Misleading ballot wording could sway the result of Penghu’s referendum tomorrow on legalizing casinos, anti-gambling advocates told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday, promising to pursue legal action to nullify the results if the referendum passes.
Posing with their arms crossed in the shape of an “X” to symbolize a “no” vote in the referendum, environmental advocates and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators said they were concerned that the “shortened title” of the referendum — “Do you agree to establishing special tourism zones?” — would confuse voters.
The group said they were surprised when they saw the ballot for the first time on Wednesday, with the title listed directly above the box where voting stamps are placed, while the word “casino” is only mentioned in the full referendum question further down the page.
Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times
Previous referendums on Penghu and Matsu were simply titled a “referendum on gambling.”
“Agreeing to establishing ‘special tourism zones’ and ‘casinos’ are two fundamentally different things,” DPP Legislator Wu Yu-chin (吳玉琴) said.
The local election commission should have rejected the title under the Referendum Act (公民投票法), which bans content that might cause voters to misunderstand the plebiscite’s purpose, Wu said.
“This referendum would not be taking place if it were not for plans to set up casinos — that is the entire purpose of the referendum authorized under the Offshore Islands Development Act (離島建設條例). Those who proposed holding a referendum do not have a right to formulate it in a way that is misleading,” Wu added.
Penghu’s election commission on Wednesday said it had no authority to ask the groups who initiated the referendum to change the wording.
Wu said anti-gambling advocates would file a lawsuit to nullify the referendum if it passes, based on provisions of the Referendum Act, which allows for nullification in the event of illegal behavior by the local election commission or others that is sufficient to influence referendum results.
The news conference was followed immediately by a separate press conference, which saw DPP officials and legislators stand with young Penghu residents to urge young voters to return home to vote against legalizing gambling.
DPP Legislator Yang Yao (楊曜) of Penghu was notably absent, with Wu stating he had not been invited to avoid “putting him in a tough spot.”
Penghu County Commissioner Chen Kuang-fu (陳光復) of the DPP, who has said he would maintain a neutral stance throughout the referendum process, drew criticism yesterday from some DPP legislators.
“Chen Kuang-fu has been extremely irresponsible, because he was the one who prodded a hornet’s nest, only to demand that the party central clean up the mess,” DPP Legislator Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) said, attributing the holding of the referendum to the commissioner’s “inexperience” and passivity.
Voting is to take place tomorrow and can pass by a simple majority regardless of turnout under special provisions of the Offshore Islands Development Act.
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who is also the DPP chairperson, on Wednesday reiterated the party’s opposition to the opening of casinos in Penghu County.
DPP spokesman Wang Min-sheng (王閔生) quoted Tsai as telling a DPP Central Standing Committee meeting that the party’s position has not changed, and that Penghu should focus on developing tourism rather than rely on gambling for local development.
Additional Reporting by CNA
It took director Chong Keat Aun (張吉安) nearly a decade to complete Snow in Midsummer (五月雪), a deft chronicle of Malaysia’s May 13 incident told through one woman’s search for her brother and father. Although only his second feature, it led the field at yesterday’s Golden Horse Awards with nine nominations. Chong said it had been a struggle to get people to share their memories of the intercommunal violence following the 1969 national election, known among the country’s ethnic Chinese community as “513.” “My father, for example, would shut the conversation down if my mother or grandma even mentioned the topic,” Chong said
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said that a surge in respiratory illnesses in China has been caused by at least seven types of pathogens, and small children, elderly people and immunocompromised people should temporarily avoid unnecessary visits to China. The recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses in China is mainly in the north and among children, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said on Monday. Data released by the Chinese National Health Commission on Sunday showed that among children aged one to four, the main pathogens were influenza viruses and rhinoviruses, while among children aged five to 14, the main pathogens
A new poll of Taiwanese voters found the top opposition candidate for president jumping past the ruling party’s hopeful into the lead position ahead of January’s election — the latest twist in a drama-filled race. Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) had an approval rating of 31.9 percent versus 29.2 percent for the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate Vice President William Lai (賴清德), the poll released yesterday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation showed. The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), ranked third with 23.6 percent, according to the survey conducted
A New Taipei City hotpot restaurant could be fined after a rat dropped from the ceiling and landed on a customer’s plate last week, the New Taipei City Department of Health said yesterday after conducting an inspection. A woman recently posted on the “I am a Banciao resident” (我是板橋人) social media group saying that she had been eating with a friend at Chien Tu Shabu Shabu Hotpot Restaurant’s Shuangshi B branch in Banciao District (板橋). “While still eating, a big rat suddenly dropped down from the ceiling, landing on a plate next to a hotpot,” she said. “Later on, a member of