Court decision on state govt’s move to ban licence renewal as ‘unconstitutional’ is welcoming, says Numbers Forecast Operators

ALOR SETAR: Numbers forecast operators welcome the decision by the Alor Setar High Court that ruled the Kedah state government's decision to ban the renewal of business premises licences as unconstitutional.

In a joint statement, STM Lottery Sdn Bhd (STM Lottery) and Magnum Corporation Sdn Bhd (Magnum) described the ruling as significant for licence Number Forecast Operators (NFO) in the country and the licenced pool betting business in Kedah.

"This landmark decision affirms the supremacy of the Federal Constitution and underscores the principle that the executive authority of a state cannot extend to matters beyond the legislative competence of that State's Legislature," the statement said.

The statement said the state government's decision to not approve new business premises licences for licenced pool betting and refusal to renew existing licenced pool betting business premises' licences effective from 1 January 2023 has caused financial strain for the

agents, their employees and respective family members.

It also said the ban on NFO outlets has negatively impacted agents and their employees’ income and has had significant consequences for those who lost their livelihoods, leading them to face financial hardship and emotional distress.

Assistant General Manager (North) of STM Lottery said they welcome the High Court’s decision which further held that the exercise of powers by the state government should be consistent with the powers of the federal government as stipulated in the Federal Constitution.

He said since the day we were forced to shut down our business, our employees, who are mainly from the lower income group, were forced to abandon their hometown to be transferred to other outlets in adjacent states and those who faced difficulties and left their hometowns had become unemployed.

“We hope the state government will facilitate us in our efforts to renew business’ premises’ licences for licenced pool betting and allow our agents to recommence their licenced pool betting outlets as soon as possible,” he said.

Magnum regional head (northern) Suy Kok Yik also expressed heartfelt gratitude, saying that the recent High Court ruling marks a significant milestone that brings immense relief and renewed hope to their agents.

"For more than 17 months, they have faced substantial financial burdens due to business disruptions. This decision alleviates those hardships and paves the way for a brighter future, enabling our agents to rebuild and continue their work with greater stability.

"We are gratified by the High Court's recognition of our position that the law was on our side. One of the objectives for Wednesday’s (July 10) session is to ensure that our agents' voices and stories are heard in a more appropriate manner," he said.

Earlier, it was reported that the Alor Setar High Court had ruled that the decision by the Kedah government to cease issuing and renewing local business premises licences for number forecast operators was unconstitutional.

The court here found that the decision, made during a state executive council meeting, was ultra vires and violated the Federal Constitution.

Justice Mahazan Mat Taib delivered the judgment on June 20, ruling in favour of the representatives of three betting companies that sued the Kedah government.

The High Court also ordered the defendants – the Kedah government, Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, Alor Setar City Council, and its mayor Datuk Mohd Yusri Md Daud – to compensate the plaintiffs for their losses.

Meanwhile, Sinar Harian reported following the High Court's decision, the Kedah Legal Adviser Office had filed a notice of appeal at the Court of Appeal on June 24.

Sanusi was also quoted as saying that a stay of execution notice for the High Court decision had also been filed on July 4.

He told reporters after chairing the state executive council meeting in Wisma Darulaman here on Wednesday.

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