The vote to legalize casinos on Penghu, one of Taiwan’s outlying islands, was held on October 15 and close to 40 percent of the locals turned out to vote. The Penghu Election Commission released the results of the vote and confirmed that 39.56 percent of the people voted and 26,598 of them voted against the referendum and just 6,210 people voted in favor of the referendum. This was the second time that Penghu residents had voted on a referendum to legalize the casino industry and on both occasions the residents have objected to the referendum.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) party were also not in favor of legalizing the casino industry in Penghu and the DPP had asked Penghu residents in September to say no to the referendum. President Tsai Ing-wen also went on record to state that Penghu did not need the casino industry to boost its economy and wanted the local administrators to focus on improving its tourism initiatives.
The alliance that was pushing for the Penghu referendum to go through was disappointed with the result but accepted the fact that at this point of time Penghu residents were not open to the casino industry. Chen Meng, the Alliance convenor stated that the lack of support from the DPP and the President’s remarks had a negative impact on the vote. The President’s office was pleased with the result and promised to do more for Penghu Island and help with its growth. In a statement, Hsu Kuo-yung , the Executive Yuan representative said “In future, the Cabinet will work closely with Penghu County government to do more for Penghu residents.”
The first referendum vote which took place in September 2009 was a lot closer with 17,369 cast against legalizing the casino industry while 13,397 votes were cast in favor of the referendum. While proponents of the referendum have worked hard to over the last 7 years to get voters to change their mind, the second vote shows that Penghu residents are even more opposed now to the possibility of hosting casinos on the Island.
Chen Kuang-fu, the Penghu County Magistrate stated that Penghu would follow the government’s original plan and promote development on the Island. Penghu receives more than 1 million tourists every year and Chen believes that these numbers will continue to grow as Penghu looks to promote itself as a top tourist destination. Penghu will host the World Congress of the Most Beautiful Bays in the World during 2018.