Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said he will speak to Federal Finance Ministry counterpart Lim Guan Eng to stop the licenses for slot machines operations in Sabah.
“For gambling, I am very clear I will not allow it in Sabah. But the Ministry of Finance still issues licenses. I will meet Guan Eng later to tell him to stop giving licenses,” he said in reply to a businessman who wanted to know the State Government’s stand on an inter-faith coalition in Sabah urging the state and federal governments to ban mini casino and slot machine operations in Sabah recently.
Shafie was speaking to the ethnic Chinese business community ahead of the Sandakan parliamentary by-election due last Saturday. He said he did not want Sabahans to be involved in gambling activities when people are struggling to make ends meet. “When there are people whose salaries are between RM2,000 and RM3,000, I don’t want them spending it on slot machines while their children at home don’t have enough food.”
“You want to play mahjong, go ahead, but no money. I know mahjong is very important, it is like that in my hometown. But no gambling, slot machines or casinos. I won’t approve of that. Not in Sabah,” he stated, according to Malay Mail. He said should anyone hear of any gambling, they can send a message to his number and report it to him.
Several interfaith and Christian groups have spoken about the problem in Sabah where there are some 400 slot machines in 40 clubs. They don’t want Sabah to be known as a gambling state and asked the State Government to come up with a plan to gradually eradicate gambling activities.
An interfaith coalition comprising the Committee of Masjid Nurul Hikmah Bukit Padang, 12 Buddhist associations, Sabah Council of Churches as well as the Inter-Denominational Education Committee said that the State Government’s effort to impose a hike in taxes and duties will not deter such operations.
“With all due respect, we consider it immoral for the state or charities to raise money by exploiting people’s stupidity, greed, addiction and poverty. Taxing gambling is a regressive tax as the poor pay a greater proportion of their income in tax than the rich,” they said.
The Federal government still issues licenses for such operations, but also imposed a hike in slot machine taxes from RM10,000 to RM50,000 (USD 12,005) annually, and duties on profits made from these machines have been increased , but also imposed a hike in slot machine taxes from RM10,000 to RM50,000 annually, while duties on profits from slot machines increased from 20 percent to 30 percent.