Monday, May 24, 2010
PAS handed a memorandum to the Council of Rulers urging them to intervene in the government’s decision to legalise sports betting.
PAS vice president Datuk Mahfuz Omar (picture) presented the memorandum to the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, Engku Ibrahim Engku Ngah, at his office in Istana Negara, Wednesday.
“We urge that the meeting [of the Council of Rulers on June 26] be expedited because the government’s decision to issue this licence dishonours the Rulers as heads of Islam,” he said in a telephone interview with The Malaysian Insider.
In particular, he urged the current Raja of Perlis, Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail, to follow in the footsteps of his late father, whom Mahfuz said put up a strong fight against the legalisation of lotteries in the 1950s.
He added that sports-betting also went against Islam as the official religion of Malaysia and was contrary to the values of other religions as well.
Mahfuz said Tan Sri Vincent Tan’s plans to use Sports Toto branches to conduct sports betting during the 2010 World Cup would give ample opportunity for the people to gamble, and joked that this was, “1 Malaysia, semua berjudi” (1 Malaysia, everyone betting).
“People of all ages will gamble... because everyone is a fan of football. Supporters of a particular team will bet on their team,” he said.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had earlier issued a sports betting licence to Tan’s Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd, which Berjaya Group — also controlled by Tan — is expected to take a 70 per cent stake in.
The move has been widely seen as an attempt to replenish state coffers, already suffering from a wide deficit, ahead of the 2010 World Cup in June.
According to one Reuters report, the sports betting business in Malaysia could be worth between RM612 million and RM8 billion a year.
Last Friday, PAS organised demonstrations in various parts of the country to protest the move and are planning to hold a rally on July 3 to urge the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to intervene in the matter. - MalaysianInsider.