Sat, Feb 07, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Little Kinmen to hold referendum on casinos in April

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Little Kinmen, or Lieyu (烈嶼), an islet township just west of Kinmen, has decided to hold a referendum in April to allow its residents to determine whether casinos should be built on the island, sources from Kinmen said on Thursday.

Speaking at a Kinmen County Government meeting, Lieyu Township Chief Lin Chin-liang (林金量) said that the referendum would be held on April 4 to gauge residents’ opinions on whether the 16.23km2 islet should be developed into a casino resort.

Lin said the number of eligible voters on Lieyu totaled about 5,000, and they would cast their ballots at five polling stations located around the township.

If the number of supporters of the motion exceeds half of the ballots cast, the township office will refer the referendum results to the Kinmen County Government to be used as reference when it considers pushing for casino resort development on Kinmen, Lin said.

Lin said he favored the passage of the casino plan in the referendum so that Lieyu, which has an area about the size of Macao, could be developed into a “Little Macao.”

He said that his office conducted a public opinion poll among Lieyu residents last July and found that 92 percent favored the idea of building casinos.

The legislature passed a draft amendment on Jan. 12 legalizing gambling on Taiwan’s outlying islands.

The amendment said that referendums should be held on the islands to allow residents to determine whether casinos should be built in their areas.

Casino building plans require “yes” votes from more than half of the total ballots cast in the referendums, the recently enacted amendment said.

Kinmen County Commissioner Lee Chu-feng (李炷烽) welcomed Lieyu’s referendum plan.

He said the Kinmen county government would offer all possible assistance to facilitate the referendum.

Lee also suggested during the meeting that more issues should be included in the referendum to probe opinions on other matters involving the community, including whether a bridge should be built connecting Kinmen and Lieyu, whether Kinmen should be completely demilitarized and whether a bridge should be built between Lieyu and nearby Xiamen City in China.

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