KUALA LUMPUR, May 13: PAS vice president Mahfuz Omar said that the decision to legalise betting for the coming World Cup season by prime minister Najib Razak was a grave injustice to the people.
"Najib's government has in fact victimised the people by making them habitual gamblers. Once gambling is legalised, more people will succumb to the habit and become addicted," said Mahfuz.
Deputy Finance Minister Dr Awang Adek Hussein had recently stated the government's intention to legalise gambling before the start of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa next month, arguing that the move was made to curb illegal gambling and to find revenue for the government.
“There will be many bookies placing bets on the matches anyway. Those who want to do it (gamble) will do it, whether it is legal or not,” he was reported as saying by the local media.
“The Government can benefit from it and use the revenue to develop sports.”
'There goes our football'
Mahfuz said that once a person had taken part in football betting, he or she would move on to other forms of gambling.
"They will end up as gambling addicts and begin to gamble in everything including the Malaysia Cup," said the Pokok Sena member of parliament.
He warned that efforts to develop sports in the country could be hindered by gambling which could attract bookies and match fixing.
"When these gamblers begin to affect the results of the Malaysia Cup and other leagues, there goes our local football," he added.
"In the end, our already low ranking in soccer would plunge, to be replaced with our high ranking as a gambler's paradise."
'Next: Berjaya to apply Halal logo?'
Mahfuz said as a direct result of legalising gambling, the UMNO-led government not only destroyed local sports but also the family institution and the people's income.
"At the same time, BN's crony Berjaya Group will be forking out huge profits," he said.
On a more sarcastic note, Mahfuz said Berjaya would perhaps apply for the Halal certificate from minister in the prime minister's department, Jamil Khir Baharom.
"As the UMNO-BN government has made gambling halal, may be we will see Berjaya Group applying for the halal logo from the Islamic Development Department (Jakim)," he quipped.