Cambodian tycoon Kith Meng’s Royal Group issued a statement yesterday claiming to have the requisite approval from the former provincial governor of Preah Sihanouk province to build a port along Otres Beach to facilitate their development activities on Koh Rong island.
The statement, accompanied by two letters of approval, states that construction of the port – which was ordered stopped on Thursday by a government committee – was legal and in no way impacted any “national interests or people.”
One of the letters, dated July 24, 2014, and signed by former provincial governor Chhuth Sokhom, gave the group the go-ahead to construct the port but also instructed the Royal Group to conduct a study on its environmental impact with relevant ministries.
While the letter does not specify the location of the proposed port, Khin Remy, an assistant to Kith Meng, yesterday said they had permission to build in the current location and that construction has been ongoing for a “long time”.
“Construction was approved along Otres Beach and has been proceeding since the former governor’s tenure,” he said.
However, Remy did not comment on what steps the group will take in response to the government’s directive, only adding that it seemed to be a misunderstanding with the new governor and the national committee.
Sihanoukville city governor Y Sokleng said the former governor had only given in-principle approval for conducting the study and not for construction of the port.
“I know that the former governor only gave approval for conducting the study, but not for construction of the port” he said. He added that Otres Beach was being used as a model beach to promote and develop Cambodia’s coastal areas and that no construction would be allowed on it.
Preah Sihanouk governor Yun Min yesterday declined to comment on the approval purportedly given by his predecessor.