Kedah faces legal backlash if it persists in enforcing gambling ban

As Menteri Besar, Sanusi cannot just do anything he likes as he is bound by laws he cannot ignore.

(The Vibes) – Kedah may be inviting legal suits if the state government insists on banning all 4D gaming outlets as it can be interpreted as illegal and tantamount to abuse of power.

The announcement by Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor that local city or districts councils will enforce a ban on the operations of all gaming shops in the state is an abuse of power by the state government, said DAP legal bureau chairman Ramkarpal Singh Deo.

New applications will be rejected while existing ones are allowed to operate, but their permits will not be renewed when the term expires.

To this, Ramkarpal, who is Bukit Gelugor MP, said Sanusi has no business in arbitrarily imposing a blanket rule on such applications purely based on his personal view that such gaming activities contribute to social ills.

This is also clearly dictatorship, he added.

Section 107(3) of the Local Government Act 1976 provides that a local authority has the discretion to refuse renewing such licences, but such discretion must be exercised within the confines of the law and certainly not arbitrarily, he said in a statement yesterday.

Ramkarpal said as gaming operators have been renewing their licences without problems over the years, they have a legitimate expectation that the same policy will continue.

This ban affects their livelihoods unless they fail to comply with regulations in force, which may justify the refusal to renew their licenses, he added.

“This is certainly not the case here as Sanusi has announced the state will not renew their licences based on his own personal beliefs, which he has no right to do.

“As Menteri Besar, Sanusi cannot just do anything he likes as he is bound by laws he cannot ignore.

“Denying operators the right to renew their licences in this case is akin to telling them that he will deny them their right to renew such licences even if they have complied with all the necessary rules and regulations simply because he wishes it.

“It is doubtful if Sanusi sought legal advice before making such an announcement as he would have been advised that he is abusing his power if he did.”

Ramkarpal said that the federal government must intervene in this decision as such an act is not only illegal but unnecessary, and can be challenged in court.

Aside from 4D gaming outlets, Sanusi yesterday said the state government will also restrict the sale of alcohol in public, and it will only be allowed to be sold to non-Muslim consumers.

“We want to make Kedah a gambling-free state because we are aware that gambling is the cause of the collapse of family institutions and the nation’s civilisation,” he said at a press conference.

Sanusi, who is also Kedah PAS deputy commissioner, said the ban on the sale of liquor in public would also be implemented on the duty-free island of Langkawi, as well as in rural areas on the mainland.