PENANG police have been ordered to eradicate illegal gambling in the state for fear that gaming kingpins will fund political parties as the general election nears.
The order came from Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today who said, “I am not making an accusation, but I am raising a concern that this could happen”.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and MCA deputy president Dr Wee Ka Siong were recently engaged in a public spat over alleged illegal gambling activities in the state.
Wee singled out Penang and Selangor as the home of vice, but Lim denied illegal gambling was a problem in the Pakatan Harapan state.
“I want Penang police to use the law to wipe out illegal gambling in this state. This is my instruction from today,” Zahid said at a buka puasa event at the Southwest district mosque in Balik Pulau.
Zahid, who is also deputy prime minister, said the fight against illegal gambling would be the KPI (key performance index) for the Penang police.
“I want no more reports of illegal gambling and of kingpins behind these crimes.
“The Home Ministry and I will back you, have no fear,” he said, adding that he was happy with the performance of the Penang police in reducing crime under the leadership of police chief Commissioner Chuah Ghee Lye.
Zahid said he also did not wish to see racial stereotyping when it came to crime – such as by linking drug offences to Malays, gambling to Chinese and gangsterism to Indians.
Gambling, he said, was a social problem and he did not want the Chinese community to be victimised.
In Malacca recently, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) nabbed nine senior police officials for allegedly being on the payroll of illegal gambling den operators. After the MACC crackdown, many such operators had fled the state.
In his speech today, Zahid said Penang was the last stop for him, his ministry officials and the Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar during Ramadan.
He said the reception was among the best he had seen so far. Some 1,500 people, including orphans, attended the event.
“We have been visiting different areas, touching on various issues. Our main aim is the unity of the ummah, but we do not deny our friends from the other races.
“This is the beauty of Malaysia that is blessed with diversity that creates unity.
“I don’t want to turn this into a political event. But I want to say that if we all work together, a drastic change will happen. There will be light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.
Also present were Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed, Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican, Deputy Health Minister Dr Hilmi Yahaya, Penang Umno chief Zainal Abidin Osman and Pulau Betong assemblyman Muhammad Farid Saad.