THE statement by Penampang Umno saying that the large number of private clubs in the Penampang District of Sabah having slot machines or one-arm bandits within their premises is turning Penampang into the casino capital of Malaysia, has prompted Borneopedia to conduct its own survey today on the existence of these clubs.
We found that there are not 10 such social, golf and recreational clubs within the boundaries of the district, as stated by Datuk John Ambrose, head of the Penampang Umno Division, but at least 11 of them.
The first one, by the name of Gold Star Sport & Recreation Club was spotted by the road side of Penampang’s main highway, Jalan Penampang opposite the Mandarin Park housing development.
This is among the older clubs that have been in operations for a few decades now, including the Ace Club at the other end of Jalan Bundusan, a short distance from the Jalan Kolam (Reservoir Road) intersection.
3.The Cempaka Square club house building that is located at the junction of Jalan Penampang and the old Penampang Road is one that has undergone expansions and renovations a number of times over the years.
Close by along the same Penampang thoroughfare is the Blue Seven that used to be housed at a small building next to the Borneo Resthouse. Two years ago it moved to an imposing new building across the road with a huge car park lot.
Situated opposite the Lido shops along the Lintas Highway, it has also moved into a much bigger building a short distance away.
The previous building occupied by the D Junction Club has made way for the annex of the The Kinabalu Club Annex that has its main clubhouse near Padang Mederka.
Among the grouses of John Ambrose, according to recent Daily Express reports, is that many of the clubs with slot machines have been relocated to Penampang from other districts of Sabah.
The Kinabalu Club is certainly one of them. Known previously as the Jesselton Club, it is one of the oldest recreation clubs in the state capital.
Going by the brand name of TNGC Clubhouse, it is strategically positioned on a hillock behind the Beverly Hills shops off Jalan Bundusan.
During our survey of the TNGC premises today, we were told that the initials TNGC stand for Tambunan Golf City and that the facilities at the clubhouse includes games room, sauna service, pool tables, dart corner, and swimming pools.
TNGC is the only such clubs in Penampang that boasts a nine-hole chip and putt facility within its compound. But like almost all others, it has a lounge and a café to boot.
As we have reported earlier, the latest addition to the scene is an imposing building by the roadside of Jalan Penampang a stone’s throw away from the Towering Shopping Centre, carrying the name Penampang Point at top of the tall structure.
But much smaller signs at the front and back entrances identify the place as ‘KGK Annex’, an off-shoot of Kelab Golf Kudat (KGK), or the Kudat Golf Club.
The Penampang Umno chief said in today’s DE report, “I’m not sure how the operators managed to relocate to Penampang, whether with or without permission.”
It has a big dinning hall on the ground floor known as the Tasty Wok close to the games room where slot machines are found, the Vino bar & grill and a gym on the top floor.
There is also one such club at the New Donggongon township not far from the Servay Hypermarket, known as the Jack & Pot, occupying the building previously used by the defunct Borneo Mail tabloid daily.
Yet another such one-arm bandit outlets our survey team identified today is the Damai Club, located close to the Bundusan Square, making it to a total of 11 by our count.
“They are targeting students and operating even at sundry shops near schools in the district,” he claims.