I READ with great interest the letter published in The Borneo Post (Feb 7, 2023), from a number of doctors representing the Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA), Asia Pacific Paediatric Associations (APPA), Malaysian Society of Surgery of the Hand, Malaysian Society of Ophthalmology, Malaysian Health Coalition and Malaysian Medical Association.
The correspondents are not happy to learn from the Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming, that the Cabinet has decided to legalise firecrackers and fireworks in the country.
They urge that the ban be retained, and they have good reasons: they have treated patients brought to them with burns, cuts, lost fingers and damage to the eyes, including occasional cases of permanent disability or even death, caused by the inept handling of fireworks and firecrackers.
They added that for every child or adult who is injured, there are many traumatised family members.
There are several other good reasons that the good doctors have given in order to persuade the authorities not to uplift the ban, which has been in place in the country since 1955.
Do read the letter expressing the doctors’ collective concern for the safety of the children, if you could detach yourself from your handphone and survive for a few minutes today.
I fully endorse what the medical scientists have written. At the same time, I would be interested to see how the government will handle the process of regularising the import, the sale, the letting off of the fireworks and the firecrackers. They may have better reasons for the decision to uplift the ban.
However, pleasing the section of the community who tolerate the din and the smoke made by the explosion seems to me to please political constituents without so much thinking about the interest of the aged, the sick and the babies.
One type of firecracker explodes with a boom like a cannon shot!
On the evening of the last Chap Goh Meh, my family invited a couple of visitors from New Zealand to dinner at a ‘Rumah Asap’ somewhere in town. The meal had to be abandoned because of the din from the blast, barely 10 metres away from where we were sitting.
If the stall-keepers want to keep business, they should stop fireworks being let off practically beside the tables!
I, for one, will not go back to the place any time within the next festival period, unless the bomb is banned.
It is fair that we look also at the reason or reasons given by the minister to uplift the ban. It is said that to legalise and regulate fireworks and firecrackers, is to halt smuggling of exploding devices. A tax on the importation, sale or distribution of the devices will also bring some money into the government coffers, and according to the YB Nga Kor Ming, permitting fireworks will fulfil the ‘wishes of the Chinese community’.
This statement was attributed to the minister by the newspaper Oriental Daily, and The Borneo Post of Feb 4, 2023, quoted it.
In Hong Kong and in Singapore, the setting off of fireworks and firecrackers is banned, except if carried out in a designated place away from the populous locations.
Back to Malaysia. Details of regulations to govern the letting off of the firecrackers and the fireworks are not yet available to the public as of the date of submitting this article for publication.
Looking forward to a fireworks/firecrackers-free Hari Raya Aidilfitri in April and Gawai Dayak in June – sure?
Will the ban actually be enforced before the new standard operating procedure is adopted, or is it just a PR exercise to garner political support?
It is my hope that the government will reconsider the uplifting of the ban on firecrackers, or at least put the proposal on the backburner out of respect (a ‘Madani’ core value, remember?) for the old folks, the aged, the sick and the babies.