Premier approves Penghu casino plebiscite

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jun 19, 2009 - Page 1

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) on Wednesday approved a Penghu County Government request to hold a referendum on whether to allow casinos in the county, Executive Yuan spokesman Su Jun-ping (蘇俊賓) said yesterday.

Su said the Executive Yuan would draw up complementary measures to ensure the casinos do not adversely affect the environment or the quality of tourism and public order.

AMENDMENT

The amendments to the Offshore Island Development Act (離島建設條例) adopted by the Legislative Yuan in January allow the construction of casinos offshore if more than 50 percent of an island’s population agree in a referendum.

The Penghu County Government in April submitted an application to the Executive Yuan’s Referendum Review Commission to initiate a referendum on the issue.

The initiative was launched by a business association in the county.

“The Referendum Review Commission has given a green light to the application and therefore Penghu County Government can proceed with the procedures stipulated in the Offshore Island Development Act for holding a referendum,” Su said.

In accordance with Act, Penghu County Government is required to collect 3,521 signatures, or 5 percent of the electorate in the last county commissioner election in 2005, within six months and send the list of signatures to the county’s Referendum Review Commission for examination.

Penghu County Commissioner Wang Chien-fa (王乾發) recently said that a referendum on the issue could be staged by August at the earliest.

LANDING VISAS

In related news, Su also confirmed a report in yesterday’s Chinese-language United Daily News that landing visas for Chinese visitors, currently available in Kinmen and Matsu, would soon be extended to Chinese visitors traveling to Penghu.

“Some Penghu County residents and lawmakers have been calling for such a move recently. Granting [Chinese tourists] landing visas would boost tourism in Penghu. That, however, will not be the deciding factor,” Su said.

He said the landing visa service in Penghu would not be implemented until the Ministry of the Interior’s Mainland Affairs Council and the National Immigration Agency came up with complementary measures to address security concerns.

Starting on Sept. 30 last year, the government began issuing landing visas to Chinese tourists visiting Kinmen and Matsu.

The landing visa allows Chinese tourists to travel to Penghu, but not to Taiwan proper.