Thursday, April 07, 2005

Workers' Party Stand on Casino

Workers' Party Policy Statement on the PAP Government's Casino Proposal
7th April 2005, Singapore

The Executive Council of the Workers' Party, after reviewing opinions from a Public Consultation Exercise held on 5th March 2005, numerous feedback, its members, surveys of other countries and cities with Casinos and viewpoints by various groups and deliberating on the pros and cons of the proposal has decided to reject the government's plan to include a Casino in its call for an Integrated Resort. It rejects the proposal for the following reasons:
To date there is no clarity to what negative mid and long term impact the Casino will have on Singaporean society. The Workers' Party notes the adverse effects of gaming in our society with the current proliferation of gaming outlets in Singapore. There is no conclusive study done locally on the scale of impact that gaming has on family and society. However, based on feedback and news reports, there are obviously negative consequences. The Workers' Party believes that setting up of Casino will further aggravate the situation. The government should make a comprehensive study of the social ills caused by current gambling activities and present it to the public for a balanced judgment on whether a casino is desirable for the society.

While various measures to restrict Singaporeans from gambling at the proposed Casino have been mooted in an attempt to persuade Singaporeans that the social costs can be contained, even the Prime Minister himself, by announcing that social costs would be managed by setting up a centre to treat addiction, has implicitly acknowledged that addictive gambling will be a problem.

Moreover, any measures to curb social costs are subject to changes in the future with possible intense competition from the region. There is nothing to stop the government from making a decision to drop all safeguards in order to be more competitive, with a claim that the society is mature enough.

Due to the smallness of Singapore, the casino will remain physically accessible to Singaporeans. The compactness of Singapore with high density of population means the whole population is in the immediate ?catchments area? of the Casino. Unlike countries with bigger geographical area, there are no other ?cities? in which Singaporeans can choose to raise a family while staying clear of from the influence of a Casino. There is a risk that the attraction of ?integrated resort? sugar coated to be a family entertainment centre will attract both parents and children to the same venue known for its gaming culture.

The economic benefits cited as being linked to the Casino have not been convincing, as it is not clear how long having a Casino with integrated resort will put Singaporean in an advantageous position in tourism, nor the extent to which Singaporeans will benefit from job creation. It is also not known how having a Casino will affect Singapore's reputation as a country known as a good place to ensure family values and bring up children. The Workers' Party does not want the international community to identify Singapore as synonymous with Casinos and gaming.

That the Casino is not a life and death issue as the Casino should not be the only solution for the economy. PAP ministers who are paid world-renowned high salaries should be able to come up with a better solution for the economy.

Casinos would breed new opportunities for sophisticated crimes such as casino-related fraud and money laundering. The Workers' Party observes that the authorities such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore are still working on tightening anti-money laundering measures generally, and whether these would be adequate to prevent Singapore from being a centre for money-laundering when the casinos are operational is still not known.

The Workers' Party notes that a broad cross section of Singaporean society is concerned about the negative effects of having a Casino literally at their doorsteps. Yet the PAP Government has refused to allow Singaporeans to exercise their right to decide on having a Casino in Singapore through a referendum. The PAP government has also refused the challenge by the Workers' Party to make the proposed Casino an election issue. Even PAP MPs have not been allowed to vote according to their conscience in Parliament.

The Workers' Party reminds the PAP that receiving a mandate to form the government in general elections does not mean the PAP can do what it likes, especially on matters which would impact society in fundamental ways and when there are strong reservations about the Casino from many sectors of the community. In taking a path which many do not feel comfortable with, the government should allow Singaporeans to express their view by choice and not merely pay lip service to getting feedback by encouraging people to participate in discussions, only to decide on the issue by itself.

At present times the Workers' Party feels it is prudent to get a more thorough understanding of the negative effects of gaming already in Singapore instead of hastily deciding on proceeding with a Casino.

The Workers' Party repeats its call to let the people decide directly on the matter.

James Gomez
2nd Assistant Secretary-General
The Workers' Party


luke said...

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olddollar said...

Did not realise WP's stand on the casino until I found this article.

Excellent and another reason why I'd vote for you guys.

Living in Aljunied GRC! cheers.

Anonymous said...

What a shame to look for tourist dollar by such means, its totally demeaning for a First World Society . Soon the gov, will take over all the prostitute dens in Geylang and run it , 'cos most of our Ah Peks are splurging their CPF on prostitutes in Batam & Bintan. No problem in getting foriegn " Talents" for this kind of job.
It will be considered another service industry, and will create more jobs for singaporeans,working as pimps and bouncers.
Or a more descent word " Security Personel"

Anonymous said...

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