Fri, Oct 20, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Kinmen residents urged to return for plebiscite

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Members of a coalition of civil groups urge Kinmen County residents to vote against legalizing gambling in the county during a protest at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Anti-gambling activists and representatives from various religious groups yesterday urged Kinmen residents to return home and vote “no” to legalized gambling in a referendum scheduled for Saturday next week.

The referendum is crucial because it will not only determine the future of gambling on Taiwan’s outlying islands, but it could also end calls for the legalization of gambling, Taiwan Coalition Against Legalized Gambling executive director Ho Tsung-hsu (何宗勳) said.

“People in Penghu have voted in two separate referendums to reject legalized gambling. If people in Kinmen [County] also choose to veto the legalization of gambling, it would de facto abolish Article 10-2 of the Offshore Islands Development Act [離島建設條例], which forms the legal basis for opening a casino on outlying islands,” he said.

Article 10-2 stipulates that before an offshore island can permit the establishment of tourist casinos, a local referendum must be held in accordance with the Referendum Act (公民投票法), with more than half of valid votes cast in favor of allowing casinos.

The island that survived artillery attacks in the 1949 Battle of Guningtou and in the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis is now facing an attack from casinos, Buddhist master Shih Chao-hwei (釋昭慧) said.

People in Kinmen have reached a crossroad again, she said.

“Macau and Singapore have showed that locals, rather than tourists, quickly become victims of gambling,” she said, adding that gaming is a sinful industry.

Yang Tsai-ping (楊再平), founder of the Anti-Casino Movement in Kinmen, said he had urged the government to lift all military regulations imposed on Kinmen many years ago, but it had never occurred to him that one day he would be opposing the establishment of casinos on the island.

People on Kinmen have lived through wars, Yang said, adding that future generations on the island should not have to live through disasters caused by gambling.

Not voting in the referendum would allow casino operators to reap the benefits, he said.

Greed is the root of all evil, Presbyterian Pastor Lin Wei-lien (林偉聯) said, adding that the government should not use the Offshore Islands Development Act or boosting the economy as excuses to build casinos on the outlying islands.

Legalizing gambling would set a bad example for children and cause the crime rate in Kinmen to rise, Lin said, adding that people in Kinmen need to think twice before they vote and must not pursue short-term benefit.

Catholicism teaches that people need to work for a living, said Father Ollevier Willy of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Casinos allow people to make money without having to earn it themselves, Willy said, adding that Kinmen should develop and progress normally.

The government should increase flights and shipping services for people to return home and vote in the referendum, Taiwan Private School Employee Union chairman Wang Hong-nan (王宏男) said.

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