Bogor, Indonesia - Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has said a thorough study is needed to look at the impact arising from Malaysians gambling at Singapore's two integrated resorts (IRs).
He said such a study should be undertaken before any measure, including the imposition of a levy, is introduced.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin, speaking yesterday at the end of a four-day visit to Indonesia, was asked to comment on the proposal by Barisan Nasional Youth and the Johor Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) Youth that the federal government move to prevent outflow of funds to Singapore and social problems from setting in.
'If they choose to gamble, what business does the government have in preventing and so on? Is the imposition of the levy a reasonable move? This we have to study deeply. Or there are other initiatives that we can implement, to be looked at not only from the economic aspect,' Mr Muhyiddin said. He added that social and community leadership, and political parties, may have a role to play in tackling the issue.
Personally, he said, he would not encourage anyone to gamble in Malaysia or Singapore.
The government has no restriction on anyone going to Singapore to gamble - but there is a restriction on Muslims gambling in Genting Highland.
There have been several reports in Malaysian media recently about people being lured to gamble in the IRs through various means, including free transportation, food and pocket money.
Last month, MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong expressed concern over the increasing number of such 'free tours', saying that they were organised not only from Johor but also from as far north as Penang.
Another Johor state assemblyman, Datuk Tee Siew Kiong, claimed that some 3,000 Malaysians took buses to Singapore daily to gamble away RM7 million (S$3 million) at the IRs. He claimed that 30 buses made the round trip daily, with seven of those buses coming from Singapore.
Mr Muhyiddin yesterday said the study should look at whether the trend of people going to gamble in Singapore was temporary.
'From the social aspect, the implication is bad. This is because it involves a neighbouring country. We can't make hasty decisions, we have to study the short-term and long-term impact,' he said.
[Since M'sia has Genting, the attraction may be more than just the gambling. Maybe people are using the free transport to get to Sentosa or Downtown Singapore. But certainly, M'sia has every right to be concerned about its citizen and every right to try to do something about it. Just as when M'sian subsidised fuel inadvertently undermined SG's traffic control policy, we instituted the half- then three-quarter tank rule to reduce the instances of people crossing the causeway for cheap fuel. However, despite Genting attracting thousands of S'poreans to their casinos, SG govt had never attempted to curtail them.
Certainly, the opportunity to gamble either here or at Genting has always been opened to M'sian as long as they are not Malay. The IRs here are only a new option for the M'sia Malays. If the non-Malays are preferring our IRs, perhaps there are other reasons?]