More than 17,000 Penghu residents voted against a plan to allow casino resorts in a referendum yesterday, defeating supporters of the casino plan by about 4,000.
Cheering, clapping and shouting “Penghu is hopeful,” members of the Penghu Alliance Against Casinos celebrated as the Penghu County Election Commission released the official results of the referendum.
With a total of more than 70,000 eligible voters, only about 42 percent, or a little more than 29,000 people, turned out to vote. Of them, 17,359 voted against the casino plan, while 13,397 voted for it.
The binding “gambling referendum” — the first of its kind in the country — was held in accordance with amendments to the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例), which passed the legislature in January.
Under the amendment, if the majority of voters had said “yes” in the referendum, Penghu would get the green light to authorize gaming groups to build casinos there.
Unlike the Referendum Act (公民投票法), which requires at least 50 percent of eligible voters to cast ballots for the referendum to be valid, the Penghu referendum was valid regardless of voter turnout.
Following the passage of amendments to the Offshore Islands Development Act that allows the nation’s outlying islands to build casino resorts, many local business leaders and politicians, such as Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Ping-kun (林炳坤), actively promoted the casino plan, saying that resorts could bring large numbers of visitors to Penghu and bring prosperity.
Anti-casino activists had expressed concern that casinos would bring criminal activity and cause environmental damage. They also said that only a handful of people — casino operators and politicians — would benefit from them.
The two sides have been intensively campaigning to mobilize support during the past months.
“The people made a wise decision,” said Yen Chiang-lung (顏江龍), a native of Penghu and the executive director of the Penghu Alliance Against Casinos.
“Now that the people have rejected the plan, the county government should reconsider its development strategy for Penghu and look into some of the proposals we’ve made,” he said.
Green Party Taiwan Secretary-General Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) welcomed the outcome.
“I’m sure the Japanese, who are having a similar debate about casino resorts, will take a serious look at the Penghu case,” he said.
Penghu County Commissioner Wang Chien-fa (王乾發), who has spoken in favor of casinos, said he respected the residents’ decision.
“I hope everyone in Penghu can stand united from now on for a better future for Penghu,” he said.
Lin declined to comment and left immediately after the results were announced.
ADDITONAL REPORTING BY CNA
At the start of their first-ever virtual World Health Assembly (WHA), WHO member states agreed to delay a controversial discussion on granting Taiwan observer status until later in the year. The agreement came after WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pledged to launch an independent probe to review the coronavirus pandemic response as soon as possible, and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) announced that China would provide US$2 billion over two years to fight the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout. Despite the US and other members stepping up pressure in recent days, the WHA unanimously agreed to postpone a decision on observer
Another automatic 30-day visa extension for foreigners who entered Taiwan on or before March 21 this year has been granted, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) announced yesterday during the Central Epidemic Command Center’s (CECC) daily news briefing. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had granted an initial automatic 30-day visa extension on March 21 for foreigners who entered Taiwan on or before that date with a visa waiver, visitor’s visa or landing visa — and another on April 17, as part of tightened border control measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Many foreigners who arrived in Taiwan on holidays or for
PROTEST SENT: Despite a wave of international support Taiwan did not receive an invite, which means that it and all WHO members would lose out, the two ministers said Taiwan deeply regrets and is very dissatisfied that it was not invited to attend the annual World Health Assembly (WHA), which began a virtual meeting yesterday, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said. During the Central Epidemic Command Center’s daily news conference, Chen, who heads the center, said that as of 2pm, Taiwan had not received an invitation to the meeting, which was to begin at 6pm Taiwan time. “We put in our efforts [to get invited] up until the last moment, but it seems that we are unlikely to be invited,
US lawmakers and officials are crafting proposals to push US companies to move operations or key suppliers out of China that include tax breaks, new rules and carefully structured subsidies. Interviews with a dozen current and former government officials, industry executives and members of Congress show widespread discussions underway — including the idea of a “reshoring fund” originally stocked with US$25 billion — to encourage US companies to drastically revamp their relationship with China. US President Donald Trump has long pledged to bring manufacturing back from overseas, but the spread of COVID-19 and related concerns about US medical and food supply chains