Anti-gambling activists yesterday acted out a mock street drama to protest against the legislature’s review of a proposed bill to regulate casinos on outlying islands.
The drama “celebrated” the fifth anniversary of the founding of what the protesters termed the “Republic of Casino,” referring to the passing of the Amendments to Off-Shore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例) in January 2009.
Singing a song praising casinos to the tune of the Republic of China national anthem, the activists raised a “Republic of Casino” flag, which mimicked Taiwan’s flag with the image depicting a sun replaced with an image of a die.
“The government celebrated the arrival of last year’s 8 millionth tourist on Friday and announced the objective this year is to attract 9 million visitors,” said Pan Han-shen (潘翰聲), a long-time environmental and anti-gambling activist. “Growing visitor numbers show Taiwan is already attractive to travelers, and there is no need to build casinos.”
“Tourism is tourism, gambling is gambling, and casinos are casinos, there is no such thing as casino tourism,” he added.
Seeds of Culture Association secretary-general Chang Ling-chen (張零袗) agreed.
“I would like to ask lawmakers to ask themselves whether it is necessary to legalize gambling, and whether we are prepared for it,” she said. “There is no return once gambling is legalized, and I am concerned the government is not capable of dealing with the negative consequences that would come with it.”
While speaking against creating casinos on outlying islands, Anti-Gambling Legislation Alliances executive director Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) also called on Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislators Chen Ken-te (陳根德) and Alex Tsai (蔡正元) to withdraw their proposals to legalize gambling on Taiwan proper.
Following the passage of the Amendments to the Off-Shore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例) in 2009, Penghu County residents rejected a proposal to build a casino resort on their island through a referendum in the same year.
In 2012, Matsu residents gave their consent to a casino proposal.