In an exclusive joint interview, Minister of the Interior, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasudian, has unveiled a deep-rooted issue plaguing Malaysia’s political landscape for decades: the protection and cover-up of illegal gambling syndicates. The minister emphasized that these insidious practices have persisted for 70 years without undergoing any significant revisions, rendering them ineffective in combating the rapidly growing menace of online gambling.
Highlighting the outdated laws and regulations enacted seven decades ago to address gambling activities such as cockfighting, Saifuddin Nasudian expressed concern about their applicability in the digital age. “In this era of the Internet, every word and sentence of these laws remains untouched. How can we effectively combat online gambling activities?” he questioned.
The minister further disclosed that those complicit in providing political cover for local online gambling operations hold positions of influence and power. By accepting bribes, these individuals assist illegal online gambling groups in evading bans and legal consequences.
“It is those in positions of power and decision-making authority who must be held accountable if ordinary members of Congress or grassroots leaders are involved. Illegal gambling syndicates generate profits, which they then channel to government figures, ensuring their own safety,” revealed Saifuddin Nasudian.
Earlier, Saifuddin Nasudian had brought attention to the escalating prevalence of online gambling in the country and its connection to political protection. He reiterated that both the police force and the Anti-Corruption Commission have confirmed his statements, leading to their joint investigation into the matter of political cover-ups.
“When the police apprehend suspects involved in online gambling, they can only be prosecuted under the Minor Crimes Act, resulting in fines of RM50,000 or utility disconnections. However, this ‘business’ involves billions of ringgit,” he stated.
The minister highlighted the fact that the 1953 Public Places Gambling Act and the 1953 Gambling Act have remained unamended for 70 years, causing the police to solely prosecute illegal gambling suspects under the Minor Crimes Act.
“These two decrees were formulated to regulate cockfighting gambling activities, but now we are facing the emergence of online gambling. Every word in these decrees remains unchanged. How can we justify this?” c questioned.
In response to the pressing issue, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Datuk Seri Anwar, provided a written answer to Parliament, acknowledging the need for amendments to existing gambling laws. The Ministry of Finance is currently proposing revisions to the 1953 Public Gambling Act, the 1967 Pool Betting Act, the 1952 Lottery Act, and the 1953 Gambling Act, along with the Annual Betting Act. The objective is to strengthen the supervision and regulation of licensed gambling activities, including online gambling.
The government aims to pass the new legislation to comprehensively enforce and regulate licensed gambling and online gambling activities. By doing so, it hopes to eliminate political cover-ups and more effectively combat the growing threat posed by illegal gambling syndicates in the country.
As investigations unfold and the proposed amendments make their way through the legislative process, Malaysians eagerly anticipate concrete actions to eradicate the deep-rooted corruption enabling the unchecked growth of online gambling.