The government has created a working group to study the development of Koh Kaong
Karng, an island about an hour's boat ride from Sihanoukville. The move followed
an expression of interest from a French development company, said Kong Vibol, secretary
of state in the Ministry of Economy and Finance.
Vibol, who was appointed deputy chairman of the working group, said the government
had not yet seen a full proposal for the resort development. It had also not signed
a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the developer, which is trading in Cambodia
as the Kaong Karng Island Development Group Company.
"We must be very careful to select the areas which are appropriate for development
and those that we must preserve," he said of the upcoming study.
He said the working group would study the economic and environmental impacts of what
is likely to be a small bungalow-style resort. The island is a popular spot for day-trippers
from Sihanoukville looking to snorkel and scuba dive.
The study follows the establishment of a similar working group to examine a much
larger development on Koh Rung and Koh Rung Sonleum by a Las Vegas consortium.
The US-based Island Development Group (IDG) completed a feasibility study in May
and plans to develop an airport, resorts, electricity generation and water treatment
plants on the two islands in the Gulf of Thailand.
In February IDG signed an MoU with local firm Ratanak Stone Cambodia Development
Company. IDG's website identified Ratanak's owner as the wife of General Pol Saroeun,
Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. IDG signed a 70-year
lease agreement with the government in July, and paid a $500,000 deposit.