The National Election Committee (NEC) on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction with the close proximity of its new headquarters to NagaWorld hotel and casino.
NEC president Sik Bun Hok told reporters during a meeting on the voter list and registration that the election body will discuss with NagaWorld on a solution to the matter. Without elaborating, he said the move to the new location was not his decision.
“The casino is in an inconvenient location that makes us feel uneasy. It’s a betting place. It causes pressure. [The NEC] should be in an isolated location. Anyway, we’ll work it out down the road. Now at least we can move from a place that we borrowed [from the Interior Ministry],” he said.
The NEC is still working on the new building’s entrance and exit, as it currently shares the entrance with NagaWorld, which makes access difficult. Bun Hok said the entrance was originally under NEC’s ownership but was rented to NagaWorld.
“It [NagaWorld] requested a shared entrance, and that’s why we use the same one. When we first moved here, there were two buses blocking the entrance. It’s frustrating. We’ll discuss with the NagaWorld boss when he returns from Russia,” he said.
The new 14-story headquarters is built on a plot of land that belongs to the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts at a cost of $12 million. The budget is part of a $13 million deal in which NagaWorld rents the state land on a 99-year lease. The remaining $1 million will be transferred to the government’s coffers.
Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey echoed Bun Hok’s concerns.
“From a social perspective, it’s not good to locate the NEC, which by law is an independent institution, in close proximity of a gambling site. When people see NEC officials there, they can confuse them with gamblers. NEC should not be adjacent to a casino,” he said.
Reached by phone on Tuesday, a NagaWorld executive declined to comment.