Thu, Sep 24, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Activists protest against casinos outside the MOE

COURSES QUERIED One demonstrator said it was not appropriate for colleges to offer classes about working in casinos in an effort to train ‘gambling experts’

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Anti-casino activists demonstrated outside the Ministry of Education (MOE) yesterday to protest its budget of NT$6.3 million (US$194,000) to subsidize casino courses in colleges.

“We need moral education, not gambling education!” dozens of anti-casino activists shouted as they protested outside the ministry.

“Our government is spending NT$6.3 to teach our people how to gamble — it is ridiculous that the government wants to train ‘gambling experts,’” said Joanna Feng (馮喬蘭), executive director of the Humanistic Education Foundation. “Especially when the people of Penghu are yet to vote in the casino referendum.”

Feng was referring to a referendum to be held in Penghu on Saturday on whether casino resorts should be allowed in the county.

The legislature amended the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例) to allow offshore islands to open casino resorts as a way of attracting more tourism.

Penghu has been the most active county on the issue and will hold the country’s first casino referendum.

Several colleges and universities have designed casino-related courses as part of their tourism studies courses, Feng questioned if the timing was appropriate since no casino referendum has been voted on yet, and that the casino programs offered by many colleges include a 21-hour session on introducing game rules and internships.

“The Ministry of Education is obviously in violation of the anti-gambling articles in the Criminal Code,” Feng said.

Green Party Taiwan Secretary-General Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) warned that many colleges have used false information in their ads for casino classes, and urged the ministry to suspend subsidies for casino courses until the curriculums can be investigated.

“Consumer protection officers should probe these classes,” he said.

Ni Chou-hua (倪周華), a section chief in the ministry’s Department of Higher Education, said 10 schools had applied to offer a total of 64 casino-related courses, but none taught gambling techniques.

Meanwhile, Penghu Prosecutor Wu Hsun-lung (吳巡龍) reacted to criticism of his comments against building casinos in Penghu.

Wu said if it was not appropriate for him to speak against casinos as a prosecutor, he would resign in order to take part in the anti-casino campaign.

Minister of Justice Wang Ching-feng (王清峰) told the legislature last week that it was inappropriate for Wu to speak against casinos as a prosecutor.

The Ministry of Justice later clarified Wang’s statement, saying it was inappropriate for Wu to make anti-casino remarks in his role as prosecutor, but OK if he was speaking as an individual.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY FLORA WANG

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