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Fie on casinos

TAIPEI (UCAN): Father Chou Jung, from the parish of the Sacred Heart in Kinmen, a group of islands off the coast of China near the city of Xiamen under the administration of the People’s Republic of China, has linked the anti-corruption campaign being run by the president, Xi Jinping, to a resounding no vote against casinos being built on the island.
 
Residents on the islands overwhelmingly voted against casinos on their territory on October 28 with reports saying 24,368 voted against with only 2,705 in favour.
 
Father Chou said he was worried about the outcome of the referendum, but believes the turning point came with government opposition to the casinos and the subsequent threat to end the Mini Three Links arrangement, which opens postal, transportation and trade links between Fujian and the Kinmen across the two kilometres of water that separates them.
 
“The support for opening the casinos in Kinmen was for stimulating the economy, but the big boost for the Kinmen economy has been the Mini Three Links,” Father Chou explained. “When China was against the proposal and said it would to shut down the links, how could the islanders support it?”
 
Ho Tsung-hsu, the executive director of the Taiwan Anti-Legalisation of Gambling Coalition, also gave weight to the rationale that the attitude of the Chinese government helped to block the bid. Ho said that China wants to prevent mainland officials laundering money at the card table or the roulette wheel.
 
Father Chou said if casinos are ever allowed on Kinmen they would bring with them corrupting elements. “Gambling is an act of greed,” he said. “People go bankrupt and ruin their lives through it. Moreover, prostitution, drugs and other evils would follow.”
 
Father Chou led an anti-casino protest march of 300 people from the Church and wider community taking part one week prior to the referendum.
 
The Kinmens were occupied by Japan during World War II and Taiwan has also laid claim to the territory. It was used as a cheaper access point to the mainland than the Hong Kong route by people from Taiwan until direct flights were established.
 
It is a popular tourist destination.

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