By THE INTER-FAITH GROUP SABAH
COMMENT: Last year, it was a land mark event when for the first time, organisations of various faith in Sabah grouped together and in unison expressed their disgust over one common public issue.
From then on, the Inter-Faith group has been persistent in its call for the ban of slot machines in Sabah.
Today, we would like re-visit the historical moment by reminding all existing and aspiring politicians alike that we reject all slot machine operations in Sabah. We and the people of Sabah would like see that the gambling culture in the State is put to a complete stop.
We do not want Sabah to be known as a ‘Gambling State’.
We had repeatedly highlighted all the serious damaging consequences of slot machine operations on the community and we have also clearly expressed the need for precise and decisive public health policies in addressing the effects of gambling in the State.
In September last year, we were very pleased when the Sabah Government announced the ban on slot machine operations throughout the State. All district offices and municipal councils were directed to stop the renewal and issuance of trading licences for this purpose.
Effectively, starting from 1st January 2020, all licensing authorities should not renew nor issue anymore trading licences for the purpose of slot machine operations throughout Sabah.
It was a historical point in our history. After more than 30 years of uncontrolled operations and toxic consequences, we finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel towards a healthy public policy for our beloved Sabah.
Nevertheless, despite the ban, we know that many (if not all) operators continue to defy the previous government’s directive. We know that the operators are challenging the ban and have brought the matter to court. It is public knowledge that they filed for a judicial review against the ban and the matter is pending disposal in court.
We also know that certain Municipal Councils have ignored the previous State Government’s directive and continued to issue trading licences to some of the operators. The question is, how could these Municipal Councils blatantly ignore and go against the decision of the State Government?
At the same time the authorities seems to fail to see that, operators whose trading licences have not been renewed are essentially operating illegally. No slot machine operations should be going on at all at their premises. However, and to our dismay, we have found out that many, if not all, of the Clubs are in business as usual!
We are appalled and utterly disappointed with the attitude taken by these slot machine operators. Their complete disregard of the previous Government’s Order must not be tolerated at all.
Our hope is that all politicians aspiring to form the next Sabah Government respect and honour the majority of the people of Sabah’s wishes. We do not want anymore licences extended for slot machine operations in our State! This is a serious matter affecting the lives of the people of Sabah.
We want the next Sabah Government along with all relevant enforcement agencies to put this matter to rest once and for all.
* This Press Statement is issued by the Inter-Faith Group comprising of the Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh, Sai Baba Communities, Sabah Family Care Association, Faith Caring Home (I-Link Berhad) and other non-governmental organisations.