Thu, Jun 21, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Activists question Matsu official’s ethics over casino

CONFLICTING ALLEGATIONS:An anti-gambling group called on the Lienchiang County boss to explain himself after a report alleged he takes part in pro-casino events

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

The Alliance Against the Legalization of Gambling yesterday accused the Lienchiang County Government — which administers the Matsu (馬祖) archipelago — of a conflict of interest involving Weidner Resorts, which has shown interest in building a casino resort in Matsu if a referendum approves it.

The group was referring to a report published by the Chinese-language Next Magazine yesterday, which said Lienchiang County Commissioner Yang Sui-sheng (楊綏生) has frequently participated in events organized by Weidner Resorts and handed out prizes such as iPads, cameras and stereos.

As a referendum on whether Matsu will allow a casino resort to be built is scheduled for July 7, the magazine questioned whether irregularities were involved.

“This is shocking to know, but not surprising,” alliance executive director Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) said. “Yang should explain his relationship with Weidner Resorts within three days, otherwise we will file complaints with the Ministry of Justice and the Agency Against Corruption.”

Ho said Matsu residents who attended Weidner events told him that besides Yang, there were also county government employees at the venues distributing booklets encouraging residents to support casino resorts in Matsu.

“The county government should be neutral on the issue, it should not take sides, but obviously the county supports building casino resorts,” Ho said.

Alliance convener Shih Chao-hui (釋昭慧) said the group has repeatedly reminded Yang about the negative aspects of casino tourism.

“The resort is yet to be built and there’s already this corporation making unrealistic promises, deceiving Matsu residents,” Shih said.

“We hereby call on the county government to suspend the referendum before it’s too late,” Shih added. “It’s not just the commissioner’s name that could be destroyed, but the future of Matsu as well.”

Amendments to the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例) in January 2009 allow casinos to be constructed on outlying islands if local voters approve them in a referendum.

The first referendum took place in Penghu County in October that year, and 56.44 percent of the Penghu electorate voted against allowing casinos, while 43.56 percent voted for them, despite strong support for the proposal from the county government.

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