Case closes after 15 years

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 06 Aug 2006

PETALING JAYA: Finally – 15 years later – there is closure for victims of the Bright Sparklers fireworks factory explosion in Sungei Buloh, Selangor.  

Many would have forgotten the tragic event by now and even the judge who chaired the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the blast that flattened the factory and killed 22 people and injured 103 on May 7, 1991, has passed on.  

FLASHBACK: The Star frontpage on May 8, 1991, showing the devastation at the Bright Sparklers fireworks factory. A visiton Aug 4, 2006, by The Star showed a spanking new factory – San Soon Seng Food Industries – (main picture) standing atthe factory’s site, erasing all signs of the tragedy of May 7, 1991.

Finally, the Government has made a payout of RM954,685. 

The 118 people, who sued the Government after they lost their loved ones, suffered injuries and damage to their property in the incident, received a lump sum of RM30,000 from Chin Kong Hin, who was a director of Bright Sparklers Sdn Bhd, which went out of business soon after the tragedy. 

The global payment by the Director of Selangor Lands and Mines Department, the Petaling District Council and the Government of Malaysia – the second, third and fourth defendants, respectively – was made without admitting liability and as full and final payment for general and special damages and interest. 

The first settlement, involving one plaintiff represented by S. Kanagasabapathi, was recorded before Shah Alam High Court Justice Suriyadi Halim Omar on April 13. Two other settlements were recorded on May 22 and the remaining three on June 22; Jessica Binwani represented the plaintiffs in these suits. 

The payments were in respect of claims for dependency, personal injury and property damage. 

In confirming the settlements, Binwani, counsel for 117, said there had been no settlement as yet from Chung Kin Chuan, the other Bright Sparklers director named in suits, or from the company itself. 

Asked whether the suits against Chung and the company would proceed, Binwani said the company was no longer in business but Chung, who had been declared bankrupt, had since been discharged. 

The suits were filed after a Royal Commission of Inquiry was held before a three-man panel chaired by President of the Court of Appeal Justice Tan Sri Wan Adnan Ismail (who was a High Court judge then).  

The inquiry findings were: “Bright Sparklers Sdn Bhd is responsible. Its management knew they were carrying on a dangerous operation. 

“They had violated so many laws for which they and their executives must not escape prosecution.” 

However, no one was ever prosecuted in relation to the personal injuries/ property damage suffered or the loss of lives of the factory workers, neighbouring residents, passers-by, family and friends who had rushed to the site to help after they heard the first blast and saw the billowing smoke. 

A spanking new factory – San Soon Seng Food Industries – now stands on the site of the tragedy.  

Other factories have come up around the site and double-storey houses are being built between the old houses.  

There is nothing to show the devastation that shocked the nation 15 years ago. Even the curious residents who gathered around The Star team weren’t even born when the explosions occurred, but the memories linger for those who lost family members or who have to live with injuries that continue to hurt them. 

Related Stories:Survivor’s life changed forever from that day Hazmat units formed after fire at factory Retired HM still feels the loss of heroic son 

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