Lee 'dead set' against gambling but casino decision not his to make - Tuesday 12th of April 2005

Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew said in remarks published Thursday he is "dead set" against gambling but the decision to go ahead with the city-state's first ever casino rests on the younger crop of leaders.

The government will announce on April 18 whether it will give the green light for the casino project, which has sparked a rare public outcry in the country, where voices of dissent against the ruling party are rarely heard.

"I am dead set against gambling," Lee was quoted as saying in the Business Times. "I don't believe you can get rich by gambling."

Lee, who was speaking at a business luncheon in Hong Kong on Wednesday, said the casino project was a "tough call" but the final decision was out of his hands.

"This is a judgement call for a younger generation of leaders to make," said the 81-year-old Lee, who now holds the special title "minister mentor" in the cabinet of his son, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

"It's a different Singapore from the one I governed," said Lee, Singapore's first prime minister, widely credited for transforming the island from a third world trading port to one of Asia's wealthiest economies.

Ever since the government said last year it was considering a casino-style resort complex, various groups have warned the move could have a detrimental effect on society.

The government argued the project would boost the tourism industry and analysts have said the casino project could contribute up to 1.5 billion US dollars in revenues annually to the economy.

Should the green light be given, a list of social safeguards would be put in place to prevent Singaporeans, especially those who could least afford to gamble away their wages, from visiting the casino, the government had said.

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