Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday lauded the Chinese developer behind Koh Kong province’s $3.8 billion tourism project, despite it causing a decade-long dispute with the villagers there.
“The Union Development Group [UDG] transformed the quiet area in Koh Kong province into an attractive tourist site,” Hun Sen said, as quoted by the Ministry of Tourism on its Facebook page on Saturday.
The remark was made during an inspection to UDG’s project site in Botum Sakor district, as part of the prime minister’s agenda in the province while attending the 7th Sea Festival.
A villager among hundreds of families embroiled in the decade-old row with the company did not share the same sentiment.
Saing Puy, from Kiri Sakor district’s Koh Sdech commune, called on the company to recompense the villagers for the loss of their agricultural land.
Some villagers, she added, were persuaded and threatened by the local authorities to accept insufficient compensation. Some did not even receive any, Puy claimed.
“The development only benefits the company, not the people,” she said, pleading for the prime minister’s help."
Adhoc coordinator in Koh Kong, Mean Prom Mony, said nearly 80 families have not received the appropriate solution.
“A real development should not cause mistreatment of the people. It should create jobs,” he said.
UDG received a 99-year economic land concession of 36,000ha on May 9, 2008, to develop a tourism project called Dara Sakor.
In September, it unveiled plans for yet another project called “Tourism Vacation Town”.
The company plans to build an international airport, a power plant, five-star hotel, resort, port, more than 20 golf courses, modern condominiums and commercial office buildings in upcoming phases, the Tourism Ministry detailed on its Facebook post.
The development aligns with the vision of China’s President Xi Jinping to expand the Belt and Road Initiative to optimise international cooperation.