Perfect timing to reconcile disputes over “ding” rights | Lam Yau-pan

Published (HKT): 2021.04.08 09:23

The impact of Wong Kwong-wing, dubbed mogul of “ding” houses (small houses only indigenous males in the New Territories are entitled to build by law), under arrest is no trivial. Every head of clans in the New Territories that rose up by buying and selling of “ding” rights(small house concessionary rights for indigenous males in the New Territories) and property speculation finds himself in danger. As the buying and selling of “ding” rights by Wong’s clan and the profit of billions of dollars gained through buying and selling of “ding” houses have been covered by Apple Daily, I refrain from making this opinion piece redundant.

I would rather like to analyze from a political perspective why “ding” rights are not a long-term resolution. The policy took effect in 1972. In those days, the British-Hong Kong government already emphasized that “ding” rights were a “transitional solution”. The reason behind was simple: as back then Hong Kong was scarcely populated with backward infrastructure, and abundant in land resource, not least supply in the New Territories, this law granting civilians the rights to build their own houses became a stopgap adopted by the British-Hong Kong government to appease the masses. Nonetheless, such a makeshift measure, which is like a pyramid-scheme fraud, is unsustainable.

The population has been growing fast in the city with limited supply of land. Though today’s indigenous neonates are entitled to “ding” rights, the land available for construction of residential buildings is in the hands of few interest groups. Simply put, “they are ‘dings’ but have no rights”, which is actually a bomb the government has left behind. With a shortage of land supply, “ding” rights still in marketable condition, and the imperfect law in place, the “ding” rights issue has become a curse to the indigenous inhabitants of the New Territories.

The mainstream public opinion is in favor of revoking “ding” rights to release more land for the absolutely destitute. Now the Carrie Lam administration has absolute power to arbitrarily abrogate “ding” rights through the LegCo, and lay down measures to clean up the mess afterward. In those days when Carrie Lam was still the head of the Development Bureau, she was the driving force in the government stoutly pledging to clamp down on “ding” rights. Now that the timing is right, and the geographical and social conditions are favorable, Carrie Lam is simply incompetent if she steers clear of it.

On the surface the government is pressed to start working on the “ding” rights issue: while the opposition faction in the legislature is totally weeded out, the authority of China’s government in Hong Kong is consolidated. Those who are familiar with the communist party history know that the objective of the united front to league with the “minor foes” to attack the “major foes” has already been achieved. In other words, the “foes” left behind now lie in different cliques in its own camp. The country gentlemen are definitely among one of them.

The master said Hong Kong needs no “loyal trash”, which is an awakening blow dealt to the pro-establishment camp, including the country gentlemen in the New Territories, business bigwigs and all Administrative Officers in the government who carved their career in the British colony. To put it another way, being the “spawn of the British-Hong Kong governance”, they would wage internal battles against one another for survival. A problem left behind by the colonial government, “ding” rights are no big deal when even the Sino-British Joint Declaration is deemed by China historical document nullified. What’s most absurd is all the country gentlemen think their power and land interest will be sustainable if they brandish the banner of love for the country and the Party, which is an exemplary demonstration of deceiving oneself and others.

Although the notion of discharging a worthy person when he/she has served his/her purpose is well known, everyone just refuses to face up to the fact that guns are already drawn on them in their heads.

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