Malaysian National News Agency

Osu's Gambling Debts Shocked His Supporters
July 17, 2005 15:16 PM
By Newmond Tibin

PAPAR (Sabah), July 17 (Bernama) -- The news of former Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Osu Sukam owing more than RM7 million in gambling debts to a London casino shocked the nation but to his relatives and friends in his birth village in Kawang, near here, it was a tragedy.

Almost all of them were as though could not believe initially that Osu, who represented Papar as its member of parliament for four terms until last year, could be saddled with millions of ringgit in debts at a casino overseas.

Ritz Hotel Casino in London failed in its bid at the Kota Kinabalu High Court on July 5 to register the judgment it obtained from the High Court in England to recover Osu's debts with the casino but this did not ease the disappointment among his relatives and supporters here.

"I did not expect at all he was involved in gambling abroad. Initially, I was doubtful because in my heart I was thinking maybe people used his name.

"To me, this is a tragedy or an unexpected incident which really shocked all of us in Papar," said Osu's former special aid who declined to be identified.

A man who claimed to be Osu's loyal voter in Pengalat, near here, said it never crossed his mind that Osu could gamble to that extent because his name has been etched in Sabah politics as a well-known leader.

"We regret, feel sad and disappointed because his downfall is because of gambling. Osu has done a lot for the Papar people and discharged his duties well as an elected representative," he said.

The sadness is also felt by Osu's relatives.

"Our families are shocked to read the case of Osu owing gambling debts in the newspapers. His courteous and polite nature belie the fact that he is a gambler. We feel shame too," said a man who claimed to have family ties with Osu.

Osu, 56, was Sabah's 12th Chief Minister for two years from March 1999 under the then rotation system of the post among leaders of the three major races in the state -- Muslim Bumiputeras, non-Muslim Bumiputeras and Chinese.

Prior to that, he was Deputy Chief Minister and also served as Land and Cooperative Development Minister in the Federal Government.

Commenting on Osu's casino debt startling revelation, former Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak said: "I've not seen anyone becoming rich from gambling because after winning, he will gamble again."

"The vicious circle just continues. Usually, they will be attracted to gambling because it gives them hope.

According to Salleh, Osu's gambling debts cannot be viewed as an isolated case....we must see it in a wider perspective. When a person is involved in gambling, many possibilities can happen, including other negative influences. So, it must be curbed," he said.

Therefore, all parties, including the government, must make serious efforts to instil awareness among the people to hate gambling, he said.

On Sabah political leaders who gambled millions of ringgit in casinos abroad, Salleh hoped Osu's case would serve as a lesson to them.


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