Ng Clan Ancestral Trust in Nga Tsin Wai

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Ng Clan Ancestral Trust in Nga Tsin Wai 
Nga Tsin Wai is a Punti walled village which was jointly built by villagers surnamed Ng, Lee and Chan in the early 15th century. Ancestral trusts are organisations that manage a clan’s ancestral properties. The Ng Clan’s main ancestral trusts are Ng Shing Tat Tso and Ng Yat Un Tso. All Ng Clansmen from Nga Tsin Wai are members of the former, while members of the latter are mainly fourth branch clansmen. In the past, ancestral properties were mainly houses or farmlands. After the Second World War, the Government expropriated the majority of Ng Clan’s lands, compensating them on a per square foot basis. Clansmen used the payments to either purchase houses or deposit in banks to gain interest. In recent years, such ancestral properties have also been turned into cash deposits or real estate investments. Nowadays Ng Shing Tat Tso’s main properties include the Ng Clan Ancestral Hall and its nearby Chi Tak Publich School. The Tin Hau Temple, three-surnamed ancestral house and village office are jointly owned by Ngs, Chans and Lees. Ancestral trusts are managed by several managers, most of them older clansmen whose higher seniority is respected across their respective branches or descent lines. If an ancestral trust is registered as a limited company, its manager usually serves as a Director.
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The clansmen competing to be the manage of Ng Shing Tat Tso before the War
Ng Sai Ming

The pre-war Ng Shing Tat Tso only had one manager, who dealt with rental affairs at his full discretion, kept property records and a rent book.  The Ng Clan rented a lot of land to factories, such as sauce factory and cow leather factory, on 10-year leases usually.  Few factories withheld their rents, and the rent collection process was smooth.  The manager looked after all the leasing, and was responsible for signing leases and deciding the level of rents.  He paid a sum of money annually to ancestral hall and kept the rest of the rental income himself.  Therefore, this managerial position was regarded as a lucrative job.  Every first lunar month, on the seventh day, the elders gathered at the ancestral hall to discuss the asset management arrangements for the year.  People fought at the meetings because everyone wanted to be the manager.  Lots of Ng Clan’s land got leased out cheaply because the managers wanted to lease land in large quantity regardless of how much the rent actually was.

Title The clansmen competing to be the manage of Ng Shing Tat Tso before the War
Material Type
Accession No. OH-NTW-HLT-001
Because of traditional custom there was a female manager of Ng Hon Ko Tso
Ng Fat Chuen

Managers of ancestral trust are usually male. However, there are exception sometimes. Ng Hon Ko Tso owned a piece of farmland in Tai Hom Village.  Before the war, Ng Ying Pui (Ng Fat Chuen’s father) and Ng Tso Hing  ran two bean sprout factories there.  After the end of the war, the clansmen went to the District Office to re-register the title of the land, but Ng’s father were already gone missing and Ng’s himself was under 21 years old (the legal age for registration).  In that case, no male decedent of Leung Yam branch met the age requirement.  The government asked Ng’s mother to represent the Leung Yam branch.  Other men in the clan also persuaded her, saying, “Pui’s woman!  You have to do this!”  Hence she agreed to be a manager for Ng Hon Ko Tso and became one of the title holders.     

Title Because of traditional custom there was a female manager of Ng Hon Ko Tso
Material Type
Accession No. OH-NTW-HLT-002
Taking over the Manager post of Sam Shing Tso, Nga Tsin Wai from his granduncle
Ng Hung On

Ng Hung On became the manager of Sam Sing Tso in 2004 in place of his granduncle Ng Yeung Kin who died in 1996. Sam Sing Tso is the ancestral trust of the Nga Tsin Wai Clans of Ng, Lee and Chan. Their ancestors are Chan Chiu Yin Tso, Lee Shing Kai Tso and Ng Shing Tat Tso respectively. The Chan clansmen settled in Tseung Kwan O in the early period, while the Ng and Lee Clans continued to live in Nga Tsin Wai. The Ng Clan had the largest number of descendents, they owned a lot of farmlands for lease too. The Lee Clan had the least number of descendents. The properties owned by Sam Sing Tso included the Temple of Tin Hau and the adjacent Chung Sho (common house). The fish pond might also have been part of their properties. (Editor’s note: The moat of Nga Tsin Wai.) Ng Hung On had heard about that from his father when he was in his twenties, it was the Lee Clan members who paid the crown rent. But, the elderly members of the Lee Clan preferred to save up money for claypot puddings to paying the crown rent. Eventually, the land was resumed by the government. When Ng Hung On was about 6 years old, the public hall was a place where the villagers played music and learned singing at night. When it collapsed after the War, a couple emigrated from Meixian rebuilt it. They installed several looms and operated textile business there. They paid incense and oil fee in place of a rent. In 2004, Ng Hung On, representatives of each of the 3 clans of Sam Sing Tso, Ng Kau the village headman and Leung Shek Lun had asked the old lady to pay the rent at an amount to be decided by her. 

Title Taking over the Manager post of Sam Shing Tso, Nga Tsin Wai from his granduncle
Material Type
Accession No. OH-NTW-HLT-003
Taking over the Manager post of the 3rd Branch of the Ng Clan
Ng Pok Kong

When Ng Pok Kong’s father died in 2009, he assumed the old man’s post as the manager of the third branch. It was around about now that he started returning to Nga Tsin Wai more frequently. While his father rarely did more than occasionally mention village affairs to him in passing, Ng Pok Kong felt that the old man wanted him to succeed him as manager. Though his father did not say so directly, he did give out hints and he seemed to have an unspoken understanding about the succession with his son. After Ng Pok Kong retired in 2006, his father started talking about village affairs with him more often. He also instructed Ng Pok Kong to start attending the meetings of the village office and ancestral hall. Ng Pok Kong’s father did not tell his son’s younger brothers or Ng Shui Chuen’s descendants who also belonged to the third branch to attend the meetings. As a result, Ng Pok Kong felt an urging that he should take over from his father.

After the old man’s death, Ng Pok Kong consulted the third branch clansmen, asking them to sign a consent form to agree to his taking on the newly vacated post. Everyone readily agreed to sign and Ng Pok Kong returned the consent forms to Sai Kung District Office to complete the succession formalities. At this time, his cousin had already emigrated to the U.S. and completely trusted Ng Pok Kong to act in everyone’s best interests. According to seniority precedents, one of Ng Pok Kong’s two younger uncles should really have become the third branch manager. That said, each brother only rarely returned to the village to pay their respects to their dead mother at the village’s ancestral hall during Chung Yeung Festival. Of all the third branch clansmen, Ng Pok Kong had the highest educational attainments. That said, apart from his cousin, Ng Pok Kong was the oldest in age and was the person who spent most time participating in village affairs. Inspired by his father, Ng Pok Kong’s election as manager of the third branch could be said to be the result of an “unwritten understanding”. After each meeting, Ng Pok Kong reported matters that had been discussed to his fellow third branch clansmen. Besides informing his younger brothers, he also informed Ng Shui Chuen’s son by telephone.

Title Taking over the Manager post of the 3rd Branch of the Ng Clan
Material Type
Accession No. OH-NTW-HLT-004
Being responsible to the task of being the respresentative of Prime Branch to take over the manag...
Ng Sui Kuen

When Ng Sui Kuen returned to the village in 2001, Ng Kau the village headman asked him to be the manager of the eldest branch for the purpose of discussing the acquisition issue. It was because Wu Guo Qiang the former manager was unwilling to stay in the post for reason of traffic inconvenience for he settled in Guangzhou and it was inconvenient for him to come to Hong Kong for the meetings. Ng Sui Kuen promised to take over the job. Besides, he was the most senior member of the eldest branch and knew most clearly the affairs of Nga Tsin Wai.

In the past, Ng Sui Kuen had never seen Wu Guo Qiang because they lived far apart. He only knew from his father that they were members of the eldest branch. After Ng Sui Kuen promised to be appointed, he was taken by Ng Kau and Ng Hung On to Guangzhou where he met Wu Guo Qiang and his brothers. They had total trust in Ng Sui Kuen. At present, the families of Ng Sui Kuen and Wu Guo Qiang are the only remaining households of the eldest branch. Ng Sui Kuen would meet with them from time to time and report the latest news of the village and the meetings.

Title Being responsible to the task of being the respresentative of Prime Branch to take over the manager post
Material Type
Accession No. OH-NTW-HLT-005
Facing succession crisis after took over the affairs of ancestral trust
Ng Siu Hung

Ng Siu Hung regrets that lack of continuity and succession of clan affairs. In the old days, Ng Shing Tat Tso was taken under the wing of several elders. As these men had supreme authority and younger residents followed their advice, no one dared voice any objection. When the Ng Clan Ancestral Hall was opened, young people were not allowed to join the older clansmen inside to eat roasted pork or drink rice liquor. Ng Siu Hung thought that when elders made the decisions, it was easy to get things done as many disputes were avoided. Unfortunately, the elders had lower education levels and did not know how to maintain records of correspondence between the ancestral trust and the Government. The fact that the younger generation also failed to follow matters up resulted in a lack of continuity and succession which made it hard for them to take over from their elders. When Ng Siu Hung became Manager, he had to check up and trace back past matters by himself.  

Title Facing succession crisis after took over the affairs of ancestral trust
Material Type
Accession No. OH-NTW-HLT-006
Scattered clansmen gathered to discuss the distribution of the compensation
Ng Chi Wing

In recent years, the URA acquired the site occupied by Tin Hau Temple to carry out a redevelopment project via title owners surnamed Ng, Chan and Lee. With a purchase price of about HK$11,000,000, Clansmen of each surname could expect to get HK$3,000,000. Tseung Kwan O’s Ng Clan took the initiative to contact Nga Tsin Wai’s Ng Clan to discuss the allocation of compensation. Ng Chi Wing thought that it would not be easy to contact all the Clansmen. As the number of Clansmen in Tseung Kwan O was not clear, it would also be difficult to fairly share all the money. In order to avoid any disputes in future, he proposed to retain the Ng Clan’s share of compensation as funds for maintaining the ancestral hall. His motion was unanimously carried.

Title Scattered clansmen gathered to discuss the distribution of the compensation
Material Type
Accession No. OH-NTW-HLT-007
Democratizing the affairs of village was not agreed by the clansmen
Ng Chiu Pang

Ng Chiu Pang had received a western education since childhood and strongly identified himself with modern social values such as democracy, equality and the rule of law. He had proposed possible ways to improve democracy and legal awareness to his fellow villagers but encountered great resistance. As a result, he often grew frustrated when his opinions were not given the respect he felt they deserved. Ng Chiu Pang points out now that many villagers claimed themselves to be “walled villagers” who abided by traditional rules and customs, but ignored democratic awareness. In doing so, they created unequal participation in village affairs in that not everyone was entitled to express their wishes and desires. He thinks that the village “managers” served as a bridge who represented the villagers’ opinions to the Government and informed the villagers of any official new regulatory requirements. The managers also urged everyone to attend meetings and discussions. Some villagers thought that a few managers could decide everything. Thinking that such views did not conform with the practices of modern society, Ng Chiu Pang did his best to raise different opinions with his clansmen. 

Title Democratizing the affairs of village was not agreed by the clansmen
Material Type
Accession No. OH-NTW-HLT-008
Endless entangling problem of manager confirmation
Ng Siu Kei

When Ng Siu Kei began getting involved in ancestral trust affairs, he also had to face the issue of confirmation of the Manager post of which had remained unresolved since the 1990s. In 2008, the managers of the eldest, second and fourth branches did not have any status in law. Despite this, Ng Siu Kei was very confident about taking over the matter. In doing so, he followed the rules of Sai Kung District Office when dealing with the paperwork and other formalities involved in manager confirmation. In order to comply with the authority’s requests regarding the updating of the genealogy, Ng Siu Kei spent whole days in the ancestral hall alone, doing the copying and vetting work. During that time, he saw the dilapidation of the ancestral hall and proposed that he and his fellow clansmen start restoration work. The building’s eventual cleanliness and brightness were all a direct result of the clansmen’s positive response to his proposal. Looking back, Ng Siu Kei says that hard work was not a key to success in the handling of the affairs of the clan because of the unpredictability of external factors. As a result, the confirmation of the managers has still not yet been realised. Ng Siu Kei says now that while he always tried to do his best for his ancestors, he is now in a state of despair and disappointment. Although his heart is unwilling, all he can do is to face the reality and comply with the requests of the District Office as he has lost the ambition he had at the outset. 

Title Endless entangling problem of manager confirmation
Material Type
Accession No. OH-NTW-HLT-009