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.