A Chinese-backed casino in Cambodia’s southwestern city of Sihanoukville is still in business despite calls from the city to cease operations.
The Jin Ding Hotel and Casino was ordered to close down in March because it was operating without a license and polluting an adjacent beach. The casino reportedly released untreated sewage water directly into the sea and there was one incident in which a casino guard fired shots in the air.
Kheang Phyrum, a spokesman for Sihanoukville city hall, said in an interview with RFA’s Khmer Service that the city has already informed the owner of the shutdown through official notices, but the owner has refused to act.
The spokesman said that the city will send a third notice, and if the company continues to run the casino, the owners could have a court case on their hands. He also said that the city would argue for the demolition of the casino if the case goes to trial.
“We will forcefully demolish the casino and file a complaint to the court,” said Kheang Phyrum.
“The casino has operated without a license and there are no permits from local authorities. Those two reasons are enough.”
The spokesman said that authorities cannot take immediate action against the Jin Ding casino because it is located on an island, making it difficult for authorities to move the heavy equipment necessary to destroy the building.
Environmentalist Meng Heng said authorities should hold the Jin Ding responsible for the damage it has caused. He said that he wants to see the immediate closure of the casino first, with punitive action from authorities to come later.
Meng Heng said he suspected that authorities aren’t taking action against the casino because of corruption.
“The casino is operating illegally,” said Meng Heng.
“Why aren’t authorities taking any action?”
RFA attempted to contact the Jin Ding casino’s owner Zhou Jianhua, but was unable to reach him.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Eugene Whong.