Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rabbit Island set for five-star development early next year

Rabbit Island set for five-star development early next year

Rabbit Island set for five-star development early next year

3-story-1.jpg
3-story-1.jpg

Kep governor says the tiny island will become Cambodia's next big tourism destination, but local residents insist they will not leave unless the government offers fair compensation

Dan Kreis

Rabbit Island’s beach may not be undeveloped for much longer as permission has been granted for a five-star resort to be built.

AFIVE-STAR resort and golf course is slated for  the idyllic 600-hectare Koh Tunsay, or Rabbit Island, off the coast of Kampot province's sleepy seaside town of Kep. Construction is slated to begin early next year, officials say.

Kep Municipality Governor Has Sareth told the Post on Tuesday the Council for the Development of Cambodia has granted permission to the Pol Cham Group.

"I think this project is good, as it will provide jobs and income to local people, and it will make Kep one of the most attractive tourist destinations," he said.

Pol Cham Group representatives were unavailable for comment on Tuesday, but Has Sareth said construction will begin early next year.

Currently, visitors to Koh Tunsay can reach the island only by a 40-minute boat ride with local fishermen. It is home to just 14 families who run small restaurants and bungalow guesthouses that lack running water, steady electricity supplies and proper sewage systems.

The principal trade of Rabbit Island residents is fishing and farming, as it was when the first families took up residence in 1954. The island, like all islands in Cambodia, technically belongs to the state, and none of the islanders have papers to show ownership of their land.

Compensation claims

One resident, 29-year-old Kensi Mach, told the Post that nine families were moved from the island in 2006 after only a brief residence. They were given less than US$900 in compensation.

...IT WILL MAKE KEP ONE OF THE MOST ATTRACTIVE TOURIST DESTINATIONS.

Another resident, Chea Om wants much higher compensation than the families that have already been relocated.

"I do not object to the development project, but if they offer only a small compensation, I don't know how I will survive," she said.
The 65-year-old has lived on the island for more than 20 years and does not want to leave. "I live here in happiness," she said. "And I run a good business."

All families that remain say they will demand significant sums to leave their homes.

A man from one of the island's oldest families, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said his family would demand $20,000 in compensation.

Has Sareth acknowledged that the remaining families have lived for years on the island and that the municipality and the Pol Cham Group would need to resettle them with a fair compensation agreement.

"We are looking at the price of the land," he said, adding that "the villagers will agree, as we are developing [the island] for their benefit."

MOST VIEWED

  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group