A consortium of Malaysian Chinese businessmen have got the green light to take over Pan Malaysian Pools Sdn Bhd, which runs the Da Ma Cai numbers betting outlet, with the government saying "it's a free market".
"It is his (referring to tycoon T Ananda Krishnan) company. It is a free market. Willing buyer and willing seller," Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is also finance minister, said today after chairing a National Finance Council meeting in Putrajaya.
Najib said although the Finance Ministry controlled the licence, the bid for the gaming company's assets was according free market principles.
Citing sources, business daily The Edge reported that the deal had been inked on Aug 2, at RM2.1 billion.
It was earlier reported that a group of 14 Chinese businessmen led by Genting Bhd's Lim Kok Thay were keen in acquiring Da Ma Cai, which is owned by energy tycoon Ananda Krisnan's (right) Tanjung group.
News reports say the businessmen aim to form a company called "Jana Pendidikan" to manage Da Ma Cai, and remit the gaming company's net profit into a fund to be used to aid the development of vernacular schools.
However, grassroots politicians from both sides of the political divide have raised concerns that the government could use this move as an excuse to stop allocating funds to Chinese and Tamil schools, which are partially aided by the state.
In addition, some criticised the deal as it would be "immoral" to use money earned from gambling to fund schools.