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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Plan for Jurassic park is hatched

Visitors take pictures next to a dinosaur replica outside the Jurassic Park attraction at Universal Studios theme park in Singapore in 2010. Roslan rahmana/Afp
Visitors take pictures next to a dinosaur replica outside the Jurassic Park attraction at Universal Studios theme park in Singapore in 2010. Roslan rahmana/Afp

Plan for Jurassic park is hatched

A Malaysian investment firm and its Cambodian-registered partner are looking to build a “Jurassic Theme Park” as part of a proposed $51 million entertainment complex that would include a casino, hotel and 500 serviced apartments set to rise in Prey Veng province near the Vietnamese border, according to a filing on the Malaysian stock exchange yesterday.

MQ Technology Bhd, a Malaysian investment holding company, said in the filing that it intends to form a joint venture with the newly established Cambodian Resort and Entertainment Ltd (CRE) to build the proposed development, with construction to be completed within the next six years.

The official filing on the Malaysian bourse provides new details on a speculated proposal for a casino and theme park development that the Post first reported on Monday.

According to a signed memorandum of agreement (MoA), Star Acres Sdn Bhd, a wholly owned subsidiary of MQ Technology, would hold 70 percent of the joint venture with CRE holding the remainder. The agreement states that Star Acres would shell out an initial $1.5 million to build the dinosaur-themed amusement park, while both partners would provide management services for the project’s 5.1 hectares of land.

Robbie Hari Krishnan Tatparandam, executive director of MQ Technology, who is spearheading the proposed development, said the project was still in its early stages. “Right now, the agreement is just to conduct a feasibility study to see if the project has potential,” he said, adding that his role in the company – which specialises in high-precision mould-making and magnetic coils for hard-disk drives – was to restructure the business to make it more profitable.

“We are trying to look for other investment potential outside of what we traditionally do, and we are already trying to build a theme park in the southern Malaysian state of Malacca,” he said.

MQ Technology has already raised nearly half of the $13.5 million needed to complete the Malaysian project, which is being developed on 3.7 hectares of reclaimed land, through the issuance of additional shares earlier this year, he said.

Tatparandam said the company was looking at all available options to raise capital for the Cambodian project. Few details are known on CRE, which was registered at Cambodia’s Ministry of Commerce in May by Chan Loong Wai, a resident of Malaysia.

According to Tatparandam, CRE is a Cambodian-based holding company established by Star Acres and MQ Technology in anticipation of the project. He said the company was already actively investing in scaling up an existing casino in preparation for its grand investment scheme.

“CRE has already invested $3 million into an existing casino in Prey Veng to refurbish the casino floor and improve the karaoke area,” he said.

While Tataparandam could not recall off-hand the name of the existing casino, Ros Phirun, deputy director of the finance industry department at the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), said there were only two casinos in the area that had been granted licences: Monaco Casino and Arunbopea Casino.

Michael Ho, whose name is listed as a contact on commercial registry documents for both CRE and Arunbopea Casino, said in an email yesterday that he was a friend of the chairmen of the two companies, though he denied any involvement in the project.

According to Pich Song, governor of Preah Sdech district in Prey Veng province, a group of Malaysian investors purchased the Arunbopea Casino two months ago from Hak Leng, a Cambodian business tycoon. “The deal is already done,” he said. “Right now, the casino is not operational as the Malaysians are remodelling it.”

He added that documents the MEF provided him show the casino’s licence is due to expire at the end of the year. “The company will have to apply for a new licence before it resumes operations,” Song said. While the MEF’s Phirun said that he was unaware of the details of the $51 million project, he suggested its success would depend on its ability to draw Vietnamese to its casino and Cambodians to its theme park.

“I believe they are investing more to create an integrated resort,” he said. “From my understanding, currently there are very few visitors from Vietnam coming to Prey Veng and the casinos there are empty. So a better destination would be welcomed.”

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