ldquo;After we succeeded in defeating Penghu’s referendum last year, we thought we would have two or three years of breathing space,” Alliance Against the Legalization of Gambling executive director Ho Tsung-hsun said.
Campaigners were surprised when they heard about the new signature drive, Ho said.
“We hope to get rid of the referendum provisions in the Offshore Islands Development Act to prevent Kinmen experiencing Penghu and Matsu’s nightmare,” he said.
The referendum on casinos on Penghu was defeated last year after the Executive Yuan and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) expressed their opposition.
A similar referendum in Matsu passed in 2012, but progress has stalled due to the failure of the Legislative Yuan to pass enabling legislation.
The act allows for the legalization of gambling on outlying islands if approved by a local referendum; it also allows for repeat referendums.
Continued DPP opposition to legalizing casinos is no excuse to leave the provisions in place, Ho said, adding that it appears the signature drive will succeed in initiating a referendum in Kinmen.
“The situation in Kinmen is extremely dangerous,” Ho said.
Pro-gambling “groups want to win local approval in the hope that if the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] returns to power, casinos would be legalized,” he said.
“We will be under a dark cloud as long as referendum provisions remain in place,” Penghu’s Citizens of the Ocean Foundation chairman Hu Chao-an said.