The Food & Health Bureau today reminded those who wish to purchase niches at private columbaria to obtain full and complete information from the operators to check whether the columbaria are compliant with all relevant statutory requirements, including land lease and/or town planning requirements. They are also advised to seek independent legal advice on their rights if and when necessary.
In a paper put before the Legislative Council in December 2012, the Government raised for discussion a proposal to exempt "long-existing" private columbaria from a licensing scheme under contemplation. The bureau noted that messages soon started circulating in the market claiming that certain private columbaria would be exempted.
The bureau reiterated that, at this stage, the Government has not defined what constitutes a "long-existing" private columbarium, such as what the cut-off date should be. It is also unclear whether the proposal itself would gain wide public acceptance and the endorsement of the Legislative Council, thus it would be premature to conclude whether a certain private columbarium would be exempted in the future.
The public are also reminded to ascertain how the operators of private columbaria would look after the interests of their customers, such as whether and how they would refund or otherwise compensate their customers if the columbarium were to close down or be disallowed from operating.
The bureau emphasised that relevant government departments would continue to take enforcement action against any unauthorised private columbaria according to the powers within their jurisdiction.
to refer to "Points to note when purchasing private columbarium niches".