A Preah Sihanouk provincial official said on Thursday that the owner of Jinding Hotel and Casino on Koh Rong Sanloem is flouting the authorities’ order to close the business by March 22.
Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearum told The Post that the provincial administration issued a letter on March 11 notifying the owner, a Chinese national named Zhou Jianhua, to shut down the business.
He said the provincial hall then sent a letter on April 1 to the provincial police headquarters to go to the casino and ensure operations had ceased, but the casino had continued to operate illegally and in secret.
“It is hard to figure out. We have to assume that he didn’t cooperate with the order and that he’s defying the authorities’ instructions,” Phearum said.
His statement came after Mother Nature posted a video on Facebook on Wednesday suggesting that the venue had remained open for illegal gambling – both for Chinese and Cambodian nationals.
The March 11 order to close the casino came after authorities claimed it had flushed raw sewage into the sea, made excessive noise, constructed a building on the beach without permission and possessed an expired business licence.
Phrearum did not specify when police would return to make sure the casino had closed, instead referring questions to the provincial police headquarters.
Preah Sihanouk provincial police chief Chuon Narin said that after receiving the letter from the provincial administration, the police delivered it to Jinding’s owner.
But he said that if the casino was continuing to operate, it was not for the police to decide the next course of action, it was up to the provincial committee.
“It’s the decision of the provincial committee. My police have already delivered the letter,” he said.
Koh Rong commune chief Chhoeun Chantha said the casino was continuing to operate secretly but when he ordered his commune officers to observe what was going on, they did not see anything.
“When the authorities went there, the casino wasn’t operating. But when the authorities came back, it seemed to have started again – but the information is not yet clear,” Chantha said.
Cambodian National Research Organisation director Sok Sokhom said that if the casino owner had failed to comply with the authorities’ instructions, they shouldn’t waste time thinking about what to do, they should enforce the law.
“The casino was constructed on part of the beach and was operating without a licence. The law should be enforced immediately and the authorities must not allow them to secretly operate like this,” Sokhom said.
But provincial hall spokesman Phearum said the authorities would grant further time for the owner to remove the casino from the beach, or the authorities would take action to dismantle it themselves.