CRIMES: awmakers across party lines have said the nation is not able to manage problems related to gambling, the Anti-Gambling Legislation Alliance director said
By Chen Wei-han / Staff reporter
Democratic Progressive Party （DPP） lawmakers and gambling opponents yesterday expressed opposition to a casino proposal ahead of a referendum for Kinmen County residents to decide if a casino should be built in the county, with lawmakers proposing scraping a law that allows referendums on gambling.
The referendum is to be held on Oct. 28, and according to the Offshore Islands Development Act （離島建設條例）, if “yes” votes account for more than half of the valid votes cast, without a minimum voter turnout requirement, it would be approved.
It will be the first casino referendum in Kinmen.
Penghu County has twice rejected casino proposals in referendums in 2009 and last year, while Matsu residents voted in favor of building a casino resort in a 2012 referendum, although none have yet been built.
DPP legislators Wu Yu-chin （吳玉琴）, Chen Man-li （陳曼麗） and Wu Kuen-yuh （吳焜裕）, as well as members of the Anti-Gambling Legislation Alliance yesterday held a media conference calling for Kinmen residents to vote “no.”
The referendum question — “To revive Kinmen’s economy and create development, do you approve of establishing an international resort, with 5 percent of the resort area open to tourism gambling?” — is leading and uninformed voters could be mislead, alliance director Ho Tsung-hsun （何宗勳） said.
The rate of gambling-related crime has increased in Kinmen, reaching 2.1 percent of criminal activity in the county last year; a five-year-high and three times higher than the gambling-related crime rate in 2015, Ho said.
If the proposal is approved, the crime rate could continue to climb, Ho said.
“I have visited former president Ma Ying-jeou （馬英九）, [New Taipei City Mayor] Eric Chu （朱立倫） and [People First Party Chairman] James Soong （宋楚瑜） and President Tsai Ing-wen （蔡英文）. Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] politicians and Soong said in private that Taiwan does not have the ability to manage [problems related to] casinos, but they refuse to make a public statement [on the casino issue] and only the DPP is willing to make its stance clear,” Ho said.
Wu Yu-chin and Chen have proposed scraping the so-called “gambling clause” of the act, which authorizes outlying islands to hold casino referendums.
The “gambling clause” has prompted gambling proponents to lobby leaders and officials on outlying islands to launch a referendum campaigns, although residents want to maintain peace and safety, Chen said.
Even if the referendum is approved, there is no legal grounds for the building of a casino because the Legislative Yuan in July last year rejected a draft bill on casino management, Wu Yu-chin said.