Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Tiong King Sing has urged critics to look to the Middle East for inspiration on moderation.
He argued that the casino proposed as part of an integrated resort in Borneo Highlands would spur the economy and provide jobs, and revenue from the project can be used to develop rural areas in Sarawak.
Tiong said conditions can be applied to locals, such as paying a day levy or annual levy to enter any of the country’s casinos.
“If we can stimulate the economy for the locals, why should we object (to the proposal)?
“What is being proposed is for the future of Sarawak, especially the rural folks who are yearning for basic infrastructure,” said Tiong in a statement.
Tiong added, as Malaysia was a multi-racial and multi-religious country, politicians should not try to be more conservative than the Middle East.
“As an example, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be hosting Miss World 2023 this year. There are also luxury casinos in the Middle East.
“Should Malaysia, especially Sarawak, be denied the right to develop?” asked Tiong.
This statement came after the casino project proposal was objected by Sarawak PAS chief Jofri Jaraiee who claimed that the casino would bring social ills to Sarawakians.