KUCHING (March 23): Sarawak needs to be mindful of the possible harm a casino could cause should one be allowed to operate in the state, said Parti Bumi Kenayalang president Voon Lee Shan.
He opined while casinos could provide employment and bring tourists into the state, they could also bring much misery to locals.
“We have many lotteries in existence and this has given many problems to low income people. They spend their money on the lotteries, ignore food for their children.
“Besides that, gambling not only can destroy a happy family, but bring down an empire as well, while it encourages gangsterism and crimes too,” he claimed.
He also labelled gambling “a sickness worse than cancer”.
According to Voon, proposing to have a casino was a sign that the government lacked ideas on how to boost tourism and the economy.
“Sarawak should not take Singapore as its model to have a casino because Singapore has no other major means of income, except for its sea port and airport,” he said.
He suggested that instead of operating a casino, the state government should think how to help the poor put food on their tables and to boost the incomes of the people.
“Tell me, how many people can be rich by going to casinos? Those who could be rich are the operators sucking the blood of the poor who go gaming there.
“We thus do not want a government, ministers, members of parliament and Council Negeri who promote gambling culture in Sarawak,” he said.
According to him, if Sarawak could take back its oil and gas resources, Sarawakians could live like kings and there would be no need to think of casinos and lotteries as a source of income.
However, he said should a casino be allowed to boost the economy, all revenues collected should go to the Sarawak government.
“Not a sen from the revenues collected from the casinos in Sarawak should flow to the federal coffers because we do not want to be exploited by the federal government any more,” he stressed.
On Tuesday, Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the possibility of developing the area in Padawan into the country’s second Genting Highlands could not be ruled out.