Government claims against private columbarium tossed out

Local | 9 Mar 2018 2:25 pm

The Court of Appeal has thrown out a government bid to close down a private columbarium located in a remote village in Tung Chung, rejecting claims that the business is offensive.

The columbarium in the remote village of Nim Yuen opened in 2015, after its owner bought the land from indigenous villagers.

But the government decided the business was "an offensive trade” and contravened the government lease, so it sought to resume the plots the same year.

This led the company, Uni-creation Investments Limited, to launch the case. A lower court last year ruled in favor of the company, and the government appealed.

But, the appeal court agreed with the trial judge that the government’s evidence was weak.

The appeal court said while, in general, one may feel uneasy "living next door to the dead,'' in this case, clan graves and urns containing human remains had existed in the village well before the columbarium opened. And, in fact, the judge noted, all the land in the village was bought up by the company and no one lives there anymore.

The court also said the government was wrong to say the business will affect the land value and development potential of the neighborhood, since no one had ever put forward any definite development plans at all.

The three-judge panel also said columbarium itself is not an offensive business, and that legislation has been put in place to regulate such businesses in Hong Kong to make sure they are properly managed.-RTHK

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