Fined for lighting candles

I saw this in the TODAY paper:

NEA fine overly harsh?

05:55 AM Oct 09, 2010

About two weeks ago, my sister and her group of friends gathered at the East Coast Park to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

They lit candles on a park table but their guileless fun cost them a fine of $500 by two officers from the National Environment Agency. In my opinion, these youngsters should have been let off with a warning as they were first-time offenders. The group cleaned the table afterwards. Was there a need for such a harsh punishment to be meted out?

Letter from Joyce Koh

[via TODAY]

While it is indeed wrong to light candles on a park table, a $500 fine is a little too much. It’s nothing to do with the offenders being youngsters, there shouldn’t be a student subsidy for fines. Lighting candles in park during Mid-Autumn Festival is no longer a common occurrence as compared to, say, ten years ago. Either people are less interested in the Festival or that they’re understanding that they are vandalizing public property.

I wouldn’t want someone to light candles on the table in my house. I would be even more offended if someone lights candles on my wooden table and leave the melted wax for me to clean. Incidentally most people do not clean up the candle wax after they are done having fun watching the candles melt in the parks. No one brings a utility knife for such occasions to scrap the wax off. Perhaps the authorities are concerned over this form of littering.

A punishment is justifiable but $500 probably isn’t. Perhaps some sort of mandatory community work would be a better punishment. As for the wax on the table, yes, get them to clean them up with a electrical iron and some paper.

Did you know today is lantern festival?

Well, today is Yuan Xiao Jie (元宵节) also known as Lantern Festival. It’s something that China celebrates and Singapore doesn’t because we combined them and celebrate it on this mid-autumn festival somehow. I don’t know how that came to our traditions. Lantern festival is celebrated as it is the first night (15th on lunar calendar) of the year with a full moon.

The Lantern Festival (traditional Chinese: 元宵節; simplified Chinese: 元宵节; pinyin: Yuánxiāojié or traditional Chinese: 上元節; simplified Chinese: 上元节; pinyin: Shàngyuánjié; Vietnamese: Tết Nguyên tiêu; Hán tự: 節元宵) is a Chinese festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar year in the Chinese calendar. It is not to be confused with the Mid-Autumn Festival, which is also sometimes known as the “Lantern Festival” in locations such as Singapore, Malaysia. During the Lantern Festival, children go out at night to temples carrying paper lanterns (simplified Chinese: 兔子灯; traditional Chinese: 兔子燈; pinyin: tùzidēng) and solve riddles on the lanterns (simplified Chinese: 猜灯谜; traditional Chinese: 猜燈謎; pinyin: cāidēngmí). It officially ends the Chinese New Year. (Source: Wikipedia)

I guess most would be having a good meal at home. This day marks the end of lunar new year, I hope my friends would have a good year ahead. Happy lunar new year, one last time!