Fri, Jan 11, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Colleagues bribed, say DPP legislators

GAMBLING Two DPP lawmakers claim that up to 20 legislators have accepted bribes of between NT$500,000 and NT$3 million to approve an amendment that would legalize video-game parlors again after a two-year hiatus

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP lawmakers Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) and Chang Chin-fang (張清芳) yesterday alleged that nearly 20 lawmakers from different political parties were bribed by video-game parlor owners to pass an amendment to the Electronic Game Regulation Act.

"The amendment is scheduled for its second reading and it's quite possible that it could become law before the [current legislative] session ends on Jan. 18," Yeh said.

"If it becomes law, investigators will have great difficulty cracking down on video games involved in gambling and it concerns us that more and more people, especially teenagers, will then begin to indulge in gambling."

The law, which took effect on Feb. 3, 2000, outlaws video-game parlors. The amendment is designed to legalize the parlors while continuing to ban only video games that involve gambling.

Chang said the scandal involved lawmakers from different parties but that it was inappropriate for her to name them at this stage, "because we still need their support to pass other bills before the end of the session."

She said that any liberalization of the law would invite unlawful gambling.

"These colleagues of mine accepted sums ranging from between NT$500,000 and NT$3 million from the parlor owners. That's why they expedited the review process and are trying to pass the amendment before Jan. 18," she said.

KMT lawmaker Hsu Shu-po (許舒博), who proposed the amendment, said that neither Yeh nor Chang had read the proposed change carefully. Hsu said the amendment would lead to the further growth of video-game parlors and the goal is to create jobs.

"The bottom line for this law is to eliminate any form of video game involving gambling," Hsu said. "As a result, there won't be a problem in regard to gambling. Also, under the amendment, once a player spends more than NT$1,000, he or she will be entitled to a gift worth NT$200 from the parlor.

"I think they have greatly misunderstood. Plus, by my estimation, if the amendment is passed, 1,000 job opportunities will be created nationwide. Of course we should endorse a bill like this."

DPP lawmaker Cho Jung-tai (卓榮泰) voted in favor of the amendment at its first reading last week. He said that Yeh and Chang should not make allegations without supplying evidence.

"They have not provided a list of the lawmakers they are accusing -- nor details of how much money was involved," Cho said. "That being so, they should not have made the accusations in public."

PFP lawmaker Chou Hsi-wei (周錫瑋) voted against the amendment but said that many parlor owners called him to complain that he had done so.

"As a PFP legislator," he said, "I must follow the party's policy and that's why I did not vote in favor. But people in the business called me to complain ... But I will do the right thing despite the threats and pressure that I'm suffering."

Video-game parlors abound in Taiwan despite the law and are widely suspected of regularly bribing officials to prevent their closure.

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