Cabinet decision to repeal ban on fireworks, firecrackers lauded

PETALING JAYA: Despite concerns expressed by the public that the Cabinet decision to repeal the 1955 ban on fireworks and firecrackers could cause harm to those setting them off, the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations lauded the move and said it would curb smuggling activities and keep Malaysian traditions alive.

Its CEO Saravanan Thambirajah said injuries related to the use of fireworks were usually caused by the use of homemade and modified ones.

He was commenting on Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming’s comments last Friday that the government had agreed to legalise firecrackers and fireworks to benefit the country, including increasing revenue and improving safety.

The Home Ministry will refine the guidelines, which involve the issuance of licences to sell them.

Nga also said imported firecrackers and fireworks would require the approval and verification by the relevant authorities, which will issue import licences to ensure the safety standards of all firecrackers and fireworks brought into the country.

He said there were incidents of injuries related to the use of firecrackers and fireworks in the past, and they were due to products not meeting safety requirements or standards.

Nga stressed that the policy change, which is expected to come into effect by Hari Raya Aidilfitri in April, did not mean the government is encouraging the setting off of firecrackers and fireworks daily.

Saravanan said: “If it is legalised and regulated, safety standards will be imposed for (the public) to safely light fireworks and firecrackers. Some people raised concerns because they are worried about children, which is fine. We often read and watch news of children being injured after playing with fireworks. But most of them were modified and self-made, such as meriam buluh (bamboo cannon). That is dangerous.

“We live in a multicultural nation where during every festive season such as Hari Raya, Chinese New Year and Deepavali, communities light fireworks to enhance the festive experience and to make it more memorable. To remove the ban and regulate it is the best option for all of us to have safe celebrations.”

Saravanan said the guidelines to be released by the authorities should prioritise public safety.

“A person below 18 years should not buy firecrackers as some of them may not understand the concept of danger. Children should always be supervised by at least one adult when lighting firecrackers, and traders should not set up roadside tents to sell them as people would park nearby, endangering pedestrians. All these are risks to the public in regard to their safety,” he told theSun.

Saravanan expressed hope that the public is aware of the dangers presented by fireworks and firecrackers so that everyone remains safe despite their proposed legalisation.

Alliance for Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said a guideline must be published for all parties to ensure their safety.

“The relevant authorities must do their homework to publish a guideline that involves the importer, seller and end-user so everyone adheres to the safety aspects. This will ensure no harm, such as losing fingers, will happen.

“We can expect more people will set off fireworks and firecrackers in the future after it is legalised.

“Everyone must be responsible as we do not want a repeat of any incident such as the Bright Sparklers Fireworks factory fire in May 1991, when a massive explosion there killed 26 people and injured over a hundred others,” he said.

Lee stressed the new guidelines must include when and where firecrackers are allowed to be set off, such as before midnight, at common grounds, playing fields and stadiums, adding that there must also be restrictions on children, and they must be supervised.

On Sunday, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Acryl Sani said Bukit Aman will wait for the Home Ministry’s policy regarding the legalisation of firecrackers and fireworks.

He said police are ready to abide by and enforce the guidelines that will be introduced by the ministry.

Legalising fireworks and firecrackers will curb smuggling activities, keep Malaysian traditions alive as well as increase revenue and improve safety. – Bernamapic