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Casino referendum in Matsu hinges on undecided voters: activist

2012/07/05 20:38:00

Taipei, July 5 (CNA) The percentage of Matsu residents for and against a proposal to build a casino resort there is evenly split, which means the upcoming referendum on the issue hinges on the 40 percent who are still undecided, an activist estimated Thursday.

Among the 7,762 eligible voters on the outlying island county, 30 percent support the casino proposal, 30 percent are opposed to it and 40 percent are undecided, said Ho Tsung-hsun, executive director of the Alliance Against the Legalization of Gambling.

The alliance, which has been in Matsu since June 29 as a self-appointed observer, has been pushing the government to investigate claims of vote-buying ahead of the July 7 referendum.

As for the concerns about the development of Matsu's transportation, he said, this is an issue that should be solved by the government, rather than the private sector.

He was responding to a report in the Taipei-based China Times that some Matsu residents think the tussling between his group and the potential resort developers has shifted the focus away from the goal of improving transportation in the county through the project.

Control Yuan President Wang Chien-shien expressed a similar view in an interview in Taipei on Thursday.

Transportation infrastructure is the responsibility of the government, he said, urging Matsu residents to reject the casino project.

Wang said Matsu residents should have the courage and vision to vote against the project, as the people of Penghu did in 2009 when a similar proposal was raised there.

"A simple and beautiful place like Matsu will become a place of sin" if the project is approved, Wang said.

Although gambling remains illegal in Taiwan, a 2009 amendment to the Offshore Islands Development Act allows casino gambling on the outlying islands, on condition that the residents approve it by means of referendum.

In the first such a referendum, 17,359 voters on Penghu rejected a casino resort proposal, while 13,397 supported it.

(By Zoe Wei, Sophia Yeh and Kay Liu)
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