Tue, Dec 09, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Presidential Office rebuts reports of casino task force

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Presidential Office yesterday dismissed reports that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had asked that a task force be formed to study the possibility of establishing casinos on the nation’s outlying islands — one of his campaign promises.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said Ma had not ordered that a task force be created to look into the matter, which he said was the jurisdiction of the Council for Economic Planning and Development.

“The president’s position on the issue is clear,” Wang said. “However, he does not have any special instructions at the moment.”

Wang said Ma was in favor of establishing casinos in Penghu County, but that the islands must be ready and their residents must support the idea before the plan could proceed.

Wang made the remarks in response to a report published in yesterday’s Chinese-language Economic Daily News.

The report said that “high-level officials” at the Presidential Office yesterday were scheduled to meet a US delegation interested in opening casinos on Taiwan’s outlying islands. The report also said the Presidential Office planned to form a task force to help expedite the legislation process.

Wang said that Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Lai Feng-wei (賴峰偉) had planned to meet a delegation from Nevada, but canceled the meeting. Since Lai once served as Penghu County commissioner, Wang said that it only made sense for Lai to meet people in the casino industry to gain a better understanding of the issue and help Ma realize his election promise.

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