“Don’t bother talking to me. I won’t talk to him,” he warns Brown. “Don’t walk past my front door, because I’ll do him over if I see him!”
However, Mimi Ng Suk-yan, does not find it hard to communicate with Brown although she is an indigenous local who does not know English. She says they use body language to interact with each other and Brown’s wife helps to translate. Ng is glad Brown was elected as she thinks he is helpful. The small garden in front of her house is one of his works.
Jonathan Mortimer, an expatriate resident of four years, also thinks that Brown has helped to improve the quality of life. However, he says he wishes Brown and Mo could work together as the indigenous heads still have the real power and connections in the villages. He does not believe the two will ever be able to cooperate with each other.
Independent legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip, one of the villagers of San Shek Wan, compares what Brown is doing to hitting his head against a brick wall. He thinks Brown is in an even worse situation than he is in the Legislative Council because he has to fight alone against the “feudalism” of traditional New Territories villages.
Brown is still determined to fight against the old, traditional system in which the chief has the right to demand everyone to listen to him. “We have to do it in this village because we have that sort of attitude that we are fighting against where we are getting told nothing and just getting things imposed on us,” he says.
Being responsible for five railway construction projects now, Brown admits he has less time for village matters than before. However, he does not complain about his workload, as he does not consider being a village representative to be a job: “It is a passion. It is a bit like my hobby, like sailing.”
Despite having to juggle his work, village affairs and family life, Brown is still working hard to be a complete local. His wife is a local and one of his daughters is bilingual, but they only speak in English at home. Despite the effort he has put into learning Cantonese for so many years, he is still unable to speak it.
He recalls a funny experience of going to the market with his wife: “My wife went to a store and the woman said: “ya-sarm mun”. I said: what is that? She said it is twenty-three dollars. I know that twenty-three is “yee-sup-sarm”. So you guys cheat! You guys do not speak like what it says in the book.”
In spite of his passion for managing village matters, he would like to encourage others to take on his job and run in the next village representative election. He says he does not want to be another Mo who occupies the village head’s position for nearly 40 years. He thinks all villagers have an obligation to contribute to the community that he would love to stay in for the rest of his life.
“I cannot be anywhere else. When I go to the UK, I just want to come back here. I think it is home,” says Brown, without a shadow of doubt.