Indonesia's Minister of Culture & Tourism, Mr. I Gde Ardika, has reiterated his opposition to the introduction of gambling as a means of raising much needed foreign exchange.
In comments made at a coordinating meeting for tourism held in Kupang (21/10), the Minister reacted strongly to renewed efforts by some Indonesian businessmen to establish "gambling islands," depicting gambling as a "blight" on the people with the potential of destroying the mentality of the nation's youth. Emphasizing that Indonesian culture wants nothing to do with such activities, he defended his position by pointing out that among all the major religions practiced in the Country, all forbid gambling.
Minister Ardika, who originates from Bali, was confronting head on those who are actively lobbying local legislatures for permission to establish remote gambling islands as a means to raise foreign exchange. Those who support such plans, including a prominent Balinese businessman and tourism figure, acknowledge the local sensitivity to gambling practice suggesting that the proposed gambling centers would be "off-limits" to the indigenous population, following the practice of Malaysia in the operation of its large gaming industry. In response, the Minister insisted that raising foreign exchange was not the "be all and end all" of tourism, stating that tourism must strive to also to develop and preserve local community values.
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