Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tony Tan was against the casino..

Prime News
Gaming minuses worry DPM TanSandra Davie
590 words
15 April 2005
Straits Times
(c) 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Limited
'55,000 potential gambling addicts' is no small matter, he says of findings
THE fact that up to 55,000 people here risk becoming gambling addicts is no small matter and cannot be dismissed, Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan said yesterday.
Commenting on a Community Development, Youth and Sports Ministry survey of gambling habits, he said he was 'appalled' that a newspaper headline dismissed the number as insignificant:
'I don't think it's insignificant. Every Singaporean is important. Every Singaporean that gets into trouble means one family that is destroyed. It cannot be a matter of small concern to the Government.'
He offered his views after a ceremony for the National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School.
Noting that the survey of 2,004 people found that 2.1 per cent risked becoming problem gamblers, he said it may appear a small number. But this could translate to as many as 55,000 of the total adult population here.
'Even if you take half that number, you have 20,000 problem gamblers a year,' Dr Tan said.
'This means 20,000 whose lives have been destroyed, 20,000 Singaporean families who have been devastated by gambling.'
He decided to comment as a newspaper he read yesterday, which he did not identify, had asked 'where is the problem?'
'You can't dismiss people's lives like that,' he said.
His comments stemmed from a headline in Today: 'What gambling problem?'
Its secondary heading read: 'Only 2 in 100 adults at risk of addiction: MCYS'.
The survey findings came five days before the Government's Monday announcement on whether to go ahead with an integrated resort with a casino. The Cabinet has already made a decision.
Dr Tan would not be drawn into disclosing more. He said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong would announce it in Parliament.
But he said there had been a healthy debate, including in Cabinet.
'I'm not going to tell you what the decision will be today. But whatever the decision is, once it is made, we should move on. We should make the decision work, give our ideas,' he said.
'If we are going to have casinos in Singapore, we must see how we can get the maximum benefit and how to minimise the social cost.'
Dr Tan added: 'We can't dismiss the social cost as some journalists apparently believe that we can, which I think is gravely wrong. As I said, even if 5,000, 10,000 Singaporeans are affected, to me it is a matter of concern.
'And it is a matter of concern for the Government. My Cabinet colleagues and I worry about every Singaporean who gets into trouble.'
Dr Tan was one of the first ministers to speak on the issue. He said in February it should not be assumed Singapore will reap economic benefits from a casino here.
There were also economic disadvantages to consider, including the effects a casino could have on the value of Singapore's brand name. So while there may be some economic value, people may also not look at Singapore in the same way again.
Dr Tan said the Cabinet considered all aspects and balanced the economic benefits against possible damage to Singapore's values and principles.
'We have to make sure the decision we make is in the best interests of Singaporeans as a whole... And I think the Cabinet has taken all the views in and has made the best decision for Singapore.'

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