Malaysian state wants gaming ban

After seeking to ban Western dance and pop music, Malaysian northern state of Kedah wants to phase out gaming houses, something the non-Muslims, especially ethnic Chinese, resent.

State Chinese Community Affairs Committee chairman Tan Wei Shu said although gambling was wrong in Chinese culture, the community would kick up a fuss if the local authorities shut down common gaming houses, reported a newspaper.

„Many of them are into betting numbers and buying lotteries. The existing gaming houses that are operating legally should be allowed to carry on with their businesses without threats of closure,“ he was quoted in the newspaper.

Kedah has a government headed by opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR) of which an Islamist party, Parti Islami SeMalaysia (PAS), is a constituent. Shu, who is also an executive council member (minister), emphasized that Kedah was a Pakatan Rakyat government, not a PAS government.

„Elected representatives should work towards making life easier for the rakyat (public), not harder. We should not scare people away. We must also not make people angry or we will lose support,“ he said.

Shu said this in response to state housing and local government committee chairman Mohamad Taulan Mat Rasul’s proposal to eventually phase out gaming houses in the state. Rasul belongs to PAS. He said the state government would get a feedback from the public and community leaders before banning all forms of gambling.

Kedah has sought to ban pop music and dance since the PR government took office in March this year. However, the other constituents of the alliance have resisted PAS agenda, generating a debate within the country.