The Chinese owned Union Development Group (UDG) is currently in the process of constructing a mega casino in Cambodia. The casino is being built in the Botum Sakor National Park upon 45,000-hectare-land which was sold at a concession to UDG. The land is located near the Gulf of Thailand and the deal was made back in April 2008.
The land was a natural habitat to a number of wild animals including tigers, elephants, bears and gibbons. Cambodian farmers also used a large portion of this land to cultivate crops and live off the land. However, the Cambodian government decided to sell the land to UDG as the Cambodian government is looking to promote the gambling industry and encourage foreign investment and tourism in Cambodia.
According to reports, the UDG has made a proposal to construct a mega casino and resort complex that is estimated to cost around $3.8 billion and will have a special casino called the “Angkor Wat on Sea”. The mega complex will also have a port for cruise ships, an international airport, golf courses, apartment buildings and hotels to provide entertainment and comfort to foreign tourists. Some reports put the size of the resort at “…half the size of Singapore…” Cambodian villagers were promised compensation of $8,000 per hectare and were evicted from their homes so that construction on the mega could start.
The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) recently reported that the promises made to Cambodian villagers were not honored and instead of being paid $8,000 per hectare, they were only given $300 a hectare. Over 1,100 families were evicted and are now crying out for justice and requesting the Cambodian government to take appropriate action.
In a statement, Ouch Leng, the head of Adhoc’s land program said “Villagers who were forced to move just got fake promises from the authority and [the company] took over their land without fair compensation. They are living in horrific conditions. Their right to their homes was withdrawn.”
Villagers who did not accept the compensation and refused to sell their land received a shock recently when UDG dispatched bulldozers to destroy their crops and set fire to their homes. UDG also used armed guards who threatened the lives of the farmers who were forced to stand and watch their homes torched. UDG is yet to respond to the accusations found in many Asian media outlets.