PETALING JAYA: Despite the PAS-backed Perikatan Nasional government quietly increasing the number of “special draws” for 4D numbers back to 22 a year after Pakatan Harapan (PH) had reduced it, the Islamist party says it has not changed its stand on eradicating gambling.
PAS central committee member Mohd Zuhdi Marsuki said the party’s position, based on its Wawasan Induk Negara Sejahtera (WINS) policy, was clear – that the gambling industry must be eradicated by 2025.
A report in Malaysiakini today quoted him as saying that PAS had always stressed that gambling must be completely eradicated in Malaysia but this required time because it involved both licensed gambling, illegal ones and online activities.
“Licensed gambling houses such as the Genting casino or number forecast services such as Sports Toto, Magnum and Da Ma Cai are easy to be eradicated if the government had the political will to do so.
“However, unlicensed gambling and online gambling are different,” he said, adding that PAS’ WINS team will submit its proposal to abolish all gambling to the federal government.
The matter was raised in the Dewan Negara on Dec 28 by Senator Liew Chin Tong, who said the 22 “special draws” were first introduced in 1999 to raise funds for Nipah virus victims.
Following this, the PH administration reduced special draws to eight in 2018 and 11 in 2019, on top of the three “normal draws” held weekly.
Liew had urged the government to do away with these “special draws” eventually.
It is understood that these “special draws” are not governed by means of a government gazette. Instead, number betting companies only need an authorisation letter from the finance minister.
Commenting on this, Zuhdi alleged that Pakatan Harapan’s online activists were using the situation to cover up the fact that number betting companies can still collect bets three times a week.
The report said soon after Liew’s revelation, PAS leaders had reacted quickly by pointing out that DAP, which Liew represents, had no intention of doing away with gambling entirely.
It said PAS Youth chief Khairil Nizam Khirudin had expressed concern over the increase in special draws while noting this was intended to bolster government revenue.
Khairil said as an alternative, PAS Youth proposed that the government cooperate with government-linked companies to shoulder the cost of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
Unlike Zuhdi, Khairil said PAS Youth’s objective was to regulate and limit gambling.
“PAS Youth is seeking a meeting with the finance minister. We are ready to discuss the matter and find the best solution to increase government revenue while controlling and reducing gambling in the country,” he told the news portal.
Khairil also thanked Liew for raising the matter in Parliament.
“We are confident that DAP shares our aspiration to ensure Malaysia is free from gambling, which is haram in Islam. We urge leaders of DAP and other parties to work with us to stop gambling,” he said.