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06 Nov 2017

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KUALA LUMPUR: The government has declared all-out war against online gambling syndicates and foreign scams which cause huge amounts of losses.

To this end, said Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, he had ordered police to bust all illegal gambling activities, especially online gambling.

“We are very serious about eradicating all syndicates from Malaysia. Police are going all out and have been in contact with countries like China, Macau and nations in Africa, from where some of these syndicates are operating, to put an end to it,” he said at the Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) 7th Consumer Forum closing ceremony at Menara Felda.

Zahid said, however, that eradicating the syndicates needed a concerted effort from all concerned, including the public.

“The gambling menace has eaten into society like a cancer and many families are stuck in serious financial problems due to this. That is not all, because gambling (can also lead to those in debt) committing crimes such as snatch theft, extortion, gangsterism, drugs and many other criminal activities that bring financial gain to them,” he said, adding that the authorities had found children as young as those in primary school among those gambling.

Zahid admitted that ending illegal online gambling and arresting those responsible would indeed be challenging as these syndicates either operated outside the country or, if they were in Malaysia, did not stick to one location for long.

“These syndicates are smart but we must be smarter in tracking them down. Their operating database is widespread, which makes it harder for detection. I have made it a KPI (key performance indicators) requirement for state police chiefs so that due importance is given to gambling problem once and for all.

“I have also asked Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Fuzi Harun to make this an utmost priority as it’s a very serious problem. The police are doing a good job, I can say,” he said.

Zahid added that, so far, more that 420 gambling syndicate kingpins from China have been extradited back to their own country to be charged with illegal gambling.

“Currently, there are 38 more who are waiting to be sent back to be charged in China. We have identified several syndicates and they are being pursued… (they are) mostly from Macau, African countries, China and a few other countries.”

On syndicates cheating Malaysians out of their money via various scams, he said he had asked police to pay attention to these as well.

“This would include love scams as well. Police will not hesitate to use the Prevention of Crime Act (POCA) 1959 on repeat and hardcore criminals if suspected of being involved with any syndicate,” Zahid warned.

He said non-governmental organisations such as PPIM could also play a role by being the eyes and ears of the force, apart from educating the public of the dangers of online gambling through community activities.