KUCHING: The public have been strongly advised not to play with the Kong Ming Deng lantern (sky lantern) during the Mooncake Festival.

Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng stated this after a ceremony to light lanterns at the iconic cat statue in Padungan on Wednesday.

“We are going to have a gathering in conjunction with the Mooncake Festival at Friendship Park on Sept 13 (today) and will also be giving out lanterns to children.

“Therefore, we appeal to the public to join us as well in celebrating this multi-racial festival.”

Wee requested the public not to light up sky lanterns following complaints as they are a fire hazard.

He noted that the enforcement personnel and the police would be present to monitor the festival, while “the usage of small lanterns are fine, just not the big ones that fly up into the sky and drops down when there is not much oxygen in the higher atmosphere.”

“Friendship Park is surrounded by housing estates and we do not want to see anything untoward happen when celebrating this festival because we want the public to enjoy and have fun.

“If there are people spotted playing with the sky lanterns, we will stop them immediately as it is illegal to do so,” he said.

Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian also mentioned that the cat statue had always been the mascot of Kuching and not just MBKS.

“Every festive celebration, we always dress up and decorate the cat as it symbolises our multi-racial harmony.

“And this time, the lantern festivals in Sarawak are unique as there are various type of lantern festivals across the state such as the celebration going on at Carpenter Street, Batu Kawa and so on.

“This festival is a platform for all the races to come and celebrate together,” he said.

This year, MBKS has decided to light up Padungan with lanterns thus, they are put up for the Mooncake Festival.

Wee further added, “We are trying to create the mood of our festive season. As Datuk Sim said, there is a food fair happening at Carpenter Street and on this end, we have all the lanterns put up.

“If you noticed, it is linked from Padungan’s lantern lights all the way up to Carpenter Street’s celebration.”

Also present were MBKS deputy mayor Hilmy Othman, councillors, community leaders and the public.