Say H Goo and Heather Lee
2020, Vol. 50, Part 3 of 2020, pp. 961-982
Abstract: A customary ding right granted to male indigenous villagers to erect small houses in the New Territories has caused discontent amongst non-indigenous villagers and indigenous women and attracted attention from international organisations concerned with equality and non-discrimination. Claiming it to be a de jure property right, a lawful traditional right protected under the Basic Law and mingling this with complaints about historical land expropriation, indigenous villagers are advancing their claim for the recognition of and respect for Chinese customs and practices. Given the shortage of land resources and the indeterminate number of male indigenous villagers who will apply to build small houses over an indefinite period of time, as well as the recurrent abuse of the ding rights by means of tao ding and the unauthorised structures resulting from insufficient ex-ante and ex-post supervision, the equitable distribution of land resources has been an important unresolved issue in Hong Kong. This article discusses the legal issues and sustainability of the ding right and suggests possible solutions.