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    Casino in Singapore?

 

Monday with the Editor: A casino for Singapore? Why not?

Social Safeguards for Integrated Resort with Casino Gaming

 Singapore to have two IRs with a casino each

 

Chronological Order (Earliest on top)

 

Excerpt from Prime Minister's National Day Speech 2004

...We've said, "No'' to the casino for a very long time.  I've said "No" to the casino for a very long time.  In 1985, we had a recession.  I remember the late Mr Teh Cheang Wan wanted the casino, argued for it.  We said, "No".  We didn't proceed.  This time round, we had the ERC (Economic Review Committee).  The Subcommittee has put up the proposal for a casino.  On the ERC, I said, "No", a majority of the members said, "No".  We didn't recommend it.  

 

But the subject didn't die and we have to reconsider because the argument comes up, the situation changes. 

 

Why is the situation different?  Because there are "cruises to nowhere", more and more cruises to nowhere.  Some don't even cruise, some anchor nowhere.  You can go to Batam.  I'm told there are 13 down there.  I haven't been there, but Wong Kan Seng has been.  He told me it was by accident, and Singaporeans go there.  So, Singaporeans are already doing this, right? 

 

Then you want tourists. There are millions of tourists because the Indians have money to spend, the Chinese have money to spend.  Every tour group to Singapore goes to Genting.  Macau is opening up.  Now, they have broken the monopoly, new operators, more shows, more games.

 

If we want to grow our tourism traffic and double the number of tourists to Singapore, we don't just want them to come here because of gambling, but if gambling is one of the things they want to do, then maybe we should allow them to do that in Singapore, find some way to do that and if, as a result of that, I get, over 10 years, double the traffic volume, I think we should think about it. 

 

So, MTI has come with a new proposal, not just a casino, but an integrated resort, entertainment centre.  So, you have shows, you have family entertainment, you have food, restaurants, art, all sorts of things and in the middle, of course, you also have this place. 

 

Should we say, "No"?  Well, I think we should take a deep breath and think about it carefully. I know many Singaporeans have expressed concerns and very strong concerns and the religious groups particularly have very strong views and their objections are not irrelevant.  They are valid objections.  It's because of these objections that for so long, we haven't done this.  But I think we shouldn't just say, "No".  I think we should consider - can we have the casino and still contain the social problems?  Let's study it.  Let's see if there's some way to do it. 

 

So, I think what we are going to do is to request for proposals.  Let's put out to say we are going to impose the following restrictions: Singaporeans below a certain income, you don't go.  I mean, if they want to travel all the way to Batam, that's them, but we will not make it easy for people to go broke and ruin their families in Singapore .  But if a millionaire wants to bring another millionaire friend from China or India, I don't think I should say "no" to him.  It may help lessen my other taxes.  So, I think we will find a reasonable restriction, draw a line, call for the proposals, test the market.  Let's see what proposals come in.  If it makes sense and people think that this is worth doing commercially, we make a judgment, we proceed.  If it's not worth it, not worth the downside risks, then we will call it off. 

 

We will consider all views before deciding.  Finally, if we decide against it, then I think we will have had a valuable debate in our society, a valuable discussion and sent a strong signal that we are prepared to discuss all sorts of things and reopen long-settled issues.  But if we decide to proceed, then the final solution which we implement will have to address the valid concerns which Singaporeans have raised.  So, it's not black and white.  I mean, it's looking for an appropriate middle way where we can have our cake and also eat most of it.

 

Increasingly, the world is going to be like that.  China opened up.  Deng Xiaoping said, "When you open the windows, the flies will fly in".  So, you can't close the windows, you'll just have to have a fly-swatter, a fly-trap, have one of these UV lights to zap them, but keep the windows open and keep your interior as clean and as hygienic for your own people as possible.  And I think that's the attitude we should have.

More

 

Excerpt of letter by Yap Sze Hon to Straits Times Forum page on 10 Sep 2004

"...I note the need to attract the tourist dollar and the change in the competitive climate...

"The unflinching stand that our leaders have taken on various issues, including corruption, emanates, I believe, from a moral regime that is part of the foundation of our nation-building. This regime fosters a sense of community and is the linchpin of our economic progress, no matter how the environment changes.

"For if we sow good seeds in our people, such as the virtues of thrift, diligence and social responsibility, we will reap generations of good yield. If ever Singapore has to settle for less affluence in order to uphold these fundamental values, let us do so; we may earn less now, but we will get much more later.

"The argument against having a casino is all the more compelling as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong acknowledged that a casino has the potential for 'people to go broke and ruin their families'.

"There are also the attendant vices that come with casino gambling. So while we solve one problem of attracting some tourists by capitalising on their gambles, we create a host of problems in our small cosmopolitan city with immeasurable social cost. Is it worth it?...

"Once we compromise on our basic beliefs, we may end up in a place where no lines are drawn and our only guiding principle is materialistic well-being.

"Already some people are lamenting that Singapore is a banal and artificial place without a soul - the very reason that is turning away some tourists.

"Above all, knowing full well that a casino is a kind of bottomless pit that has proven irresistible to many, what messages are we sending to our young? By building a glamorous gambling den-cum-resort in our backyard, are we not endorsing gambling as an attractive recreation?... 

 

Excerpt of article "Do CEOs favour having a casino? You bet they do" in The Straits Times 14 Sep 2004 (H8)

"Some of Singapore's top CEOs have come out strongly in favour of opening a casino here, for a variety of reasons.

"Some say it is time to get creative and take some risks to maximise opportunities, while others pointed out that Singaporeans already go elsewhere to gamble, and it makes sense to keep them here and reap the benefits rather than lose them to overseas operators...

"The businessmen said the key is striking a balance between the economic impact of a casino and the social responsibility.

"Some of the ideas they proposed included a dress code, a minimum-age requirement, members-only entry and selecting an operator with a history of strong compliance with regulatory guidelines..."

 

Excerpt of letter by Aletheia Chan Woon Cheng (Ms) to Straits Times Forum page on 15 Sep 2004

"...The presence of a casino will erode Singaporeans' will and drive to work hard, and will, instead, divert their attention towards gambling skills and other sleight of hand.

"Hence, it is superficial to think that a casino causes only 'social' problems; it will set in motion a degeneration of the national psyche, with serious economic repercussions...

"It was reported that restrictions would be put in place to prevent lower-income Singaporeans from patronising the casino. Does this mean that middle- and high-income earners can afford to gamble away their hard-earned money?

"It may be argued that the 'mature and discerning' will only be casual gamblers, not addicted ones. But let us not forget, as with drugs and cigarettes, it all begins with the first curious, 'innocuous' puff.

"Weren't all the high-profile swindlers, who sank under the ignominious weight of casino debts, mature, intelligent and highly educated?...

"Soon, other than eating and shopping, Singaporeans can add gambling to their list of national pastimes. How else do you unbend in such a compressed environment on a tiny island?..."

 

Excerpt of letter by Joseph Wong Kok Sen to Straits Times Forum page on 15 Sep 2004

"...In the great casino debate, it has been assumed, almost without question, that a casino will benefit Singapore's economy by attracting tourists. Casinos hold out the promise of doing for Singapore what they did for Las Vegas. However, Las Vegas is in a unique category in terms of the sequence of its economic development. Its casinos were its first significant economic sector; its other economic elements came later, and sprang up to support and to feed off the casinos.

"When other US cities with established economies tried to import the Las Vegas casino growth model, they discovered that, instead of adding to the economy, the casinos diverted spending from entertainment sectors like restaurants and cinemas.

"Singapore, too, already has an indigenous entertainment and tourist industry, and should be wary lest a casino exerts a similar hollowing-out effect on the rest of the economy.

"At the very least, there should be further research on the impact of having a casino, and it needs to be stripped of the rosy assumptions that pervade pro-casino arguments'..."

 

Excerpt of letter by Yap Heng Yeow to Straits Times Forum page on 15 Sep 2004

"...with or without a casino, gambling is deeply entrenched. Almost everybody I know bets on something or other, every now and then.

"Walk around the neighbourhood and you will find people queuing at Singapore Pools outlets to place bets. There is also a network of underground bookies.

"If you are adventurous you can board cruises to nowhere or go to a neighbouring country to try your luck.

"The bottom line is that Singaporeans can already gamble on anything. Also, seen from a global perspective, gambling is a huge industry.

"Therefore, building a casino should not be seen as the authorities encouraging citizens to gamble. It is just a pragmatic solution to capture the millions of tourist dollars bypassing us each year. It could also stem the millions of dollars flowing out of Singapore to foreign casinos.

"Let us not kid ourselves by saying that if we do not build a casino, there will be no gambling-associated problems. There may be some new problems. But let us have faith in ourselves that we can manage these problems sensibly as a society."

 

Excerpt of letter by Tan Li Lian (Mdm) to Straits Times Forum page on 18 Sep 2004

"The thought of a casino being set up in Singapore makes me very sad. Why a casino?

"My mother used to gamble incessantly, leaving my three siblings and me in the care of an elderly maid. She wiped out all our savings to feed her addiction.

"At one stage, when she was on a winning streak, she went to Genting in a helicopter every day. There was a time when my father accompanied her and both of them got hooked on gambling. The four of us did not see them for months. Luckily for us, my father woke up when he started losing big time. Of course, those moments were horrible too as there were quarrels about money all the time. Actually, I do not know which was worse, when they were winning and we did not see them or when they were losing and there were quarrels all the time...

"It was tumultuous and I would not wish it on any child..."

 

Excerpt of letter by Cepheus Yap Henwei, Victoria, Australia, to Straits Times Forum page on 18 Sep 2004

"...I am a student in Melbourne, Australia, and I have seen fellow Singaporeans go berserk when they go to a casino simply because we do not have one.

"Thus, by building a casino and not imposing any restrictions on entry, the Singapore Government would be sending out a clear signal that Singaporeans are free to make their own decisions, as long as they know the consequences. For too long, the Government has decided the fate of its people, by dictating their lifestyles, to a certain extent."

 

Excerpt of letter by Hansen Yeong Meng Fei to Straits Times Forum page on 18 Sep 2004

"...If a casino causes such harmful effects, we would have seen Las Vegas and Macau infested with local gambling addicts, and sinking under social degeneration.

"Even if we do not have a casino in Singapore, Genting Highlands is only a few hours away. Las Vegas and Macau are not beyond the reach of many. Not only is it impossible to stop the generally affluent Singaporean from patronising a casino, but we will lose out on the value of their patronage, along with that of other visitors.

"I believe Singaporeans have, over the years, acquired the maturity to be able to live with a casino. I also have confidence in the Government regulating the operations of a casino.

"If a single casino can be 'the beginning of our undoing' it would reflect on the strength of our national character, maturity and intelligence, and not on the decision to build one."

 

Excerpt of letter by Ngiam Tong Dow to Straits Times Forum page on 21 Oct 2004

"...A casino will be a disaster for Singapore.

"The idea was first mooted in 1964 to jump-start tourism in Singapore. At that time, the number of visitors was just 400,000. Today, without a casino, tourist arrivals are reaching eight million.

"Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and his then lieutenants, Dr Goh Keng Swee and Dr Toh Chin Chye, decided against having a casino. Instead, we took the straight and narrow road and prospered.

"Our younger successors touting a casino as a quick fix to lagging tourist numbers should ask themselves this question: Are we a lesser society than Macau without a casino?

"Secondly, the Ministry of Finance and Ministry for Trade and Industry should reveal the economic numbers. I am quite certain that the increase in gambling taxes from having a casino will be far less than, say, a 10 per cent increase in the budgets of the Prisons, Department, Singapore Police Force, Commercial Affairs Department, Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau, Central Narcotics Bureau and Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, which will be left to pick up the pieces of broken families.

"It will be the height of irresponsibility on the part of the pro-casino gentry to throw away our hard-earned virtues of thrift, diligence and honesty just for a quick fix..."

 

 

Excerpt of letter by Cheong Wing Lee to Straits Times Forum page on 26 Oct 2004

"Mr Ngiam Tong Dow's views on the casino issue ('Why Singapore should never have a casino'; ST, Oct 21) are too idealistic. He implied that by removing evil, immorality would be vanquished.

"All the social problems mentioned by Mr Ngiam would not disappear just because the casino is not in town. They already exist. For example, despite the strict drug laws, Singapore still has its fair share of drug addicts.

"We should take a practical approach to the issue. Even without a casino, there are ample avenues for gambling. We have the turf club, 4-D lottery, stock market and football bets. Then, there are the casinos on Batam island, only half an hour away, and at Genting Highlands, six hours away. For the high rollers, there are the Australian casinos, the Macau casinos, and the cruise casinos.

The biggest advantage of having a casino in Singapore is that we collect the revenue that would otherwise go to other governments or underworld thugs.

The next advantage is that it keeps Singapore attractive as a tourist destination and brings in tourist revenue and creates jobs..."
 

 

Excerpt of letter by Phillip Ang Keng Hong to Straits Times Forum page on 8 Nov 2004

"...A casino masks addiction perfectly by grouping like-minded people together. It becomes the mother of all denials.

"An addicted gambler only sees through his addiction when the problems he has created overwhelm his ability to solve them. When an addict becomes a statistic in problem gambling, his actions would have already caused untold misery not only to himself but also his loved ones. Current statistics on problem gambling are but the tip of the iceberg.

"A vice does not change with the passage of time. Other countries have succumbed to the easy way to increase their government coffers. Cases of problems with loan sharks or housewives turning to prostitution as a result of gambling are frequently highlighted in overseas press. They are now accepted as part and parcel of society.

"Wise leaders like Minister Lee Kuan Yew clearly understood Pandora's Box must not be opened at any cost. Singaporeans are proud of the legacy he left us - a government which stood its ground when many others succumbed.

"A casino does not result in a win-win situation for everyone and the idea should therefore be put to rest."
 

 

Excerpt of letter by Scott Button to Straits Times Forum page on 8 Nov 2004

"...I disagree when people say a casino will bring social problems. They are already here, hidden under the surface. The gamblers are on the other side of the border, losing their money as we speak.

"If Singapore goes ahead with a casino, i hope some of the revenue raised is set aside to increase social welfare to families affected by gambling."

 

 

Excerpt of article "Panel backs idea of resort with casino" in The Straits Times 11 Nov 2004 (H8)

""A panel of experts advising the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has unanimously backed the plan for an integrated resort here with a casino and urged bold steps to ensure that Singapore remains a prime tourist destination in the region.

"The 17-member International Advisory Council for Tourism met last week to discuss tourism trends and strategies to keep Singapore's tourism offerings competitive with those in the region.

"The idea of an integrated resort in Singapore was first thrown up in Parliament in March. The resort would come complete with hotels, retail outlets and convention facilities...

"The council, established by STB in 1999, comprises leaders of international tourism-related organisations. Its members include Mr Rupert Keeley, Asia-Pacific president and chief executive of Visa International; Mr Tony Wheeler, founder of Lonely Planet; and Mr Adrian Zecha, chairman of luxury resort chain Amanresorts..."

 

 

Excerpt of article "Casino Decision: A bigger question looms" in The Straits Times 12 Nov 2004 (29)

"As the casino question drags on, it is raising questions about the Singapore model...

"For decades, the Government was dead set against a casino. Despite hordes at the Turf Club and Toto booths, we were supposed to be a puritan society that believed in discipline and hard work.

"Then, out of the blue, the possibility of a casino was raised. Why? Tourism was in crisis. It was finally admitted, after years of boasting about increasing numbers coming to Singapore, that our dollar share of Asia-Pacific travel had been falling dramatically.
"Between 1993 and 2002, tourism receipts fell by 21 per cent to $8.8 billion. Singapore's share of East Asia Pacific tourism receipts fell from 8.2 per cent to 5.8 per cent between 1998 and 2002...

"If left to popular opinion, we're not likely to see a casino approved. Yet, there may be a lobby within the Government convinced that we need one.

"But that lobby appears unable to obtain the necessary concensus to move ahead. It wrong-footed itself at the outset by using the justification of attracting the tourist dollar...

"If we are fazed by all these risks and unknowns and say "no" to the idea, what about those budget airlines that make it cheaper to fly to a neighbouring country endowed with gambling options?
"What about Internet gambling? Won't we then still have the social costs of gambling without the economic benefits of such an industry?
"That last question hits the nail on the head. It matters not what the cost-benefit ratio is. The cost is coming to us anyway. You don't need a technocrat to see the answer...
 

 

Monday with the Editor: A casino for Singapore? Why not?

"...Just imagine - all these things happened though we do not have a casino in our midst. So why blame a casino for the excesses of Singaporeans? Even without a casino, Singaporeans are already ugly for all sorts of reasons. Remember the Everitt Road saga, and the takeaways at corporate shareholders' meetings?

"We should not pile blame on the casino proposal for Singapore. Rather, we should look at the proposal objectively.

"Much has been said about the casino proposal in the newspaper forums, as well as on the Government feedback Web site. It has been reported that opinion is almost evenly divided on this matter.

"There is no need for me to revisit those comments already voiced out in the forums. Let me offer another perspective.

"I am already in my late forties. I have seen Singapore in its best times. I have been fortunate to have been born in the post-riots era so I missed out on Singapore's worst times.

"I would say Singapore experienced its best years in the early 1980's. I would also say the good years peaked in 1984. Singaporeans will agree with me on this. We had many expatriates here then - a sign of the good times. I think we went downhill after that. I also think we won't have such good times again. But, that doesn't mean that we can't have good times again.

"I would say good times will come around again if we have a casino in Singapore. But, it's not because we can party at the casino till we go broke. Rather, it's because a casino will help bring in much needed revenue both for the Government and us people.

"The Government gains through taxes. We gain through the money that comes in at the sidelines - through increased spending in our shops and restaurants which translates into more job openings, and consequently, more money for the family.

"We need not worry about the crimes that go hand in hand with casinos. Our police have been doing a good job maintaining security in our streets. In fact, we have an international reputation for clean and safe streets. Surely, we can't be thinking that our police will be any less effective in combating crime if a casino opens here!

"I am offering serious thought on the casino proposal because I am afraid that if we do not have a casino, we may not be able to draw in sufficient income into Singapore to bring in the good times again.

"If the good times do not return, I am afraid that more Singaporeans may think of emigrating with their families to start a new life elsewhere. Though this may not occur in the near future, there is a distinct possibility that it may occur within the next ten or twenty years. These able Singaporeans have no second thoughts about setting up home elsewhere - their personal well-being comes first on their minds. 

"In case you haven't been noticing, our younger workers are generally less enthusiastic about their jobs. They have no qualms about switching to less demanding jobs. It is sad to note this, but in bringing about such high standards of living, the Government has inadvertently created what I would call the soft-Singaporean mentality which has already infected our younger generation, particularly those in their early 30's or younger.

"My fear is that these younger Singaporeans will not think twice about emigrating to another country, thus creating a Singaporean diaspora.

"Do we need to wait till such a situation occurs in our midst before taking action? I say no! Our Government is known for its pragmatism. It has been its pragmatism that has brought us thus far. We may not like the way the Government puts things in our face, but we can't deny we have prospered as a result...."

More.....

 

Excerpt of what Dr Vivina Balakrishnan, Senior Minister of State for Trade & Industry told reporters, The Straits Times of 17 Nov 2004 (H2)

"...If our conclusion is that Singapore is not mature, then we cannot proceed with this proposal.

"If we decide that the proposals are not of sufficient economic benefit, we will not proceed. If we decide that the social safeguards or consequences are disproportionate and are basically beyond the capacity of our society to tolerate, then we will not proceed.

"So what I am asking for is a sensible, pragmatic approach, rather than an ideological approach. Don't be trapped by ideology, don't be trapped by old ways of doing things just because we have already done it that way...don't be stuck in that groove.

"We now live in a time where we need to be prepared to explore all options, but to do so sensibly, to do it with our eyes open and to cross each bridge as we come to it..."

"To me, this direction in which our society is progressing is irreversible."
 

 

Excerpt of letter by Loh Ching Tiam to Straits Times Forum page on 19 Nov 2004

"...I believe most Singaporeans are mature enough to decide for themselves. Besides, the casino will be just a small part of the integrated resort plan. Let's not make a mountain out of a molehill about those minor social ills..."

 

Excerpt of letter by Janice Maria Chia Zhao Shan (Ms) to Straits Times Forum page on 19 Nov 2004

"If gambling is only a very, very small component of a large-scale iconic, integrated entertainment resort, can we have the assurance that when the casino makes lots of money, this very, very small component will not slowly become a very small component, and then a small component? And if it is really such a very, very small component of a larger picture, is it necessary to have it at all?

"Can we have the assurance that when it is shown that the casino has an adverse effect on the lives of ordinary folks, the Government will take prompt action to close it? Or will it be too profitable by then to consider such a move?..."
 

 

Excerpt of letter by Angela Loke (Ms), Corporate Communications Adviser, Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd, to Straits Times Forum page on 26 Nov 2004

"...Singapore is a tiny dot of a nation and we need to be extremely watchful of what our national brand represents. If family is important, we cannot also exploit gambling and the sex trade.

"As a financial-services hub, we cannot relax on corruption or the rule of law. Yes, we do not have the luxury of keeping the cake and eating it at the same time.
"A casino, like pornography and society drugs, is totally incongruent with the Singapore brand. Without a casino, Singapore is already No. 3 in the world in terms of gambling per capita.

"By extrapolating government statistics from the United States, which has 7.5 million pathological and problem gamblers, and Australia, which has 740,000 pathological and problem gamblers, there would conservatively be 60,000 - 80,000 such problem gamblers in Singapore.

"We should begin to address this massive gambling-addiction problem already in our midst, instead of seeking to expand our gambling turnover of $6 billion and taxes of $1.3 billion.

"A casino will add to this serious problem by aggressive marketing, glamorising gambling and deploying the latest highly addictive electronic gaming machines..."

 

 

Excerpt of letter by Mickey Chiang to Straits Times Forum page on 26 Nov 2004

"The Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, is renowned as an excellent communicator. His words are not carelessly spoken, and they deserve careful consideration.

"He reportedly said that the real issue regarding the opening of a casino in Singapore is whether Singaporeans are 'ready as a society to make choices of their own and to take responsibility for their actions and face the consequences'.

"The use of the word 'ready' has unfortunate implications. it implies that something is coming and the question is whether we are ready for it. Has the Government made up its mind to allow a casino to be set up?

"This conveyed impression is reinforced by what Dr Balakrishnan also said: 'We have to move on, we have to be prepared to be open-minded, to be flexible and to take some risk if we are to survive, going forward.

"What he is saying is that people who oppose the casino proposal are not open-minded, are inflexible and are afraid of risk. Thus, those who oppose the idea have been tarred with a big brush.

"It is sad that Dr Balakrishnan also resorted to a scare tactic. He clearly implied that Singapore cannot survive without a casino. I humbly beg to differ..."

 

 

Excerpt of letter by Shaun Lee Wei Han to Straits Times Forum page on 6 Dec 2004

"...It is incredible to suggest that Singapore is not already a gambling society or one without its fair share of gambling problems. Gambling is already legal and sanctioned. We have 4D, soccer and horse race betting, and Toto.

"People go abroad to gamble, whether on cruises, to overseas resorts, during the festive season or even in illegal dens. Gambling addicts and problems associated with gambling have been around since the dawn of Singapore.
"Hence, any 'devaluation' of our 'image' or values (family, Asian, religious or otherwise) must come directly from the casino itself. If, so, the logical solution (but one they have chosen to ignore) is that the casino should have reasonable safeguards.
"Better still, perhaps, this will spur the Government and civic society to embark on a mission of harm reduction and tackle the real problem, which is not gambling but associated and attendant harms already in existence.
"In my opinion, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan has already dealt with changing societal mores and the need for society and individuals to debate and accept change. Furthermore, this serves as a litmus test on how 'ready' our society is to take responsibility for our future.
"Hence, while it is admirable to see the effort put in by the naysayers, unless they plan to ban all forms of gambling, their enthusiasm is misplaced. better to set up a Gamblers Anonymous instead."
 

 

Excerpt of letter by Yong Yoke Teck to Straits Times Forum page on 15 Dec 2004

"...the opening of a casino in Singapore will likely create only 4,000 jobs. Is this not an obvious enough answer to a hotly debated casino issue? Why build a casino to create only 4,000 jobs and breed all the attendant social ills when we should be working towards having, say, a Universal studios theme park in Sentosa?..."

 

 

Excerpt of letter by Thomas Sim Wai Tat (Dr) to Straits Times Forum page on 15 Dec 2004

"...Would it be a surprise if I tell you that research shows that the shorter the time to gratification, the higher the chance of addiction? Hence, there are more people addicted to 4-D and Toto than there are those addicted to Singapore Sweep...

"You can place more than one million bets in a casino in the time taken to settle one Singapore Sweep lottery-ticket bet.

"With that short a time-frame to gratification, a casino will cause a massive increase in gambling addiction.

"Thus, gambling in a casino is significantly different from current legalised gambling in Singapore.

"If we ignore the moral and economic aspects of the casino issue, it boils down to this: "Is Singapore prepared for the massive increase in gambling addiction that will come with the setting up of a casino?"

 

Excerpt of article "Casino lures big players" in The Straits Times of 7 Jan 2005 (H2)

"About 100 people attended a closed-door meeting on the integrated casino resort held by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) yesterday.

"The meeting was open to 'interested proposers' in Singapore's integrated resort who had bought the Government's Request For Concepts package for S$1,000...

"Not surpirsingly,, US gaming giants MGM-Mirage, Harrah's Entertainment and Las vegas Sands, as well as the Bahamas' Kerzner International and Malaysia's Genting Berhad, all sent representatives to the meeting.

"Sources said local property developers CapitaLand, City Developments (CDL), Keppel land and Hotel Properties were also present...

"Some gaming operators who have been quiet about their interest but turned up at the meeting included Las Vegas casino entrepreneur Steve Wynn's Wynn Resorts and Australia's Tabcorp, which owns star City casino in Sydney, sources said..."

 

 

Excerpt of article 'Stopping The casino spin Cycle' by Andy Ho in The Straits Times of 16 Jan 2005 (23)

"...Casinos are ideal vehicles for laundering as they generate large amounts of unaccounted-for cash which can be deposited as an evening's take without attracting attention. Some laundering probably occurs in every casino...

"Because of the vulnerability of casinos to money laundering, the industry must be carefully regulated. As a member of the UN Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering, Singapore's regulators will also have to co-operate with their counterparts in the region, including Australia and Japan, which has 10 new casinos in the pipeline. The fight against money laundering never gets easy."

 

 

Excerpt of article "Will Truth Rise Out of Casino debate?" by Koh Buck Song in The Straits Times of 1 Feb 2005 (23)

"...For too long, the Singapore public had been criticised for lacking passion for civic activism, not caring enough about issues beyond themselves and their immediate families' material well-being.

"So the energy emerging from this exercise would seem to satisfy the government's stated and implied desire to see more participation in policy making and, with it, a deeper sense of contribution and commitment to this country...

"There are some parallels with the 1990s censorship debate, but with an important difference.

"On censorship, opinion was also split, but surveys showed nearly two-thirds of interviewees being comfortable with opening access to explicit media materials.

"On the casino, the danger of polarisation is arguably greater. Public sentiment appears split 50-50, and gambling is seen as a more treacherous action opposed to objectionable thought in, say, accessing pornography.

"Will this casino debate bring a landmark shift in Singapore's political culture, from the former system of controlled debate to a more daring, adversarial dynamics?...

 

 

Excerpt of article "Cabinet is split over casino proposal" in The Straits Times of 1 Feb 2005 (P3)

"...The Cabinet is divided on the casino issue, revealed Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew yesterday.

" 'There are moralists who strongly oppose it,' he said. And 'there are pragmatists who say, look, the world is changing, can we (afford to) stay as we were?'

"Mr Lee said of his own resistance to casinos" 'I did not believe you get rich on it trying to build this ball spinning around the roulette.

" 'I believe you get rich, or at least you make progress... by acquiring skills, the capital to start new businesses, improving these skills, doing better each time, widening your skills. And that's how we got there.'

"But he added, 'the world has moved on, and we are part of this world.' ..."

 

 

Excerpt of letter by Yong Teck Meng to Today newspaper Voices page on 22 Feb 2005

"Proponents of a casino seem to imply that any opposition needs to be justified. It is the other way around.

"The proponents are attempting to change the status quo and must demonstrate convincingly that we need a casino by at least two-thirds of the populace to agree.

"As opponents, our key point is that we want Singapore to stay the way it is now. For many reasons, we do not want our children to grow up in a place where there is a casino.

"The proponents keep bringing up existing social vices such as gambling and prostitution to imply that opponents are living in a fantasy world.

"We are not stupid people. We are saying that we do not want our society to move beyond the current control mechanisms...

"One other thing that bugs me greatly is that we are saying that we cannot do better. I cannot accept this.

"With all the highly paid consultants, scholars, professionals and other bright people we have, we are saying that other than building a casino, we cannot think of another way to attract the tourist dollar, boost employment and provide entertainment.

"This is not the Singapore I grew up knowing. Proponents keep harping on how the world has changed. When has the world as we know it not been changing?"

 

 

Excerpt of letter by Nigel Adeyinka Onamade to Getforme - Singapore on the Web on 22 Feb 2005

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write in to express my view about the Singapore Government's debate over having a casino in Singapore. In a yes or no casino question my answer is a straight No. Morally gambling is wrong and we would only be opening the nation to a greater level and magnitude of vices. I'll state my argument from a slightly different view.

 

When I think of this issue I think of the size of this dear country that I have called home for the past 12 years. I look at a few events that have happened in the recent months and my mind is prone to ponder on the thought of such things happening in Singapore. We are all witnesses, though physically distant, to the effects and extent of the damage done by the recent Tsunami that hit most of South Asia and South East Asia. What if the Tsunami had hit our little Island nation, what would have been the effect if the waters came in 1 kilometer inland from the shores around the East Coast, Tanjong Pagar, Sentosa and West Coast areas? Would we still be debating about the casino today? Wouldn't the very land that we intended to build the intended casino have been wiped out as we saw on some of the smaller Islands in neighboring Indonesia?

 

I am reminded of a fishing village in Sri Lanka that had about 5000 inhabitants before the Tsunami hit and how they can only account for about 1000 or so of those folks now. Can you imagine Singapore losing about 3000 or more of its citizens in one day? You are probably wondering, What's the connection? Well, the connection is that I have heard or read in most of the debates where Singapore is compared with other countries that already have casinos, and how the negative effects of the presence of a casino is not so great. How big are these countries, what is the size of their population? How many provinces and states or regions actually make up the countries?  If a casino sweeps through this nation can we withstand the effect? Singapore is way too small for this, and please Macau does not apply here. Singapore is not a settlement, it is a country.

Like our dear minister mentor, Lee Kwan Yew, rightly stated recently, Singapore's size is its vulnerability.  I agree with him. Do we have enough social workers/experts to handle the devastation of families as a result of bankruptcy? Do we have well trained law enforcement agents that can take up any kind of organized crime units? What about the other add-ons to casinos, the guns, the girls? Is this what we what to expose our young children to?

 

This issue must be considered very carefully, because the Jones were able to pull it off is no indication that Singapore can handle this one.

 

 

Thanks

 

Nigel Adeyinka Onamade

 

Excerpt of article "MPs: Put casino issue to the vote" by Azhar Ghani in The Straits Times of 2 Mar 2005 (H6)

"...two Members of the House want the controversial issue to be put to the vote.

"Mr Tan Soo Khoon (East Coast GRC) feels the issue is important enough to be debated further in Parliament, while Nominated MP Loo Choon Yong wants a referendum to be held for Singaporeans to vote on it.

"Mr Tan, who stoutly opposed the casino proposal in the House on Jan 17, yesterday suggested MPs be allowed to vote according to their conscience and not be compelled to vote on party lines..."

 

Excerpt of article "Don't give up battle, even if casino gets the nod" by Chua Mui Hoong in The Straits Times of 9 Mar 2005 (H6)

"As at 7.30pm last night, 27,473 people had signed an online petition against having a casino here.

"The petition was started by an anti-casino group calling itself Families Against Casino Threat in Singapore (Facts)...

"Despite the Government's statement that no decision has been made, many Singaporeans think it's a done deal...

"The worst possible thing to happen, from a civil society point of view, is for activists like Facts to throw their hands up in despair at a 'yes' decision, and forswear any further involvement in the casino issue, or any other public issue.

"On its part, the Government must be willing to work with activist groups and address their concerns..."

 

Excerpt of letter by Tan Jiak Ngee to Straits Times Forum page on 10 Mar 2005

"...I believe there is a third dimension that goes beyond the current debate. What will happen to Singapore's clean and wholesome image? Will there be a political cost to the Singapore brand?...

"I am concerned about the possible political effect on those who strongly oppose having a casino in Singapore. If the decision is to go ahead with a casino, will these people begin to doubt the execution of the forward-looking and well-articulated policies and agenda of the Government? Will the opposition political parties turn it to their advantage and, perhaps, score by default?...

"Ultimately, it is the Government we have elected that must make the decision for the long-term good and well-being of Singapore and Singaporeans..."

 

Excerpt of article "What's baa-d about conforming" by Ong Soh Chin in The Straits Times of 17 Mar 2005 (H6)

"...The recent tragic deaths of Mr Simon Lee and his family were seen by some as a cautionary tale on the dangers of gambling addiction. Inadvertently, the poor man had become a poster boy for the anti-casino camp...

"But while the anti-casino contingent - which relies strongly on the moral argument - sees the incident as bolstering its case, I actually think it proves the opposite, if one looks at it logically.

"Mr Lee was a good man who had a loving family and the support and compassion of his church. He had a job. He would seem like a man who had it all. He certainly had all the trademarks of a moral, clean-living lifestyle.

"He also lived in a country which had no casino. But all these blessings still could not save him and his family from their tragic fate.

"An addict is an addict, and whether or not the source of his addiction is at his doorstep or in Siberia, he will find a way to get to it. Only counselling and a strong will to change can help him.

"If not having a casino in Singapore can be proven empirically to cure all gamblers and prevent new ones from developing the habit, then I'll be the first in line to say, ban all casinos on Singapore soil. But there is no such evidence..."

     - Social Safeguards for Integrated Resort with Casino Gaming

     - Singapore to have two IRs with a casino each

     - Las Vegas Sands awarded Integrated Resort Project at Marina Bay

     - Genting International and Star Cruises wins Sentosa IR bid

 

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