Don’t mull over tougher measures on fireworks – jail the culprits!

The Consumers’ Association of Penang congratulates the Customs and Excise Department and the Police for the intensive nationwide crackdown on the smuggling and sale of fireworks and firecrackers.

This clearly shows that if enforcement is beefed up, smuggling of such contraband can be curbed.

In a media report today, the Customs Department intelligence Director, Datuk Ismail Ibrahim was quoted to have said that a heavier penalty, instead of the usual RM100 minimum compound for those caught for fireworks offences, will act as a deterrent.  CAP fully supports this long overdue move.

For more than two decades, CAP has been calling on the authorities to impose heavier penalties on offenders including jail sentences.

The ever occurring and increase in incidences of smuggling, distribution and the sale of firecrackers and fireworks can only be stopped through strict enforcement and with the cooperation from the public not to buy the contraband.

Under section 4(2) of the Explosives Act 1957, anyone found to be manufacturing, possession or importing firecrackers and fireworks can be jailed not less than five (5) years or fined RM10,000 or both.

The violation of the existing laws to curb the blatant smuggling, distribution and sale of the contraband is obviously not taken seriously by the offenders.

Hence, the laws should be amended to also include the following:

1. A mandatory jail sentence for smugglers including the confiscation of his or her property and assets;

2. The vehicle in which the contraband is found should be confiscated and auctioned off.

The peoples’ brave, open and free indulgence in playing with firecrackers and dangerous fireworks also goes to show that the police are unable to stop them.  Firm action should also be taken against people caught playing with the firecrackers and fireworks.  Hefty fines and jail sentences should be imposed on retailers and people caught playing with the firecrackers and fireworks.  Parents whose children are caught buying and playing with firecrackers and fireworks must be made responsible for their children’s acts.

Neighbourhood watch groups to report on activities in their area should be formed.  People should not be afraid to report on their neighbours if they are found to possess this banned contraband.

Letter to the Editor, 26 August 2010