Authorities on heightened alert for unapproved fireworks

PETALING JAYA: There shall be no sale of fireworks, even approved ones, over social media, says Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

Furthermore, the authorities will be on heightened alert for the sale and use of non-approved fireworks in Malaysia in the run-up to Hari Raya Aidilfitri, he said, also emphasising that minors are not allowed to buy them.

“The Home Ministry and the police will be monitoring the import and sale of fireworks and firecrackers under the Explosives Act 1957 and Explosive Rules 1923.

“We may have lifted the ban on fireworks and firecrackers to a certain extent, but we are always on the alert for those who bend or break the rules.

“As these are hazardous explosives if not handled properly, the Customs Department will ensure that only companies with permits are importing approved fireworks and firecrackers,” he said.

Saifuddin Nasution added that local councils must also play their role to ensure that only traders with permits are selling the items on safe and suitable premises.

“During festive seasons, all authorities and agencies involved are put on high alert as that is when these fireworks and firecrackers are in big demand,” he said.

The Home Minister said that even with the 30-day leeway to set off fireworks – usually starting from the day of the festival itself – only fireworks from two brands, Happy Boom and Pop-pop, are allowed to be brought into the country and sold during festive seasons.

He added that even before the Cabinet had agreed to legalise the lighting of firecrackers and fireworks early this year, a set of guidelines for the Import and Trading of Fire Crackers (Happy Boom and Pop-pop) for public sale in conjunction with festive seasons had been in place since 2020.

“These guidelines were already being enforced by the police four years ago. They are not new, but now, with the ban lifted, there will of course be more enforcement as there will be more open trading and demand for these items.

“The Home Ministry has approved 27 local companies to import, store and trade firecrackers, and this permit has to be renewed annually.

“All these companies have to prepare storage magazines, and these magazines must comply with the specifications set by the Home Ministry.

“As for the sales agents, the licensing comes from the police, and they too should have temporary safe-keeping storage. They are not allowed to sell the firecrackers to those below 18 years old, and they are also not allowed to sell them online,” said Saifuddin Nasution.

He also advised the public to buy from approved sellers and ensure their safety and the safety of others when playing with the firecrackers and fireworks during Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Earlier this year, the Cabinet agreed to legalise firecrackers and fireworks as long as sellers have the relevant permits from authorities.

Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming said then that control and licensing of fireworks would be imposed at the source, importers and wholesalers.

He said legalising firecrackers and fireworks will bring benefits to the country, including increasing revenue and improving safety.

Meanwhile, safety advocates argue that the public must be wary of the dangers of playing with firecrackers during festive seasons, even if it looks like a fun activity.

Alliance for a Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said despite the ban on firecrackers and fireworks being repealed to a certain extent, authorities must exercise more control over their use as the public still seems to be rather ignorant about the potential dangers.

“The public must be educated that fireworks and firecrackers are classified under Class 1 (Explosives) of the Hazardous Materials list.

“I was informed by the Fire and Rescue Services Department that while firecrackers only explode when they are lit, fireworks are quite unpredictable.

“This is why we cannot determine the characteristics of these hazardous materials. Usually, fireworks are handled by trained technicians, while smaller fireworks should only be handled by capable adults.

“The people should be aware of the consequences of playing with such hazardous materials, and I recommend authorities exercise more control, although it may be the festive season,” said Lee.

Director (Prevention) at the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry Azman Adam said trading of fireworks and firecrackers comes under the jurisdiction of police and local authorities.

“On our part, we only ensure that the items being sold are tagged with the proper prices and there is no profiteering.

“Should we suspect that the items on sale are illegal, then we would refer the matter to the police, customs and local councils,” said Azman.

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