Najib Rejects Legalising of Football Betting

By Adib Zalkapli
Datuk Seri Najib Razak capitulated to popular public opinion tonight when he announced the government will not issue a football betting licence, weeks after tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan said his Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd had received approval for an old licence.

"After taking into account various views, we are of the opinion that the majority did not agree the decision to issue the license to Ascot Sports," he said after chairing the Umno supreme council meeting here.

"The government therefore decided that the license will not be issued," said the finance minister adding that Ascot Sports has been informed of the decision.

He said the withdrawal was supported by members of the Umno supreme council.

Najib said the government had earlier agreed to issue the sports betting licence but with strict condition such as banning Muslim involvement in the activity.

On whether Ascot Sports would be compensated Najib said there is no such requirement in the law.

"Under the act, the minister of finance can withdraw anytime," said Najib, declining to say when the decision was made.

He also hoped that Barisan Nasional (BN) component party members such as MCA and MIC who have supported legalised sports betting to accept the government's decision.

Several Barisan Nasional (BN) parties had supported the move but Umno Johor, Perak and Youth wing opposed the licence saying the social cost outweighed the possible tax revenue.

Tan's listed Berjaya Corporation Berhad had announced the approval in a filing to Bursa Malaysia last May 12 but Najib denied it in Parliament on June 7.

Pakatan Rakyat governments in Penang, Selangor and Kedah said they will not approve business licences for football betting although Tan said he will try to persuade them.

He had promised to donate the RM525 million for his share of Ascot Sports sold to Berjaya Corp to his own charity, Better Malaysia Foundation.

Apart from saying that football bets will be offered through the telephone and available at 220 out of the 680 Sports Toto outlets which are not Muslim majority areas, Tan said operations would begin after the current FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi claimed two weeks ago that Ascot Sports will offer betting services for four major leagues — the English Premier League, the Italian league, as well as the Spanish and German leagues.

Nasrudin said that the sports betting company could not prepare itself to serve the World Cup because it was “too soon”.

PAS had also vowed to mobilise Malaysians to join its “100,000 march” to the Istana Negara this July 3 in protest over the Najib administration’s legalisation of sports-betting.

DAP’s Tony Pua claimed earlier this week to have documents to show companies controlled by Tan were proceeding with plans to start offering football betting by August and were raising RM800 million to finance operations.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP told reporters in Parliament that on June 11, four days after the Finance Ministry had denied issuing any licence for football betting, Berjaya Sports Toto had issued an “information memorandum” detailing financing arrangements to raise RM800 million in loans for a period of ten years to finance its new business.

Berjaya Sports Toto is a subsidiary of Berjaya Corporation, and currently operates numbers forecast betting shops in peninsular Malaysia.

According to documents obtained by Pua, the principal adviser for the financing arrangements was Maybank Investment Bank Sdn Bhd, and lead manager AmInvestment Bank Berhad.

“They repeated the statement that Ascot Sports had been given approval for the reissuance of licence to carry out sports betting operations upon certain terms and conditions.

“They reiterated they have received approval. They stated that initially 220 of the Sports Toto outlets will be used as distribution points with expansion plans to accommodate more Sports Toto outlets in the future. The implementation was to be carried out in August or early September, in time for the EPL (English Premier League),” said Pua.

Another document produced by Pua was a credit analysis by MARC (Malaysian Rating Corporation Berhad) on Berjaya Sports Toto.

A rating agency is usually needed to determine the “quality” of a loan.

The MARC report states that “the timeframe for the rollout of the sports betting games are yet to be finalised.”

“MARC has assigned AA- rating to this exercise to raise money by Berjaya Sports Toto and among the contributory factors to the AA-rating is stated on page 4, under recent development following a recent announcement (that it is) yet to be finalised.

“Basically, what we see is that the approval has been given, but the actual licence has not been given.

“As Finance Minister, Najib needs to rectify this... It has now become a stupid play of words,” said Pua.

Najib is Going for "Surprise" Election Strategy

The prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that parliament will not be dissolved just because he recorded good points at a recent popularity survey. He also said that the date of the election would however be a surprise and that many factors need to be considered before it could be decided.

He said “I cannot say one way or the other. If it (general election) happens, it will be a surprise. What is important is to work hard in the spirit of 1Malaysia. Barisan must first concentrate on strengthening itself before calling for a general election and could not depend on one survey to decide when to call for the next general election.” This came in the wake of the comment by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former prime minister who called on Najib to call for an early general election since he is currently enjoying the highest ratings in the popularity survey organized by Merdeka Centre.

Buy-Malaysian Campaign is Not Protectionism

KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — The “Buy Malaysian” campaign should be seen not as a protectionist policy of the government but as an effort to spur the private sector to be globally competitive, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.

He said the campaign helped to project competitive Malaysian goods globally and drive local companies to raise productivity and be innovative as well as globally competitive.

Najib was launching the 2010 “Buy Malaysian” campaign at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), here.

Also present were Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Deputy Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim.

Najib, who is also finance minister, said some people might see the campaign as a government measure to protect domestic industries.

However, he said, the campaign was part of government efforts to promote domestic brands and products among the Malaysians who, at times, were inclined to buy foreign goods.

Najib said the people should understand that local companies must be encouraged to build up a domestic market to spur them onwards to a regional or international market.

Without being able to sell to a domestic market, it would be difficult for these companies to progress to an export market.

“Once they have captured the domestic market, it will be easier for them to move on to the export market because they will have a strong domestic base,” he said.

Jemaah Islamiah’s influence is growing in Malaysia

TUMPAT June 16, — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak wants authorities to tighten security to prevent Jemaah Islamiah (JI) from influencing students and taking root in the country.

He said the spread of JI ideology, if unchecked, would pose a threat to national security.

“We must be wary of JI threat to recruit students. They can be coerced into committing violence by militant and extremism thinking,” he said after a “Pemimpin Bersama Rakyat’ programme at Wat Matchimmaram, Kampung Jubakar near here today.
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Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein yesterday said JI had made efforts to recruit local university students as members.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said foreign JI members tried to revive the militant group by trying to recruit youths including university students.

Najib said it was proven that JI spread not only among students but also lecturers.

“A lecturer involved with JI had been known to explode bombs. We have to tighten security via intelligence reports to check the menace,” he added. — Bernama

Najib's credibility should not be doubted: Pak Lah

KEPALA BATAS: All quarters should stop questioning Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's credibility as he has undertaken several sound measures and policies for excellent administration and development to benefit the people, said Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Some of Najib's efforts and policies have already shown good results or impact on the people and country, the former prime minister said at the opening of the Penang-level Unity Week at the Industrial Training Institute here, Sunday.

Also present were Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and National Unity and Integration Department director-general Datuk Azman Amin Hassan.

Abdullah, who is also Kepala Batas MP, said Najib had introduced a strong 10th Malaysia Plan and six National Key Result Areas, while Malaysia had been placed among the top 10 most competitive countries.

"Except Malaysia, there is no other country in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and Non-Aligned Movement in the top 10 list. This is a good thing and therefore, there is no need to doubt the prime minister's credibility as a leader," he said.

Abdullah also urged the people to uphold the spirit of unity and solidarity to ensure smooth implementation of the country's development projects and programmes.

PM rolls out RM230b 10th Malaysian Plan

The prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the 10MP (Tenth Malaysian Plan) today at parliament, a 5 year development plan to help the country curb its falling deficit as well as to reduce the subsidies. He forecasted that the average economic growth of the country will grow at 6% over the next 5 years with fiscal deficit will be reduced by 2.8% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The government will be allocating some RM230billion for the development plans where 55% will be allocated for the economy, 30% for social, 10% for security and the rest for general administration.

The plan will be focusing on 12 NKEAs (National Key Economic Areas) which are perceived as high income generators. They are (i) Oil and gas; (ii) Palm oil and related products; (iii) Financial services; (iv) Wholesale and retail; (v) Tourism; (vi) Information and communications technology (ICT); (vii) Education services; (viii) Electrical and electronic; (ix) Business services; (x) Private healthcare; (xi) Agriculture (xii) Greater Kuala Lumpur.