Well, this is a tricky issue in Malaysia right now. Politicians take positions on it carefully, and when they do, it seems to be on political compulsion, rather than principled reason.
We think that a lot of people and politicians have got it all mixed up. It is not one religion against another, for no religion advocates gambling. Nor is it one race against another. For no race can possibly be for gambling. The argument should really be Regulated Gambling vs. Unregulated Gambling.
We'll start of with the obvious, which is that gambling is a bad habit for anybody to indulge in. In which case, why this furore over the PAS decision to stop the selling of lottery tickets in Kelantan?
Because, of course, of the fear that this will lead to erosion of non-Muslim rights in Malaysia. What next, the non-Muslims will wonder. Will they be forced to stop eating certain meats, or be forced to change their religion, or be forced to dress only in a certain way?
And so non-Muslims citizens, including those who do not support gambling, find themselves, inadvertently, trapped in Gambling's Corner. Because they are afraid that otherwise they may lose their right to live their lives in ways that they deem fit.
We do know one thing for certain, banning lottery tickets or closing casinos, will not stop gambling, no more than Prohibition stopped alcohol consumption in 1920's America. It will only drive gambling underground, into the waiting hands of crime syndicates, as Prohibition fuelled the rise of criminal organisations, including the ugly but much romanticised Mafia, in America.
We think we know why PAS did it, at this particular juncture. It was to strengthen their Muslim, and thus Malay support. Particularly before the General Election. DAP's Mr.Karpal Singh, Ms.Theresa Kok and others immediately wade in, to ensure the non-Muslims know they're fighting for them. And MCA, trying to go one-up on DAP, threatens to sue. Mr.Muhyiddin, more sure of the Malay Vote now after the recent by-elections, tries cunningly to pick up some non-Malay votes as well. In the end, we fear, it is all about scrabbling for votes. In most undignified manner.
No doubt, we will, after this analysis, be expected to deliver a solution. It would be simplistic of us to offer one. Because there is, in the end, thus far, no real solution to the problem of gambling. And it is made worse in Malaysia by political coloration.
PAS may have to accept, at least privately, that Regulated Gambling is better than Unregulated Gambling. And that there is never going to be such a thing as No Gambling.
DAP should not be fighting for the Individual's Right To Gamble. What fools they make of themselves! They should be advocating the preferrment of Regulated Gambling as opposed to Unregulated Gambling.
We will not be making suggestions to MCA or other BN parties as they only wish to pit Pakatan parties against each other, so that they may fish, for votes, in troubled waters.
For those who think they should vote for BN because of this issue, we ask them to remember BN's sins. Which we believe include, among many others, deprivation of your rights, your freedoms, untransparency, vote-buying (practised blatantly in the last few by-elections, for those who wish to probe), state-controlled media and newspapers that are only fit to wrap fish in, exceedingly dull and propagandic TV, corruption, and the cynical exploitation of racial fault-lines for electoral benefit.
While the rest of must wait, patiently, for some Alexander to appear, and slash, with his reasoned sword, this Gordian Knot that is Gambling In Malaysia.