After decades of vitriol over gambling, PAS has found itself in the defensive after Putrajaya had quietly restored the number of “special draws” for number betting companies to 22 a year.

The matter was raised in the Dewan Negara on Dec 28 by senator Liew Chin Tong, who pointed out that the 22 “special draws” were introduced in 1999 to raise funds for Nipah virus victims.

Following this, the Pakatan Harapan administration reduced special draws to 11 in 2019 and eight in 2018, on top of the three “normal draws” a week.

Liew urged the government to do away with “special draws” eventually.

Liew’s revelation had led to quick reactions by PAS leaders who pointed out that DAP, which Liew represents, have no intentions of doing away with gambling entirely.

For instance, PAS central committee member Mohd Zuhdi Marsuki alleged that 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.

In contrast, PAS’ position based on its Wawasan Induk Negara Sejahtera (Wins) policy was clear – the gambling industry must be eradicated by 2025.

“PAS has always stressed that gambling must be completely eradicated in Malaysia… This requires time because it not only involved licensed gambling but also unlicensed gambling and online gambling.

“Licensed gambling houses such as Genting casino or number forecast services such as Sports Toto, Magnum and Da Ma Cai are easy to be eradicated through the will of the government.

“However, unlicensed gambling and online gambling is different,” he said.

Zuhdi said that PAS’ Wins team will submit its proposal to abolish gambling to the federal government.

Khairil Nizam Khirudin

Meanwhile, PAS Youth chief Khairil Nizam Khirudin his movement was concerned over the increase in special draws while noting that the increase in special draws was to increase government revenue.

Khairil said that 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.

“To show how serious is our disagreement (with this development), 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 said.

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.  MKINI