The government should set up special areas for people to let off fireworks to celebrate traditional Chinese festivals, a member of the Heung Yee Kuk, which represents villagers, said yesterday. Tang Kam-leung warned villagers in the New Territories might ignore the fireworks ban to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Goat and Chinese Valentine's Day on February 15. 'It is a traditional practice and helps enhance the festive atmosphere. Many villagers, especially elderly people, believe that lighting firecrackers can ward off evil spirits and ensure good fortune for the rest of the year,' he said. Mr Tang opposes the relaxation of the law and wants heavy penalties to remain. But special areas should be set up for people who have obtained a permit to set off firecrackers and fireworks. Last year, villagers from Shui Tau Tsuen played a CD recording of firecrackers to celebrate the Chinese Valentine's Day and the birthday of Hung Shing Kung, the God of the Sea. Firecrackers and fireworks, except for officially organised celebrations, were banned in Hong Kong soon after riots in 1967. Police have arrested five men and a woman and seized 2,590kg of fireworks worth $1.3 million in Yuen Long this month - three times more than the figure for the whole of last year. Deputy Yuen Long district commander Senior Superintendent Yip Suen said the rise in seizures followed stepped up vigilance. Mr Yip said the crackdown was aimed at preventing people recklessly using firecrackers and endangering the lives of others. Customs officers at the Lowu Control Point yesterday seized 2.14kg of assorted fireworks from the rucksack of a woman, 38, returning to Hong Kong. She was charged with storing dangerous goods.