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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ministry: No police, customs link in fireworks racket


The Home Ministry today denied allegations that law enforcement officers are making a quick buck re-selling firecrackers and fireworks from the evidence locker, confiscated from smugglers, to the public at large.

“Accusations that illegal fireworks are procured from the departments’ (officers) are not true,” Deputy Home Minister Abu Seman Yusop told the Dewan Rakyat during Question Time today.

He said this in answer to a supplementary question from Ab Aziz bin Ab Kadir (PKR-Ketereh) on how fireworks seized during anti-smuggling operations are stored, how long are they in storage and whether the fireworks will be destroyed in the end.

Ab Aziz said that he is concerned that accusations point fingers at law enforcement officers as the culprits who are re-selling the seized fireworks to the public.

“When asked where they got the fireworks, some say from customs and the UPP (police anti smuggling unit).

“This shouldn’t happen as it smears the good name of our men in uniform,” lamented the PKR elected representative.

NONEAbu Seman (left) answered that the seized fireworks are governed by regulations that must be followed and must be kept as exhibits during the trial process until such a time as it is over.

In reply to Ab Aziz’s main question on why authorities failed to enforce the 1995 fireworks ban and stop smuggling of the pyrotechnic devices into country, the deputy minister professed that his ministry is powerless in the face of public apathy and geographic adversity.

“The land and sea borders of our nation are too vast and expansive, the ministry appeals to the rakyat to realise that the responsibility of stopping the smuggling of fireworks is a collective one and not ours alone.”

High demand provides great incentive

He explained that most fireworks and firecrackers in the market are smuggled in from neighbouring countries, the smugglers continuing to defy anti-smuggling operations by customs and police as the high demand in Malaysia is provides great incentive to traffickers.

“Driving the high demand for fireworks in Malaysia is our multicultural make-up, with our various and many holidays such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Deepavali, Chinese New Year and Christmas.”

While culturally only Chinese New Year calls for the use of fireworks, the cross-fertilisation of cultures in Malaysia has seen fireworks use expand to include other celebrations, with many turning a blind eye to the 1995 government ban.

All year long, booms and bangs of fireworks continue to evade the best efforts of enforcement agencies, though many say, they themselves are in cahoots with the fireworks-addicted public and the smugglers who profit from it.

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