Emperor of New Territories, owner of 724 properties and the man they dared not cross, Uncle Fat dies

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Credit: South China Morning Post

“Uncle” Fat, owner of 724 properties and the most powerful man in the New Territories who helped ensure indigenous rights were enshrined in the Basic Law, has died. Lau Wong-fat, 80, was Chairman for 35 years of the Heung Yee Kuk, the body that the Government dares not cross. He was a member of the Legislative Council for almost as long, winning the no-show award for non-attendance. At Legco, he was regarded as one of the worst councillors. Lau failed to initiate a motion after 1998, except for 2013 when he attempted to stop Tai Long Sai Wan being incorporated into the country park. When Uncle Fat stepped down from the all-powerful Kuk his son Kenneth took over as Chairman. Throughout his life Uncle Fat gave convention and the establishment the finger while snaffling property after property after property. He was the Trump of Hong Kong.

Ah-fat was born in 1936 in Tuen Mun. As a young man he began political manoeuvring in the rural committee before shouldering aside other village heads to reach the Kuk’s chairmanship. He so cemented his position and built an army of allies that he was to stay in power from 1980 until two years ago. Appointed to the Basic Law Drafting Committee, Ah-fat helped make sure rural property interests were included in the drafting of the Basic Law. Donald Tsang appointed him to the Executive Council where he served for three years.

Lau was the centre of controversy in the declaration-of-interest scandal in Legco in 2010. He kept changing the number of owned properties he declared. Miriam Lau described him as “a huge landlord”. Ultimately LegCo declined to investigate Lau for reasons never given. The plots of land in Ah-Fat’s portfolio: 521 in Tuen Mun, 122 North District, 33 Yuen Long, 4 on the islands, 2 Tai Po and 2 mainland.

Married to Ng Mui-chu, Uncle Fat had five children, including Kenneth, who succeeds him as Chairman of the Heung Yee Kuk, Chairman of the Tuen Mun Rural Committee and Member of the Legislative Council.

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