Officials in Cambodia’s Sihanoukville province have ordered a Chinese casino and hotel accused of ruining the beauty of a local beach by pouring raw sewage into the sea to close following complaints by area residents and inspections by authorities.
The Jin Ding Hotel and Casino, which registered to do business on Koh Rong Samloem Island in April 2018 and opened only recently, had become a major cause of concern for island residents, who feared damage to the environment and a drop in tourist business.
In a letter seen on Wednesday by RFA’s Khmer Service, provincial authorities said Jin Ding must now shut down, citing multiple violations by the casino of the law, the playing of loud music on the beach, and the promotion of illegal online betting games.
On one occasion, the casino’s security chief had also fired gunshots into the air, the letter ordering the casino’s closing said.
Speaking to RFA on March 13, Leang Sopheary—a youth volunteer who visited the island in February and posted photos of the polluted water on social media—called on authorities to examine larger areas of beachfront now also under threat.
“I want them to come here and prevent the draining of polluted water into the sea before it’s too late, so that the sea remains clean,” she said.
Other local businesses and entertainment centers should meanwhile be inspected for violations, environmental activist Thorn Ratha said, also speaking to RFA on Wednesday. And the owner of the Jin Ding Casino should now be brought to court to face charges, he said.
“Cambodia is a country with laws and a criminal code, so the authorities must hand down serious punishment for the owner of this club,” Thorn Ratha said, adding, “This would serve as a warning to other business owners who break Cambodian law.”
“There should also be an investigation into any government official who might have been involved in these [violations] and allowed them to happen for years,” he said.
Sihanoukville provincial governor Yun Min and provincial government spokesman Or Saroeun could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Zhou Jianhua, owner of the Jin Ding Casino, was also unavailable for comment.
Reported by Vanrith Chea for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Richard Finney.