The announcement by Kedah Menteri Besar Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor that local councils will enforce an effective ban on the operations of all gaming shops in the state by not renewing their licences is clearly an abuse of power by the state government.
Sanusi also said that the sale of alcohol will be restricted in rural areas of the state in order “to ensure that our people remain sane”.
The Kedah MB has no business in arbitrarily imposing a blanket rule on such applications purely on his personal view that such gaming activities contribute to social ills.
No doubt, section 107(3) of the Local Government Act, 1976 provides that a local authority has the discretion to refuse renewing such licences but such discretion must be exercised within the confines of the law and certainly cannot be exercised arbitrarily.
As gaming operators have been renewing their licenses without any problems over the years, they have a legitimate expectation that same will be renewed as this affects their livelihoods unless, of course, they fail to comply with any regulation in force which may justify the refusal to renew their licenses.
That is certainly not the case here as the Kedah MB has announced that the state will not renew their licenses based on his own personal beliefs which he has no right to do.
As MB, Sanusi cannot do anything he likes as he is bound by laws which he cannot ignore.
Denying operators the right to renew their licenses in this case is akin to telling them that he will deny them their right to renew such licenses even if they have complied with all the necessary rules and regulations simply because he wishes it.
This is clear dictatorship.
It is doubtful if Sanusi sought legal advice before making such an announcement as he would have been surely advised that he is abusing his power as MB if he did.
The Federal Government must intervene in this senseless act of the Kedah MB forthwith or risk be seen as weak in the eyes of the public as surely, such an act is not only illegal but totally unnecessary.
Dated this 14th of November, 2021.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
CHAIRMAN NATIONAL LEGAL BUREAU
DEMOCRATIC ACTION PARTY