Malaysia: minister defends Sarawak casino proposal

A new casino resort could be developed in the Borneo Highlands.
A new casino resort could be developed in the Borneo Highlands.

Sarawak’s tourism minister has responded to criticism from Muslims who oppose the creation of a casino at Borneo Highlands Resort.

Malaysia.- The tourism, creative industry and performing arts minister for the state of Sarawak, Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, has defended plans for a casino at Borneo Highlands Resort. The proposal has faced objections from some Muslim residents.

The minister told reporters at his Hari Raya open house that there was nothing wrong with setting up a casino at the resort since Sarawak was not only for Muslims. He said that as a Muslim, he would not go to the casino himself, but stressed that the integrated resort will also have an amusement park and golf course.

Karim questioned the objections of Sarawak PAS commissioner, Jofri Jaraiee, who has warned that the opening of a casino would lead to gambling addiction and the collapse of the family institution and society. 

Jaraiee’s objections were based on the view that gambling is “haram” (forbidden) in Islam, but Karim pointed out that gaming such as Magnum and Toto was already operating in the state and would therefore have to be opposed on the same grounds.

The Borneo Highland Resort is expected to be a significant stimulus for tourism development in the state, attracting both domestic and international tourists. The state government has yet to decide whether to approve the proposal for a casino. However, Karim’s comments suggest that the government is open to the idea, despite objections. Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg will make the final decision.

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