Sun, Oct 16, 2016 - Page 1 News List

Penghu says no to casinos for second time

HEDGING BETS:For Penghu to continue developing the central government needs to amend flaws in the Offshore Islands Development Act, the county commissioner said

By William Hetherington  /  Staff writer, with CNA

A coalition of groups opposed to gambling in Penghu County celebrate the result of a referendum on legalizing casinos, as the majority of the population yesterday voted “No.”

Photo: CNA

Penghu residents yesterday voted against the development of a local gambling industry in the second casino referendum held in the outlying county.

Residents cast their votes between 8am and 4pm at 114 polling stations across the county and tallying of votes began immediately after polls closed.

The Penghu County Election Commission announced the referendum result at 6pm, saying that with a total of 83,469 eligible voters, 6,210 voted for the proposal and 26,598 voted against, while 216 cast invalid ballots.

The voter turnout was 39.56 percent, it added.

This was the second vote on the issue, with the first held in 2009 when 42.16 percent of 73,651 eligible voters turned out for the referendum, with 13,397 voting for the casino plan and 17,359 voting against it.

Prior to yesterday’s referendum, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had said that gambling is not the only path for the development of tourism in the archipelago, with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) adding that even if the vote had passed, draft legislation for the management of casino resorts at outlying islands would not have passed.

Chen Meng (陳猛), the convener of an alliance that was pushing for the legalization of gambling in Penghu, said: “Voter sentiment was affected by the president’s involvement in the issue.”

Chen said that he would not push for another vote on the issue.

If Penghu is to continue developing, it can only rely on outside help, Chen said, adding that he hopes the central government would help develop the islands.

Penghu County Commissioner Chen Kuang-fu (陳光復) said he respects the outcome of the vote.

The results clearly show that Penghu residents do not want to bet the county’s development on the gambling industry, he said.

Chen Kuang-fu said the population has increased by 2,000 households, the number of companies in the county has increased to 500 and 1 million people have visited the islands this year.

Chen Kuang-fu said the county is moving forward and he hopes the central government would amend flaws in the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例), which he said is an ongoing point of contention between Taipei and the local government that arises every three years to the detriment of the county.

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said the result of the vote is a democratic demonstration of the public’s will regarding public policy and that such public participation in democracy is worth encouraging.

DPP spokesperson Yang Chia-liang (楊家俍) said the DPP fully respects the decision of the people of Penghu County.

Yang said he believes the central government would continue to develop Penghu and take care of its residents, adding that it would do its best to help Penghu develop its tourism industry through focusing on its unique local character and to develop facilities toward that aim.

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