MBKS mulls using drones to monitor irresponsible releasing of sky lanterns

Wee (in white) greets a trader during his visit to Kenyalang Market.

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By Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Sept 14: If situation warrants, Kuching South City Council (MBKS) will use drones next year to monitor irresponsible people releasing sky or flying lanterns during mid-Autumn celebration.

Newly-appointed MBKS mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng said he has set a one year period to prepare, gathering information and feedback from various authorities and the community.

Speaking to reporters after his walkabout at Kenyalang Market this morning, Wee said they may even look into banning the sale of such lanterns, for the benefit and safety of the public.

“Although the numbers of flying lantern has reduced tremendously this year due to the presence of enforcement officers, there were a few naughty residents who actually released the lanterns after they left the vicinity they were patrolling.

“It is an offence under the aviation law. It is illegal to fly these lanterns. Those found doing it can be fined and jailed under the Penal Code,” he cautioned.

Wee (right) greeting traders at Kenyalang Market.

According to the recent information gathered, Wee said a person who flew a drone had spotted 33 lanterns in the sky.

Flying such lanterns during mid-Autumn celebration is a potential fire hazards to houses and buildings, as well as creating rubbish pollution when these lanterns land. It also posed danger to the aircraft, he reminded.

These dangerous devices use a small flaming object to inflate and loft a plastic or paper balloon, like a hot air balloon but on a much smaller scale.

The heated air in the lantern is lighter than the surrounding air, causing the lantern to rise. If things doesn’t go as planned, the sky lantern settles to the ground, trapped in a tree, or lands on a roof, he continued.

“The latest spot where these people release such lanterns are located around Saradise area. This is even more dangerous because it is so near to Kuching International Airport.

“We found out that majority of these people are those from residential area. I urge parents to be responsible and they must look into things like this seriously. The lanterns will drop and litter the surroundings. Or worse, it may drop to your own house and causes fire.”

With the usage of drones, he also hoped that nobody will end up being taken to court over these lanterns next year.

“I would like to advise everyone, that festive season is meant to be a happy occasion. So do the proper and right thing,” Wee said. — DayakDaily