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President vows to do more for Penghu after casino plan rejected

2016/10/15 23:03:47

Taipei, Oct. 15 (CNA) The government resolved to do more for Penghu after residents of the outlying island voted against the opening of casinos on the island in a referendum Saturday.

According to the official results announced by the Penghu Election Commission, 6,210 residents voted for the proposed casinos, while 26,598 voted against. The turnout was 39.56 percent.

Presidential Office spokesperson Alex Huang (黃重諺) said Penghu residents have expressed their view on public policy through the ballot box, which he said was democracy in action and a form of public participation worth encouraging.

He quoted President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as saying “the government will display resolve and do more (for Penghu).”

Tsai openly came out against the casino plan just three days before the vote.

Executive Yuan spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said that the Cabinet respects the result of the referendum.

"In future, the Cabinet will work closely with Penghu County government to do more for Penghu residents," Hsu said.

Penghu County Magistrate Chen Kuang-fu (陳光復) also said he respected the result of the referendum and would continue to promote development based on the county government's original plan.

Chen said that the fact casino advocates proposed another referendum after the first one failed seven years ago showed that all the development in the intervening period had failed to disuade them from continuing to advocate for the casino proposal.

He said that Penghu has continued to make progress, citing the nearly 2,000 families that have returned to the island, the increase of more than 500 companies and over 1 million tourist visits annually.

Penghu will also hold the World Congress of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World in 2018, he added.

However, the county commissioner also urged the central government to take heed of the inadequacy of the law -- the Referendum Act and the Offshore Islands Development Act -- which he said have divided local residents.

The alliance that advocated allowing casinos to help boost local development expressed disappointment.

Alliance convenor Chen Meng (陳猛) said that President Tsai's public remarks opposing casinos seriously undercut support.

"The sustainable development of Penghu is now dependent on soliciting resources from the central government," Chen said.

The alliance suffered an unexpected drubbing, as the pro casino side polled 39 votes less than the 6,249 endorsements it received.

All but one of the 114 polling stations came out against the casino proposal.

In the first referendum on Sept. 26, 2009, 17,369 ballots were cast against the proposal and 13,397 in favor.

In addition, the public statement by President Tsai, the Cabinet and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party that "gambling is not the only way for Penghu to develop" and the fact that the bill on casino management on outlying islands is still stuck in the Legislature all contributed to the failure of the referendum.

(By Lu Hsin-hui, Tang pei-chun, Chen Chi-ching and Lilian Wu)
Enditem/AW