Fireworks Ban Reiterated Ahead of New Year

Letting off fireworks during the upcoming Chinese and Vietnamese new year holidays will not be tolerated, Phnom Penh Municipal Gover­nor Kep Chuktema has reiterated, though this week vendors continued their sales of firecrackers in some of the city’s markets.

Kep Chuktema’s directive dated Dec 9 also bans gambling and religious parades during the Jan 26 to 28 festival, which will see the Chi­nese lunar calendar transition from the Year of the Rat to the Year of the Ox.

Municipal police chief Touch Naruth said by telephone Sunday that fireworks are a public nuisance and need to be stopped so that more people can enjoy the holiday.

“Explosive sounds are annoying and sometimes create fear in the public,” he said. “Our authority will strictly ensure that the implementation of the directive is successful.”

Sparklers, however, have not been banned, he said.

Phan Davy, Phnom Penh religious department director for the Ministry of Cults and Religion, said by telephone Sunday there are 42 Chinese and eight Viet­namese pagodas in Phnom Penh alone.

“It is important to tell them about the purpose of the municipal directive, and what they have to do on their New Year to avoid wrong actions,” he said.

Tiang Yehour, director of the Kwong Siew Chinese school, said lighting firecrackers or rockets to ring in the New Year is an old Chi­nese tradition, but not the only tradition to kick off the year.

“We have to obey the directive issued by the municipal governor. We can light sparklers, which are not explosive,” he said.

On Monday, among the red and yellow candles, toys, red tasseled ornaments and other Chi­nese New Year paraphernalia being sold at O’Russei Market, firecrackers had a discreet place.

One vendor, who asked not to be named, said selling fireworks is a part of the New Year tradition, and if she did not sell them she would risk losing customers who would also buy the various toys, incense and decorations that accompany some celebrations.

“Some customers come to buy all at once. If we don’t have one thing, such as firecrackers, they will find other vendors,” she said.

(Additional reporting by Tim Sturrock)

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