THE Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) regrets that the government has lifted the ban on 44 types of fireworks and firecrackers under the brand name Happy Boom Fireworks. Legalising these fireworks may allow illegal traders to camouflage banned firecrackers and fireworks under this brand and sell them openly.
On May 21, a boy in Besut, Terengganu, had five of his fingers blown off while playing with firecrackers. That was just two weeks from Hari Raya today. Early this year, in January, 34 people were injured by firecrackers at Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpur, during the Thaipusam celebration.
Allowing the sale of firecrackers and fireworks creates a greater demand and therefore encourages an influx of smuggled ones to come into the country. We urge the government to adhere to the Explo-sives Act 1957 and completely ban all fireworks and firecrackers.
Incidences of smuggling and the distribution and sale of illegal firecrackers and fireworks are a perennial problem and are escalating. They can only be stopped through strict enforcement and with the cooperation of the public in not buying contraband.
Under section 4(2) of the Explosives Act 1957, anyone found to be manufacturing, possessing or importing illegal firecrackers and fireworks can be jailed (not less than five years) or fined RM10,000, or both. How many people have been jailed or fined?
As such, we urge the Customs Excise Department and the police to institute a nationwide crackdown on the smuggling and sale of illegal fireworks and firecrackers.
CAP has been calling on the authorities to impose heavier penalties on offenders, including longer jail sentences, for more than two decades. We believe that if enforcement is beefed up, smuggling can be curbed and the outflow of ringgit can be arrested.
In May 2018, Kelantan Customs enforcement officers seized firecrackers and fireworks worth more than RM150,000 and arrested a lorry driver in connection with the case. In this instance, if the smuggling had been successful, those who later purchased the explosives would have violated the Explosives Act 1957 and the nation would have lost more than RM98,000 in taxes.
The violation of existing laws is a clear indication that the offenders are thumbing their noses at the authorities. If the authorities are reluctant to enforce the Act, then it might be more sensible to simply repeal it and save on the manpower of doing a half-hearted job.
MOHIDEEN ABDUL KADER
Consumers Association of Penang