This Chinese New Year (CNY), Malaysians are bound to hear the sound of firecrackers or witness the skies light up with fireworks. Indeed, such sounds and sights are pretty common in our country during festive seasons, regardless of the celebration, be it religious holidays such as CNY, Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Deepavali or even national celebrations like Hari Merdeka.
However, did you know that most fireworks and firecrackers are actually illegal in our country? In fact, only two types are allowed, from the brands Happy Boom and Pop-Pop. Moreover, should you be caught igniting fireworks and firecrackers other than the two aforementioned brands, you may even face imprisonment of up to one month, a fine of up to RM100 or both!
So, why is this so? Well, let’s examine the relevant laws on the matter, shall we?
Most fireworks are considered “explosive devices”
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) clarified through its official website that the Malaysian Government does not allow “any form of igniting explosive firecrackers or fireworks” other than Happy Boom and Pop-Pop. Furthermore, Bukit Aman criminal investigation department director Abd Jalil Hassan was previously quoted as saying that these two particular firecrackers and fireworks are allowed because they did not contain explosive chemicals that could endanger safety.
Accordingly, fireworks are considered “explosives” under the Explosives Act 1957. Section 2 of the Act reads as follows:
Furthermore, if an individual is found to have manufactured, imported or even have in their possession fireworks or any of the explosives mentioned above, they face severe punishments under the Explosives Act 1957. If convicted, Section 4(2) of the Act prescribes imprisonment for a term of 5 years or a fine of RM10,000 or both.
The punishment is worse should the fireworks or explosives in their possession causes explosions that are “likely to endanger life or property”. Section 6 of the Explosives Act 1957 is as per below:
However, the government does allow for the ignition of a fireworks display or pyrotechnics during formal government events and concerts as well as events specially approved by the MOHA and Internal Security. Do note that the approval from the Ministry is a policy decision and the application is under the orders of other agencies like the Police (security), Fire Department (safety) and Public Aviation Department (air traffic) during ignition. The requirements for pyrotechnics are quite strict and the process of application can be found on MOHA’s official website here.
Minor Offences Act 1955
With that in mind, lighting up banned fireworks and firecrackers during festive seasons such as CNY is more often than not subject to the Minor Offences Act 1955 instead of the Explosives Act 1957.
Specifically, it is governed under Section 3 (5) of the Minor Offences Act 1955, which prescribes the following:
Therefore, if you’re planning to light up fireworks or firecrackers with your friends and family this CNY, make sure that they are products authorised by MOHA, ie from the brand Happy Boom and Pop-Pop. Setting off banned fireworks is not only against the law but poses a significant risk to your safety and the ones around you.