Sun, Mar 17, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet wants to better regulate fireworks industry

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Executive Yuan is studying the possibility of legalizing the production and distribution of certain fireworks and importing those considered highly hazardous and banned from domestic distribution in a bid to avoid fires and injuries, Cabinet officials said yesterday.

Addressing a press conference after a closed-door monthly public-security meeting yesterday afternoon, Cabinet Spokesman Chuang Suo-hang (莊碩漢) quoted Premier Yu Shyi-kun as saying that it is important to regulate the fireworks industry.

"The recent tragedy in Yenshui has highlighted the importance of public safety, which the government is obliged to safeguard," Chuang said.

Chuang was referring to a blast at an illegal fireworks factory in Yenshui, Tainan County, on Feb. 25 that killed six people including a 12-year-old child.

An initial investigation showed that the accident could have been caused by the careless construction of beehive rocket-launchers.

Yenshui is known for its annual parade when townspeople carry fireworks that shoot from beehive-like boxes to drive away evil spirits.

The parade is held on the Lantern Festival, which ends a 15-day celebration of the Lunar New Year. The accident took place one day before the festival began.

Ironically, while authorities have promoted the fireworks parade in Yenshui as a tourist attraction, certain fireworks, such as the beehive rocket-launcher, are banned from domestic distribution.

Chao Kang (趙鋼), director general of the National Fire Administration under the Cabinet's Ministry of the Interior, said that the administration will strive to make the management of the fireworks industry more efficient.

"In addition to stepping up crackdown efforts on illegal firework factories, we'll work on amending the Fire Prevention Regulations (消防法) to include the management of the industry," Chao said. "We're also considering importing those fireworks considered highly hazardous and banned from domestic production or distribution."

A proposal is expected to be presented at the next monthly public security meeting.

Meanwhile, Tsai Pi-yu (蔡碧玉), director of the ministry's Department of Prosecutorial Affairs, told yesterday's press conference that the ministry has made achievements in its one-month campaign against intellectual property rights infringements.

The program was initiated on Jan. 28 when the Cabinet designated this year as "intellectual property rights protection year" in the wake of Taiwan's accession to the WTO on Jan. 1.

Over the past month, Tsai said the ministry has seized counterfeit products worth NT$1.4 billion, doubling the amount recorded in the same period last year.

According to Tsai, the crack-down efforts focus on five locations that proliferate counterfeit products: illegal VCD manufacturing plants, counterfeit production syndicates, wholesalers or retailers at night markets and bazaars, on-line counterfeit product providers and customs.

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