Fireworks are a major part of celebrations in Singapore and Malaysia.
But fireworks have been banned in Singapore since 1972, and in Malaysia since 1955, although the ban in Malaysia was more theoretical than actual.
While fireworks in Malaysia have never really gone away, they were always distributed via shadowy back channels where someone you knew had a friend who knew someone who was selling fireworks.
Clearly this black market was sufficient to arm much of the population with something to welcome in any of the various new years that one might celebrate in Malaysia, as evidenced by this video of someone flying over the country during Chinese New Year in January 2023 — while it was still illegal to use fireworks.
Each bright pop is a household who knew a guy who knew a guy.
Kun captured the chor 8 fireworks on the plane the scenery wow Malaysia is this beautiful pic.twitter.com/mUVcbgp0C0
— mich (@TYahjussi) January 30, 2023
Relight my fire
But since the February 2023 announcement by Malaysian minister of local government development Nga Kor Ming that Malaysia would legalise fireworks, there was a sense of anticipation mixed with dread about how future festive periods would look like.
Let’s be clear, if everyone in Malaysia was irresponsible in their use of fireworks, then most of the country will likely burn down.
So, this is certainly a case of a minority of bad actors spoiling things for everyone.
But you don’t need that many bad actors or fireworks mishaps for things to take a very tragic turn.
In the age of social media and TikTok, it is much easier to spot irresponsible users and sellers of fireworks, and cringe at the hilariously dangerous nature of the situation.
Malaysians are nothing if not sanguine, as evidenced by residents of high rise blocks.
In one video, a resident launches fireworks from the window of their high rise flat, shooting a rocket out into the space between buildings.
@abdulsbxl2u Please tlg ambil tindakan sblm ada org mati dari heart attack ke ape. 🙏🏼 Kuai sgt suara dia dan kdg2 main kat 12am, 2am. #cyberjaya #thearccyberjaya #cyberjayaresident #pdrmmalaysia #pdrm #malaysianupdate #viralvideo ♬ original sound – investigate
In another, a man casually lounges on the balcony of his apartment, enjoying a relaxing night out.
But clearly finding it too peaceful, he also launches a rocket from his apartment, facilitated by what appeared to be a pipe tied to the balcony railing.
Polis sedang mengesan individu bermain mercun di balkoni sebuah pangsapuri di Meru, Ipoh seperti tular menerusi rakaman video di media sosial.
📹 Orang awam pic.twitter.com/kmk7bLncRi
— BERNAMA (@bernamadotcom) April 18, 2023
High on your own supply
And who’s supplying everyone?
The Malaysian government has said it will only allow licensed sellers of fireworks, but there is still an abundance of rulebreakers, as evidenced by a recent arrest of over a hundred illegal fireworks sellers.
Free Malaysia Today reported on just one recent case, where 120 people were arrested and RM3.3 million worth of fireworks were seized.
They often operate at temporary market stalls, in less than safe circumstances, as shown by a recent fire at a fireworks stall, launching rockets into stalls across the street, while some onlookers continued to browse clothing.
Selamat hari raya semua 🔥 pic.twitter.com/UNBmE8cWBw
— keem (@AkeemSharyzal) April 17, 2023
Burning down the house
But should you be able to find some legal fireworks in Malaysia this week, you might choose to use them safely.
Perhaps not right next to your high-rise apartment, where sparks entered into residents’ flats, according to World of Buzz.
Ni better view. Its in my Condo. Bodoh takda obat ni!! pic.twitter.com/rzs5SIAgdU
— Zulhafizariq (@zulhafizariq) April 19, 2023
Or on the road, next to oncoming traffic. Next to a petrol station.
Stories you might be interested in
Top image via @AkeemSharyzal/Twitter, & @zulhafizariq/Twitter