1/2/2001 (By Lin Mei-chun, Taipei Times) Politicians, scholars and religious leaders lambasted a suggestion by a Cabinet member to allow the establishment of casinos on Taiwan’s offshore islands.
They have called the proposed policy contradictory to the government’s aim of cracking down on crime, citing inextricable links between gambling and criminal activity.
“Gambling is a key source of crime. It brings about depravity and exhausts one’s wealth. A responsible government should not be so shortsighted … I think [the government] is being degenerate when it seeks to make use of this proposal as a bait to lure Chinese tourists,” Buddhist Master Shih Chao-hui (ÄÀ¬L¼z) said at a press conference held at the legislature yesterday.
Master Chao-hui was referring specifically to a proposal made on Dec. 27 by Lin Chia-cheng (ªL¹Å¸Û), chairman of the Cabinet’s Research, Development and Evaluation Commission (¬ã¦Ò·|). Lin suggested building casinos on Kinmen and Matsu in order to stimulate local business and restore residents’ confidence in the “small three links” scheme, which is suffering numerous setbacks because of China’s unwillingness to support the initiative.
Other attending religious leaders, including Lu Chunyi (¿c«T¸q), a minister of the Presbyterian East Gate Church and Brother Laurenz Schelbert (Á§¥°¹D), a Catholic monk at KPS Spiritual Development Studio, agreed with Master Chao-hui.
They warned that legalized gambling would set a bad example for teenagers and would erode social values.
Lin Duan (ªLºÝ), an associate professor of sociology at National Taiwan University, said he was surprised to learn about the proposal, and expressed doubt as to whether casinos would indeed help boost the local economies of Kinmen and Matsu.
“The [gambling] business only requires professionals in that field, so it is not possible for the scheme to create more job opportunities for local residents — who are mainly farmers and fishermen,” Lin said.