The chairman of the powerful rural body reiterated on Sunday the villagers’ strong determination to form their own political party in the near future, despite the pending green light from Beijing.

Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, who inherited the chairmanship of the Heung Yee Kuk – an advisory body representing the interests of indigenous villagers in the New Territories – from his father Lau Wong-fat last June, said several members had already shown interest in contesting Legislative Council elections this September.

In the Kuk’s annual spring reception, attended by top government officials and representatives of the major pro-establishment parties yesterday, Lau said his fellow rural villagers had had enough of relying on others to speak for them.

“Forming a political party is not just my own wishful thinking,” Lau said in his opening speech.

“Rural members have all imminently hoped by forming the party, we can have our own representatives in all levels of council to voice our humble demands.”

It was understood Beijing had not yet given the rural leaders the go-ahead. One concern was that the new rural party, provisionally called New Territories Progressive Alliance, could grab the votes that would otherwise go to other pro-establishment parties.

Lau yesterday admitted he had been in contract with Beijing Liaison Office officials in Hong Kong over the matter.

“They showed interest in the issue and discussed some pros and cons of us forming a new party. My impression was that they were neutral and did not express approval or disapproval,” said Lau.

Lau also said dual membership was not allowed by the new party, but did not specify when he would quit the Business and Professionals Alliance, of which his father was also a member.

Sheung Shui rural leader Bowie Hau Chi-keung, a key advocate for a new party, said they were already finalising the manifesto of the party, which could be formed as early as next month.

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