From the Summary of Feedback on the casion debate in the Feedback Unit forum (words in brackets mine):
a) Will create significant economic benefits and jobs. (MONEY)
b) Will boost the tourism industry / attract more tourists. (MONEY)
c) Will provide a wider range of entertainment options. (LEISURE)
d) Will divert local gamblers back to our own shores. (MONEY)
e) Singaporeans are socially responsible and mature enough. (MATURITY)
f) Singapore society is maturing. (MATURITY)
g) Adults should exercise personal responsibility. (MATURITY)
a) Will potentially result in an increase in social ills, such as higher incidence of problem gambling, increase in crime, etc. Social safeguards will not work as there will always be loopholes. (SOCIAL ILLS, LOOPHOLES)
b) Against Singapore's pro-family policy. (FAMILY PROBLEMS)
c) Has a cannibalising effect on other industries. (MONEY)
d) Erodes our moral and religious values. (VALUES)
e) Tarnishes Singapore's good reputation and image. (POOR IMAGE)
IT'S DEJA VU again -- the past few weeks had been like a more intense replay of what happened towards the end of last year, when media reports suggested that the government is close to making a decision on the casino.
Leaders from major religious groups repeated their protests against the building of a casino in Singapore. However, a TV station started asking people to cast their votes for or against the casino via SMS or its Internet website. Even offered viewers a chance to visit casinos in Gentings Highland to see for themselves how they are like. As if one short highly publicised visit can verify the presence or absence of vice and misery behind pathological gambling!
Columnists in The Straits Times again bleated their reiterations that the reasons against having a casino are lame. And now besides government officials, the PM has also said publicly that since legalized gambling has been around for some time, this is not a values issue!
In the Feedback Unit website, arguments for and against the casino were reported in a biased way -- expanding points for the casino, and contracting points against the casino. Many points that I made in 10 Reasons NOT to have a Casino were not included, for example:
. Rates of gambling addiction (a psychological condition) double within 50 miles of a casino.
. We Singaporeans are NOT in a desparate economic situation. We have just posted an annual growth of around 8%.
. We do NOT want to be world-class or world-famous for gambling and casinos.
. Current gambling problems are already bad enough. If a casino is built, Singapore will have to improve its social services, National Council of Social Service president Gerard Ee had said in a public forum. Even now, Singapore is 'ill-prepared' to address the existing problems of gambling addiction, much less those that will arise with a casino, he added.
Sure, "there are already many, many available options if you want to gamble - 4D, horse-betting, lottery..." However, the existence of a problem for some time does not suggest that this problem has ceased being a problem or that it should be further aggravated. Furthermore, casino gambling is a far more social, addictive and higher-stake form of gambling (especially for Asians) than all the rest combined.
As for "...anyone who wants to play in a casino can now go travel", can't the government understand that "Rates of gambling addiction double within 50 miles of a casino"? (National Gambling Impact Study Commission, "Final Report" Sec. 4, p..5.)
And if the government truly believes that "You're an adult - it's YOUR job to restrain yourself, not the government's. Time for people to take responsibility so the nanny (state) can retire", it should stop locking up CPF and imposing minimum sums. The people can take care of themselves, right?
Finally, leaders from almost all the major religious groups in Singapore -- Buddhist, Muslim, Christian (both Catholic and Protestant) -- have declared publicly their opposition to the casino. If this is NOT a moral issue, what is?
Actually, i wasn't sure whether to make this entry public until today. Afterall, we Singaporeans ARE afraid of speaking up against the government, having seen numerous libel suits being filed against those who did. And many have speculated that things also don't go too well behind the scenes for those who did. But i've decided to take the chance. i truly hate gambling, and i don't want to see more of it -- least of all, with sanctions from the government.
On the day that i prepared the post above, a man jumped to his death in Tampines.
Church reveals gambling problem that plagued man who jumped to his death
Posted: 08 March 2005 2104 hrs
By Yvonne Cheong, Channel NewsAsia
"SINGAPORE : A compassionate family man who loved helping the elderly, but a man who had a weakness for gambling - this was the picture painted by pastors of 40-year-old Simon Lee, who jumped to his death from a flat at Tampines.
"The church also revealed that he had gone to a casino at Genting Highlands with his family last December, where he chalked up a "substantial" gambling debt.
"Relatives of Simon Lee, his wife Jeslyn Wee, and their children Jonathan, 11, and Sheena, 4, lost not one but four loved ones overnight. It was one heartbreaking scene after another as they took turns to identify the bodies at the mortuary on Tuesday morning.
"Simon Lee, who worked as a complaints investigation officer with Comfort Delgro, was found dead at the foot of Tampines block 470 on Monday. Hours later, police found his wife and their two children dead in the flat."