The review of a proposed casino act was placed on hold yesterday as lawmakers opposed to the legislation demanded more time to study all the relevant information.
Legislators from the transportation, economic and judiciary committees were yesterday scheduled to review the act governing the management of casino resorts (觀光賭場管理條例) bill proposed by the Executive Yuan.
They were also to consider two similar drafts proposed by Independent Legislator Chen Hsuen-sheng (陳雪生) and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元).
They were also supposed to review an amendment to the International Airport Park Development Act (國際機場園區發展條例) proposed by several legislators including KMT Legislator Chen Ken-te (陳根德), which would allow casinos to be built within the boundaries of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project.
According to the proposed amendment, casinos would be located in the airport’s free trade zone, and people entering them must hold passports and may be exempt from paying customs tax.
At the meeting yesterday, lawmakers opposing the bill were angered by the non-appearance of Minister of Transportation and Communications Yeh Kuang-shih (葉匡時). They said they would not review the acts until Yeh came to the committee.
After Yeh arrived, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators demanded more time to study the proposed bills and asked Yeh to clarify the position of the Executive Yuan on casino resorts.
Yeh had said earlier that the revenue generated by a casino resort in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport could help fund the construction of a state-of-the-art airport in Matsu, which many legislators interpreted to mean that the Cabinet was considering the building of casinos on Taiwan proper rather than the nation’s outlying islands.
However, Executive Yuan secretary-general Chen Wei-jen (陳威仁) was reported to have said that the government is only allowing casinos to be built on the outlying islands, as stated in the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例).
DPP Legislator Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) said Chen Ken-te’s proposed amendment was problematic because it would “give other free-trade zones around the nation a legal basis to build casinos.”
DPP Legislators Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) and Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) asked how lawmakers were supposed to review these bills when they had yet to see the minutes of a public hearing on them, which was held on Wednesday.
DPP Legislator Chen Jie-ju (陳節如) said that when Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) was the Minister of Transportation and Communications, he had said that casinos must be strictly regulated by a specific government agency, which must also have the right to enforce laws comparable to that of the police.
“However, I have seen none of these items mentioned in the draft act,” she said.
In response, Yeh said the proposed act was drafted following the passage of the Offshore Islands Development Act.
Outlying islands that get receive a positive result on a referendum are able to build casinos, he said.