Columbarium projects damaging rural HK

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    With space now tight in cemeteries, and – it seems – government relaxed when it comes to environmental protection, there has been something of an outbreak of columbarium projects across Hong Kong recently.

    These include one at Ma Shi Chau, an island in Hong Kong Geopark. Also at Po Toi, which I visited yesterday, and took these photos:

    po toi columbarium

    and (from a little lower down, looking up):

    po toi columbarium

    I'd earlier received an email, forwarded from Lands Dept, which said work had halted here in Feb:






    (陳仕波    代行)

    via google translate:

    Columbarium matters related to: Po Toi violation

    Following the Lands Department interim reply to you on March 13 this year, theDepartment is detailed reply is as follows. In February this year the receipt of thecomplaint has been sent to the site inspection confirmed that the matter involved themajority of the site involving multiple leased land (commonly known as "private land")and related to land a concrete slab and trees have been cleared, the Departmentmoved for surveying and mapping personnel to clarify the boundary of the land area, and to gather information to owners. According to statistics, most on private land, land leases for agricultural purposes, on-site findings (including a concrete slab, etc.), inlegal advice, have been the owners issued a notice that the matter involving land in violation of the structures of the lease, the owners need to stop all works and to rectifythe breach of the lease, the Department is close follow-up event. As for the lessamount of government land, the Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance posted notices subsequent to the occupation of government land has been stopped.

    Islands District Lands Officer

    I've just emailed a few interested people, saying:

    I went to Po Toi yesterday; first time since autumn.

    Shocked by extent of columbarium, and work for it.

    Trees had been cleared up small valley, leading up from the area that I'd seen indicated in newspaper; some concrete areas added there, plus some areas just empty and apparently awaiting more slabs. Cigarette butts n water bottles etc made it look to me as if work had been happening a few days before, rather than stopped in Feb; but I don't know.

    – this valley is/was among the best sites for migratory landbirds; and Po Toi is in turn one of the prime sites if not THE prime site for migratory landbirds in Hong Kong – with remarkable variety of migrants including at least one that's globally near threatened.

    Also striking: such a lot of work has occurred, yet govt so late in tacking action (again! – cf Sai Wan where the guy made inroads towards his golf course; the Ma Shi Chau columbarium…). Might there be improvements w CY Leung?



    Had a reply to my email from someone familiar w Po Toi case, who commented:

    I agree with most of this but I think you're being a bit unfair to Lands Department.


    The work didn't start until late December last year, it wasn't really clear what was happening until late January, the publicity started in Febraury and the restriction was announced on 27 February and made formal on 3 March – quite fast for an administartive procedure. The work was stopped on 29th February and none has happened since.


    The work was very shoddy and done quickly, it will similarly fall apart quickly as nature takes it's toll. The only real problem is the small heavy slabs placed on the concrete. These need removal.

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