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Supporters and Opposers Clashed Again in the Last Kinmen Casino Referendum Information Session in Kinmen

Supporters and Opposers Clashed Again in the Last Kinmen Casino Referendum Information Session in Kinmen
Reporter: Chen Guan-Lin/Lieyu

A series of information sessions regarding the Kinmen casino referendum was held in all the townships, and the last information session in Kinmen took place at Lieyu Township yesterday morning. Representatives of the opposing group included Cai Jhih-Jie, Cin Jia-Yin, and Lin Yu-Jhen. According to the opposers, gaming is gambling, which is like to a bomb that may explode at any time; the prosperity of Kinmen is not the result of gaming but the result of local people’s effort in growing taros and sorghums. Representatives of the supporting group included Yang Ci-Syun, Jhang Jhih-Sian, and Jhou Zih-Jie. According to them, residents of Kinmen should stop deceiving themselves and others. Since every coin has two sides, one should focus on the advantages rather than the disadvantages. Kinmen should grasp this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Cai Jhih-Jie, a representative of the opposing group and a resident of Lieyu, stated that a casino is a casino, a facility for gambling activities. It will not make any difference just because “gaming,” a better term for gambling, is used. He also questioned the lack of a list of supporters on their flyers, saying that the supporters even lack the guts to assume basic responsibilities.

Cai then asked the supporters if it is true that opening a casino is the only way out for Kinmen, and if a hostess club will be the next step should a casino be opened.

Cai noted that a casino referendum was passed in Matsu four years ago, but no actions have been taken so far. Considering the fact that it costs more than NT$10 billion to set up a casino and the casino needs to pay taxes to the central government, Cai questioned whether Kinmen will truly benefit from gaming.

In addition, Cai brought up the shopping plaza BOT projects in Kinmen as an example. These projects originally claimed that the shopping plazas would increase opportunities for tourism businesses in Kinmen, but the shopping plazas are the only ones that have gained profits now. Cai said that there are few local people working in these shopping plazas as most of the employees are young people from the Taiwan area.

In the history of Kinmen, it was usually outsiders that determined the future of Kinmen, said Cai. Today Kinmen residents finally have the opportunity to determine the future of Kinmen. He urged local people to cast a vote, warning that their absence from the voting is a waiver of their rights and that tomorrow even Taiwu Mountain and the “Wu Wang Zai Ju” stele will be sold.

Lastly, Cai joked that he is going to “issue a no-suicide statement.”

Yang Ci-Syun, a representative of the supporting group and president of Jinsha Lakeside Hotel, pointed out that the opposers, in spite of their stance against gaming, could not come up with any method that may invigorate the economy of Kinmen, bring numerous benefits, and improve the well-being of its people. As for the many gambling addiction cases, Yang stated that people develop gambling problems because of bad influences and inadequate family education, and that these problems are their own business.

Yang stressed that gaming is “the second miracle for Kinmen.” A casino that features such elements as dining, accommodation, pleasure, entertainment, and shopping will serve as a turning point after it is set up. Otherwise, ways for Kinmen to turn over a new leaf while its resources are in decline remain a question.

Originally coming from Kaohsiung, Yang said that there were discussions on setting up a casino in Cijin, Kaohsiung eight years ago. However, our law did not permit setting up a casino in the island of Taiwan, so no further arrangements were made. Yang reminded everyone that Kinmen is given a chance due to the Offshore Islands Development Act. He then urged people to stop deceiving themselves and others into thinking that free food will drop from Heaven as long as they guard this land.

Yang added that gaming will bring numerous benefits to Kinmen and promote well-being for all so that the Kinmen County Government will have more advantages when seeking approval from the central government, ultimately creating a win-win situation instead of fighting with each other that leads to a lose-lose situation.

Cin Jia-Yin, a representative of the opposing group and a new immigrant from China, is a single mother of three in Lieyu. She began her argument by questioning why there were never females present to represent the supporters. She asked the supporters whether their wives and mothers approve gaming.

Cin said that she likes Little Kinmen a lot although she had a hard time getting used to this place when she first moved to Kinmen to join her then husband. Now she wants to come back to Kinmen after staying in China for about one week. She enjoys the simple lifestyle in Kinmen and loathes seeing Kinmen become an unsafe place due to gaming.

Cin took her ex-husband as an example to back up her point that gambling is like a bomb that may explode at any time. Her ex-husband owed a debt of NT$5 million for lost bets on baseball games, and Cin used their house as collateral for a loan to gradually cover the debt. However, her ex-husband continued betting and consequently lost more than NT$20 million. Eventually, her ex-husband ran away, leaving his wife, kids, and mother to deal with his creditors who came to their house to smash the fixtures in their shop.

To invigorate the economy of Kinmen, the government should complete Kinmen Bridge as soon as possible rather than spending effort on gaming, said Cin in all earnestness. She stressed that the prosperity of Kinmen is not the result of gaming but the result of every local resident’s efforts in growing taros and sorghums. In her opinion, Kinmen is beautiful, and she did not want anyone to ruin this beautiful place.

Jhang Jhih-Sian, a representative of the supporting group, married a Kinmen citizen and has lived in Kinmen for 25 years. He began by stressing that the supporters are not big companies but people who express their points of view. Jhang pointed out that no legal casinos for tourists across Taiwan at present do not necessarily mean no gambling, and that rejection of casinos for tourists does not necessarily mean that the world is at peace. Jhang admitted that gambling is bad, but he also insisted that developing the tourism industry and setting up a casino are two totally different things.

Regarding the concern that casinos will adversely affect public order in Kinmen, Jhang cited related data and said that the National Police Agency will closely monitor for any illegal activity and clamp down on gang-related offenses, drugs, and illegal prostitution, preventing crimes with a dominant number of police officers. Jhang further stressed that setting up a casino in Kinmen may help to increase the quota for police officers in this county. As a result, Kinmen citizens who work in police departments in Taiwan will have more opportunities to be transferred back to their hometown to serve the locals.

Furthermore, Jhang cited the research report published by the Association of Chinese Police Research, Taiwan. According to the report, gaming businesses will not jeopardize public safety but will help to elevate the value of local tourism businesses, provided that effective management is in place. People should not stigmatize gaming and disregard the economic effect associated with it.

Jhang stressed that operating a casino for tourists at a hotel will not bring calamities to Kinmen. Since every coin has two sides, one should focus on the advantages rather than the disadvantages.

Lin Yu-Jhen, a representative of the opposing group and former director of the Kinmen Branch Office of Taiwan Fund for Children and Families, questioned whether there is any difference between gaming and gambling and demanded an answer from the supporters. Lin said that during the 30 years of her career at Taiwan Fund for Children and Families helping disadvantaged people, she came across a lot of single-parent families that were poor because of the fathers’ addiction to gambling. She stressed that it was never rare for gambling addiction to break up families.

Lin said that gaming is promoted under the guise of creating job opportunities for young people. She hoped that older people in Kinmen may reconsider whether their children would feel happy about being forced back to Kinmen to stay by their side.

Moreover, Lin asked the locals if they truly wish to see the land value in Kinmen increase because of gaming and then sell their property so that their descendants can enjoy the profits. She wondered if anyone is cheeky enough to boast about the fact that they had the money to purchase expensive cars because their fathers sold the land inherited from their grandfathers.
If Kinmen is not a place of which our future generations will feel proud, then they will feel ashamed wherever they go, said Lin.

Lin urged local people to be sure to cast votes rejecting the establishment of a casino. If anyone fails to cast a vote, indirectly resulting in approval of gaming in the referendum with a one vote difference, then people who did not cast votes rejecting gaming should be jointly responsible for this failure.

Jhou Zih-Jie, a representative of the supporting group and county councilor, stated that he is against gambling but not gaming. He stressed that the casino is to attract tourists, not to turn Kinmen into an island full of gamblers. According to Jhou, the government will put in efforts, investors will surrender part of their profits, and Kinmen residents will gain profits. This is how a casino will bring benefits to Kinmen in the future if approved. Jhou said that Kinmen does not need to contribute even a penny, but the casino revenue will be allocated to local people at a certain percentage. He stressed that even in the case of land price rises, Kinmen residents will still be the beneficiaries.

Jhou then threw a question at the opposers: Many charities have also benefited from the public welfare lottery fund. Did these charities reject the fund because of the nature of the public welfare lottery?

Jhou stated that the pride of Kinmen locals should lie in the number of Kinmen citizens willing to return to Kinmen to work and settle. No one wants to leave their hometown and family if they have choices. A lot of people wish to return to their hometown to take care of the elder members of their family; however, they can’t because there are no job opportunities in Kinmen.

According to Jhou, there would not have been thousands of casinos all over the world if gaming had been that bad. Moreover, the plan is not to establish a casino in Kinmen, but to set up gaming facilities in an international resort. With regard to the many problem gambling cases, Jhou pointed out that these cases existed before the gaming plan and had nothing to do with gaming in Kinmen. To gamble or not is one’s own choice.

Jhou urged Kinmen residents to seize current opportunities and not to surrender the power of making decisions to outsiders again. Kinmen residents should decide the future of Kinmen by themselves, determining whether Kinmen should embrace change, invest effort in development, or remain stagnant. The locals should grasp the opportunity of a lifetime before it slips away.

Three more information sessions will be organized in the main island of Taiwan (namely Kaohsiung City, Taichung City, and New Taipei City) on the following three days. During the sessions, the Economic Affairs Department, Tourism Department, and Police Bureau of Kinmen County Government will provide a detailed explanation of the referendum opinion statements to Kinmen citizens. These sessions are listed below: September 25th, 16:00 – 17:00, at Meeting Room 302, Women, Children, and Youth Center, Social Affairs Bureau of Kaohsiung City Government (No.120, Sec. 2, Guangfu Rd., Fongshan Dist., Kaohsiung City); September 26th, 14:00 – 15:00, at 301 Conference Room of World Trade Center Taichung (No.60, Tianbao St., Situn Dist., Taichung City); September 27th, 16:00 – 17:00, at the Auditorium of New Taipei City Creative Park No. 4 (B1, No.85, Jhong’an St., Jhonghe Dist., New Taipei City; a two-minute walk from MRT Yongan Station). Kinmen citizens living in the island of Taiwan are welcome to attend these sessions.

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  • Date:2017-12-19