The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) has drawn attention to technology in its Friday sermon – for making it easier for adherents of the religion to indulge in “transgressions and misdeeds”. The sermon addressed the exemptions the Government has given to certain local operators under Remote Gambling Act. The Government recently announcement that ‘Singapore Pools and Singapore Turf Club have been found suitable to be exempt operators under the Remote Gambling Act (RGA).
MUIS said: “Online gambling is an extremely worrying trend and it requires our utmost attention. It has the potential to not only affect the individual involved, but also the entire family and community. When a person becomes addicted, they are more prone to lose control of themselves and to spiral into lawlessness,” said Muis. “That is why Islam firmly prohibits gambling.”
It further urged: “We should also monitor the websites that are visited and frequented by our family members to ensure that their actions are aligned to the Islamic teachings and values.” And asked Muslims to educate their children about the consequences of gambling, and if necessary, register their families on the ‘no-gambling’ list.
“There are people who might argue that it is not a problem as long as gambling does not become habitual, or is only done through social media. However, research has shown that those who become addicted to gambling began as “social gamblers,” Muis said in warning that many gamblers have ended up bankrupt, affecting their families.
Writing in his Facebook on 9 Oct, Reform Party member Osman Sulaiman said that MUIS should take a stand in the ongoing debate about exempting certain operators from the ban on remote gambling.
Last week, the National Council of Churches Singapore (NCCS) in a media statement alleged that the Government was sending confusing and conflicting signals by exempting operators under Remote Gambling Act. In expressing its grave concerns, it appealed to the Government to review its intended implementation of exempt operators under the Remote Gambling Act (https://theindependent.sg.sg/nccs-government-is-sending-confusing-and-conflicting-signals-by-exempting-operators-under-remote-gambling-act).
Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin responded to NCCS statement and said that having a “managed space” for online gambling will allow the Government to provide a “safer alternative” for those who wish to place bets online. He said that the Government measures will not eradicate the problem of remote gambling, and so there is a need for a controlled outlet valve, that’s provided for by the law.
The Minister believes that in such a space, those that want to gamble can perhaps be in a safer space because organised crime will be removed from the picture. And also because safety measures can be put in place to try to manage the problem actively.
— Channel NewsAsia (@ChannelNewsAsia) October 6, 2016
The Minister’s comments drew criticisms from several quarters. Some have questioned if it is the same approach the Government would take to other problems which plague society.
Osman writing in Malay, asked why MUIS has not issued any statement about the exemptions to remote gambling issued to Singapore Pools and and the Singapore Turf Club. He said the non-response by the religious authority will give the impression that it is a weak agency which will not voice out the concerns of many Muslims about the exemptions granted. (https://theindependent.sg.sg/muis-should-take-a-stand-against-exemptions-to-remote-gambling-act-says-opposition-member),