finishing line of his immensely successful Legislative Council bid – he is now the geographical constituency lawmaker with the strongest support: 84,121 votes.

This does not mean he will be leading an easy life. Instead, he said he may be facing more trouble, because he vowed to use his position to challenge the most powerful rural body in Hong Kong.

“I do not know if revealing more collusion between the government, business sector, rural faction and the triads would bring me more danger,” he said. “But as a political leader, I will not back down. Because if I back down, the rural people in the New Territories, our Hong Kong citizens, would only be living under more political violence.”

Eddie Chu

Eddie Chu. Photo: Cloud.

Chu, 38, said he was threatened in May.

“A village chief in Yuen Long called me. He said if I continue to get involved in [advocating] the plan to build 17,000 public housing units in an outdoor warehouse in Wang Chau, someone will attack me after September 4 [election],” he said.

But Chu has carried on questioning pro-Beijing lawmaker Leung Che-cheung of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong during his election campaign. He accused Leung of colluding with rural kingpin Tsang Shu-wo to stop the plan, in order for Tsang to keep his land from being taken back by the government.

Eddie Chu

Eddie Chu. Photo: Cloud.

Tsang is the chairman of the Ping Shan Rural Committee, part of the powerful rural body Heung Yee Kuk.

“The bad powers are those landowners who control the farmland in the New Territories – and what they are seeking is short term development, short term interests like open storage, like small houses, like other real estate development,” he said.

“These kinds of development are destructive of rural Hong Kong, and we should stop this destruction; we should stop the monopoly of this kind of landlord and the gentry in the Heung Yee Kuk.”

Tsang will not be his only target. Chu also accused Heung Yee Kuk top figures, namely its chairman lawmaker Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, and lawmaker Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, of being unfit to rule over the New Territories.

“They were appointed to the Heung Yee Kuk through the New Territories Justices of the Peace system [by the government], they have no rights to represent our New Territories villagers, they have no right to monopolise the powers of the Heung Yee Kuk,” he said.

Eddie Chu

Eddie Chu. Photo: Cloud.

“I will be challenging these two people in the Legislative Council,” he added. “I will use my ability as a [former] investigative journalist, to reveal all the dirt of these two people, to let the world know how dirty politics is in the New Territories.”

“I will use the advantage of having 80,000 Hong Kong voters to push for an immediate reform of the Heung Yee Kuk and the rural system. Hong Kong should preserve its environment and we should stop those landlords, landowners, triad societies [from controlling] our New Territories, because if we want Hong Kong to be a sustainable city, we should revive our local agriculture and stop all the destruction.”

Eddie Chu

Eddie Chu with supporters. Photo: Cloud.

He said the returned bookseller Lam Wing-kee was his role model.

“He was detained for so many months, why did he have the bravery to come out and reveal his troubles… to the whole world?” he said. “Because he believed there is still justice in Hong Kong. Hong Kong people can tell right from wrong, that they will stand up when there is political violence.”

“I will keep standing up against the bad powers in the New Territories. I do not want Hong Kong to be filled with political violence. I do not want my daughter, our next generation, to be unable to speak the truth.”

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Kicking the hornet's nest: 'King of votes' Eddie Chu to tackle rural gentry, but expects political violence