Friday, December 4

‘Sarawak serious in its fight against illegal gambling’

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KUCHING: Police have set up a special task force to tackle illegal cyber gambling in line with Sarawak’s firm stance in wanting to eradicate all illegal gambling activities.

The State Legislative Assembly heard yesterday that from Jan 1 to April 15 this year, police raided 276 cyber gambling centres, and this resulted in 66 illegal cyber gambling operators charged in court.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh said this in his winding-up speech in response to questions raised by Baru Bian (PKR-Ba’ Kelalan), Dr Wong Hua Seh (DAP-Repok), Ripin Lamat (BN-Lambir), Yap Hoi Liong (DAP-Dudong).

“I have responded to this issue during the last Dewan sitting. Illegal cyber gambling is not just a problem that is occurring in Sarawak, but rather it is universal in nature,” said Wong.

“I would like to stress and assure this august House that the state government is firm in its commitment to weed out all forms of illegal gambling. To tackle and to address this problem would require concerted efforts from other agencies such as the police, Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Corporation and local authorities.”

Meanwhile, the state DAP was not satisfied with Wong’s answers and called for a press conference at the Media Centre. The party described Wong’s answers as mere `bureaucratic textbook’ answers.

Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Kota Sentosa), who held the press conference with Chiew Chew Sing (DAP-Kidurong), Ling Sie Kiong (DAP-Piasau), said in 2013 the state assembly had amended the Local Authorities Ordinance to increase the penalty for operating illegal cyber gambling to RM500,000.

“The reason given then was that the local authorities needed it to combat cyber gambling. Six months later (today), he (Wong) gave us some useless answers in state assembly that it was the responsibility of the police.”

Chong, who is also Bandar Kuching MP, also pointed out that since amending the Local Authorities Ordinance, the cyber gambling problem had gone from bad to worse. This illegal activity is now not only happening in cities but also in second-tiered towns such as Bau and Lawas, where people of all ages, including children and the elderly, are lured into it.

“A slot machine is even found openly in a market under the jurisdiction of Kuching South City Hall (MBKS). The local authorities have failed miserably after being given the power to tackle cyber gambling,” said Chong.