KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor has told Federal Territory MPs that the proposal to hold motorcycle races on city streets is to combat illegal betting that comes with the "mat rempit" culture.
The Federal Territories Minister faced harsh feedback from mostly Opposition MPs in Kuala Lumpur, who argued that legalising street races would not curtail betting.
Speaking to reporters after a closed-door meeting with the MPs on Wednesday, Tengku Adnan said plans to close some roads to allow races were still on the table.
"It's one of the ways to let them do what they love," he said, adding that he had been made aware of syndicates that organised bets during the illegal races.
Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng said the matter of legalising the races was talked about for 15 minutes, but the minister did not give details on his plans on how to make it work.
"He said he was still talking to agencies like the police but that we had to do it. I asked him if he was serious. He challenged me to go down to the road in the middle of the night at Maju Junction to listen to what was going on," he said.
The minister said that by regulating the races, the city would be able to rein in betting syndicates.
Lim and Opposition MPs, however, disagreed.
"We were stunned," he said. "If you legalise motor racing, the public can bet even more because it will be legal!" he said.
Lim also said that Labuan MP Datuk Rozman Isli volunteered his constituency to host legalised street races, but Tengku Adnan rejected the offer.
Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai said the minister's suggestion went against taxpayers' interests, as closing the roads and having police and City Hall officers monitor the races would be a waste of public funds.
A poll conducted by The Star Online last week showed that 92% of respondents did not agree with Tengku Adnan's proposal.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had also disagreed with the proposal, saying that public roads were not the right place to hold races.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar was also guarded on his opinion, saying he wanted to discuss the proposal with Tengku Adnan.
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