Dear Gov. Eloy S. Inos: House Bill 18-179 that was just passed by the Legislature requires your immediate attention and veto. As you know, this bill was railroaded without any comments from the general public. I was the only one who stood up, raising some concerns during both of the sessions when this bill was passed.
If one looks at the key contents/provisions of this bill, he or she will find that this bill has been rigged to the maximum, tailor-made for an investor from HK/Macau. In fact, senators and a representative (all your cronies in the Legislature) traveled at one time or another to HK/Macau/Singapore for wining and dining during the past five months.
My main concerns about this bill are as follows:
When is the Lottery Commission in the business of issuing the exclusive casino license when the Casino Commission is the appropriate place for casino licenses to be issued? The Lottery Commission’s decision will be a one-man decision similar to the corrupted $190 million power plant deal. In the end, whatever the Lottery Commission decides, you will have the final decision or direct influence.
Why can’t this exclusive casino license be bidded out to the best and most responsible bidder and given the proper deadlines for serious investors to respond? What is so difficult about doing what is in the best interest of our people? Why rush the bill and railroad it down the throats of our people and is this the best way to do it?
Are you absolutely certain that this bill provides the best deal for our people now and the next 40 years? What about the 100 percent tax rebate on gross gaming revenues?
Our government needs to be more transparent and accountable, and we must learn our lessons from history, or at least from recent history. We need to have a process that promotes integrity and trust. We need to get more serious and more responsible investors to come to our islands to invest.
But how can it be possible to attract the best of investors to our islands if our very own leaders do not believe in doing the right thing when it comes to a selection process that clearly lacks integrity and transparency and accountability and fairness? In government, this is what I know—maintaining and sustaining public trust is most important!
Our people have been enduring all kinds of pains and sufferings during the past 10 years. Their standard of living have gone down substantially, our healthcare services remain poor, and their pension savings have been reduced exponentially, while paying more than double in utilities.
While “quick-fix” schemes may help with some of our most urgent problems, they may prove fatal over the longer term, most especially if selfish interests are in play.
Your vetoing of this bill and your bringing to a closure the extradition request by the Legislature at the earliest opportunity will be the true test of your leadership and electability this November, only a few months away!
Juan S. Demapan
San Vicente, Saipan