Fri, 25 Feb 2000

Government may reject Damura if it boosts gambling

JAKARTA (JP): Fund-raising program Damura (the People's Fund for Sports) should not be launched if it encourages gambling, said State Minister of Social Affairs Anak Agung Gde Agung on Thursday.

"We'll look at the positive and negative aspects (of the program) before deciding if we can go on. We also have to discuss the program with the House of Representatives," he was quoted by Antara as saying.

Agung said he would meet with representatives of the National Sports Council (KONI), the Office of the State Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, PT Mutiara Mandala Mahardhika (3M), the Indonesian Ulemas Council and the Indonesian Consumers Agency next week.

"We realize that sports need funding but it must not break the rules of society," he said.

Separately, KONI secretary-general Rudolf S. Warouw said on Thursday the council and PT 3M would hold discussions on Friday prior to a hearing with House of Representatives Commission VI for religion and human resources on March 14.

"Reports in newspapers and on television really help us to evaluate and improve the program. We will reconsider the right method of controlling distribution and providing transparent financial reports.

"All input will be discussed here and we will also meet with the Indonesian Ulemas Council before the hearing with the House," he said.

Warouw said numerous people had criticized the small percentage of revenue from Damura which would go toward sports development in the country.

"The 6.5 percent of revenue KONI will receive from Damura has been considered too small for sports development. However, that figure is counted from gross revenue. If we count it from PT 3M's profit, they will give us 54 percent of total profit," he said.

Indonesian Taekwondo Association secretary-general Ahmad Zarkasih Hamid said the 6.5 percent of Damura revenue was meaningless.

"When we sold SDSB lottery tickets, each year sports organizations could afford to stage national championships in the country and send athletes overseas," he said. "Approximately, each organization received Rp 500 million (US$67,570) each year."

Zarkasih suggested PT 3M make changes so the percentage of prize money would not eclipse the percentage of money going to sports development.

"If they say the prize money will be 50 percent of total revenue while KONI is only receiving 6.5 percent, then PT 3M must change it. The contribution toward sports must be larger than the prize money. They can also give away items as prizes instead of money," he said.

The Damura program has been the focus of controversy since KONI announced the program in April. Each ticket will be sold for Rp 5,000 (70 U.S. cents). People who purchase the tickets have the opportunity to win between Rp 5,000 and Rp 25 million in prize money. The tickets also give people the chance to receive life insurance for one month, and customers can also use the tickets for an opportunity to win scholarships.

KONI desperately needs funds for sports development, which costs approximately Rp 100 billion each year.

In Padang, the West Sumatra council voiced opposition to Damura, saying it could encourage people to gamble.

"What does KONI want, to promote sports or gambling," asked Masfar Rasyid, the council's deputy chairman.

In Surabaya, an official from the East Java chapter of Nahdlatul Ulama, Salam Nawawi, said Damura could encourage gambling because it promised prize money.

"It's exactly the same as the now-banned lottery from the late 1980s and early 1990s. If people want to donate their money for sports development, let them do that. Don't promise them any prizes," he said. (28/yan)