Sat, Jul 07, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Casino campaigners make final push

By Lin Shu-huei, Lin Chia-chi and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with Staff writer

Supporters and opponents of the proposal to build a casino resort in Matsu yesterday made their separate pushes ahead of a referendum on the issue slated for today.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) called on the residents of Matsu to vote “no” to the casino.

The government has no standing laws or regulations concerning special casino areas, with no designated agency within the government governing the regulation of casinos and gambling and no amendment to the Criminal Code, he said in a post on his Facebook page, adding that it was hard to imagine that the government would be capable of establishing and managing a casino.

The people of Matsu should prevent their home from becoming a governmental experiment by being brave and voting against the casino, Su added.

Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also voiced her opposition to the plan, saying she hoped Matsu residents would consider the protection of Matsu’s ecology and way of life so that future generations would have a better environment to grow up in.

Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien yesterday also expressed a similar view, saying Matsu residents should have the courage and vision to vote against the project.

Lienchiang County Commissioner Yang Sui-sheng (楊綏生) said yesterday that he personally had no interest at all in gambling and that he had only hoped to attract the central government’s attention to the lack of resources the county suffered from with the casino project.

“I’m not afraid of getting wet now that I’m in the water,” Yang said, adding that he firmly believed the only way the archipelago would be able to develop tourism was through the casino-building project and that he would stand firm against opposition to the casino because of that belief.

“If it were not for the fact that we were unable to negotiate with the central government and obtain funds needed for road construction, we would not have stooped to the level of using the casino building project as a bargaining chip,” Yang said, adding that “despite the fact that we are holding the referendum, the central government has not responded in any way.”

In response to criticism that his support for gambling on Matsu was akin to “opening Pandora’s Box” and that no matter what the outcome of the referendum, he would be remembered as a supporter of gambling, Yang said: “My personal honor is not important in the face of this issue.”

“A person who was against gambling asked me how I would live with my conscience if some Matsu residents lost everything they had in terms of material wealth and even lost their families due to the casino in Matsu and I said to him that I am a man of faith and believe in karma,” Yang said.

According to the Lienchiang County Government, among the 7,762 people eligible to vote in the referendum today, about 50 percent — or 3,500 voters — would cast their vote and the difference between those who are for and those who are against the casino could be as little as 100 votes.

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