Invalid Referendum Puts A Pause On Matsu Casino
Premier Jiang Yi-huah has been accused by anti-casino activists of using the referendum policy as a means to allow for the establishment of a casino and other gambling facilities in Matsu. As a result, these activists are now demanding that the Executive Yuan withdraw the draft bill for the development of a casino in the Matsu region.On Monday, Jiang stated that a national referendum should not determine the outcome of controversial issues which are protected in the Referendum Act. Jiang went as far as stating that issues such as a fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District or the abolishment of the death penalty should be determined by the results of a referendum if it fell within the boundaries of the Referendum Act.
In response, Pan Han-shen, who is a former Green Party spokesperson, stated that the government uses a referendum in order to see a policy pass yet when they want a referendum to fail, there is simply “a high turnout threshold”.
In 2009 a referendum was held in Penghu City and then again in Matsu County in 2012 in order to determine if the citizens of these regions agreed to the development of casino resorts in their hometowns.
In both these cases, a simple majority vote was the deciding factor which is in line with the Off-shore Islands Development Act and not the Referendum Act.
The results of the Matsu County referendum had 3,164 ballots cast with 1,341 against the casino and 1,795 in favor. As a result, in May last year, the Executive Yuan proposed a draft to legally permit the development of a casino in the area. To date, this draft statute is still pending deliberation in the legislature.
Based on these results, Pan stated that in the same way that a majority vote on a nuclear issue is unconvincing, so too should the 2012 referendum in Matsu be viewed as invalid since there was only a turnout of 40.76% of the citizens. Pan also strongly believes that the casino draft act should be revoked.