Illicit firecracker market heats up as Tet nears in Vietnam

The illegal trade of firecrackers has emerged as a thorny issue in Vietnam as the Lunar New Year holiday is coming. The loud explosive fireworks are being sold both online and offline due to rising demand as the Lunar New Year, or Tet, festival is less than four weeks away. Tet begins on February 16 but people normally start preparing for it one week before that and celebrate the holiday during the week after the date. Lighting firecrackers was previously one of the common festive activities during the Lunar New Year in Vietnam. In 1995, the production, trade, and use of any type of firecracker were banned due to potential dangers and fire hazards. However, many people still neglect the law and use the explosives, especially during Tet. On the night of January 13, undercover Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters arrived at a shop selling decorative paper in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City. After the journalists said they wanted to buy some firecrackers, the shop owner, who was in her 40s, pulled out her phone and showed several videos of firecrackers. “This type of firecracker can be ignited remotely, costing VND2.1 million [US$92] apiece. Regular firecrackers sell for VND180,000 [$8],” the seller said, adding that a 30 to 40 percent discount was applied for bulk purchase. The products were sourced from Thailand and Cambodia, she continued. “Place an order and we will have it delivered. We don’t keep the firecrackers here in our shop,” she stated. At least three… [Read full story]

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