Sat, Jul 07, 2012 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: All bets off as fight against Matsu casino heats up

By Elaine Hou  /  CNA

In the letter, she also cast doubts over the benefits of setting up a casino, citing a previous referendum in Penghu on the same issue that failed.

In 2009, 17,359 people voted against allowing a casino resort to open in Penghu, with 13,397 voting in favor of the idea.

Following Penghu, Matsu is the second outlying island to hold a referendum on casino issue.

Echoing Huang’s remarks, the Green Party’s Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲) recently said that building casinos “is not the only way to develop the outlying islands,” as evidenced by Penghu’s thriving tourism which rejected its casino referendum.

Huang and Pan are not alone fighting their cause: Anti-gambling activists from Taiwan proper are also now in Matsu to observe the upcoming casino referendum.

There is also another anti-casino group made up of Matsu Aborigines that has been distributing flyers to local people and is to hold a blessing on the eve of the referendum day to pray for Matsu’s future, Tsao said.

Meanwhile, a Facebook page has been set up urging Matsu residents to reject the proposed casino.

Lienchiang government officials said 36 percent of the island’s voters are estimated to support the casino proposal, which is 4 percent more than those who oppose it, according to a local media report.

However, the Center for Prediction Markets under the Taipei-based National Chengchi University predicted on June 29 that the likelihood of Matsu passing the referendum stands at only 10 percent.

After spending days with the local people to get their message across, Tsao said “it is hard” to predict whether the referendum will pass or not, but Huang told Tsao she was still pleased to learn that her letter has helped raise the public’s awareness of the issue.

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