[Sports Betting] 'Licence' or 'approval'? PM akin to Clinton, says DAP
~ Hazlan Zakaria
There is now proof that Berjaya Corporation aims to start sports betting operation as early as August and raise RM800 million to finance the venture, claims DAP publicity chief Tony Pua today.
Pua argued this shows that Berjaya Corp has the government nod, despite government denials that a sports betting licence has been issued to the company.
He was referring to an information memorandum by Berjaya Corp subsidiary Sports Toto (M) Sdn Bhd, copies of which were distributed by Pua at the Parliament lobby today.
The document was dated June 11, just four days after Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, in his capacity has finance minister, denied that the sports betting licence has already been issued.
Pua, who is Petaling Jaya MP, accused Najib of playing with words and telling half truths by making a play of the terms "approval" and "license".
"I think the approval has been given but the license has not been issued yet. It is a stupid play of words, a hiding of the truth," said the DAP leader.
Pua jokingly compared former US president Bill Clinton's attempt to deny sexual relations with one of his interns, to describe Najib's alleged wordplay.
"Clinton denied he had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky. Of course this was based on his interpretation of the word 'intercourse'."
'Who would you trust?'
In the document it was clearly stated that one of the developments the company submitted for consideration of investors was that "the Finance Ministry has given its approval for the re-issuance to Ascot the license to carry out sports betting operations".
The information memorandum was supported by a credit analysis from the Malaysian Rating Corporation Berhad (MARC) which gave a stable outlook for the loan sought by the Berjaya subsidiary based on the reliability of Sports Toto's cashflow.
The report called Ascot Sports "a licensed sports betting operator" which will contribute to Sports Toto's earnings.
Ascot Sports was another subsidiary of Berjaya Corp which applied for the sports betting licence. In a notice to Bursa Malaysia on May 12, Berjaya Corp said that sports betting operations would be conducted by Sports Toto.
"The MARC would have done its homework before coming out with this report, it would have made sure to check if Berjaya has been given approval by the ministry," said Pua.
Berjaya's move, contends Pua, makes a mockery of the financial system, saying that this may cause confusion amongst investors because of the conflicting information.
"The investors are not sure. Should they listen to the rating agency and banks or to the prime minister?" he asked.
On a serious note, he urged Najib to explain whether or not the licence has been issued to put uncertainties to rest and restore investor confidence.
There is ongoing confusion on whether Berjaya Corp can conduct legally sports betting operations because of the finance ministry's insistence that no licence has been issued.
However, Berjaya Corp is insistent that it has a written approval from the Finance Ministry.
Despite arguing that legalised sports betting would generate billions in revenue and stem illegal bookmakers, the federal government is currently under intense pressure to scrap plans to issue the licence over religious and social concerns.
Taken from Malaysiakini.
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