KUALA LUMPUR: Police yesterday announced an immediate ban on the release of Kong Ming or hot-air lanterns.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai said the move was for the safety of the public and those who defied it would be charged and were liable to be fined and imprisoned under Section 285 of the Penal Code and Section 5 of the Explosives Act 1957.
“The move was taken after I discussed the issue with several parties, including the Penang government.
“The ban only covers the Kong Ming lanterns while others like the hand-held ones are still allowed for the Chap Goh Meh festival,” he said after delivering his message to police personnel in conjunction with the 13th Non-Aligned Movement Summit at the Police Training Centre here yesterday.
Last Saturday, about 10 of the hot-air lanterns landed on the Penang International Airport runway, and aviation authorities had to direct several flights to approach the airport from the south rather than the north.
The incident prompted Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to announce a ban on the lanterns on Wednesday. He also directed Norian to discuss with the Penang government its request for permission to release the lanterns over the Esplanade during Chap Goh Meh tomorrow.
A Kong Ming lantern, Norian said, could reach a height of about 1,800m and a plane could explode if such a lantern was sucked into its engines.
He said these lanterns could start a fire if they fell on the roof of wooden houses and could also cause explosions if they fell on petrol stations, ammunition dumps and storage places for combustible materials.
Norian said the ban on the release of the lanterns had been implemented in Singapore and Hong Kong.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik said he respected Abdullah's view on the need for safety.
“The police must have considered every angle for safety, of aircraft and houses, that was the prime concern,” Dr Ling said at the Selangor MCA's open house in Klang last night.
He hoped all parties would respect the decision made in the interest of the people.
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