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Koh Kong Puzzle

Thursday, November 12, 2009

By The Nation
Published on November 13, 2009

Known as Cambodia's "Wild West" with its corrupt immigration officials, visa scams, crooked cops, prostitutes, illegal logging and gambling, Koh Kong could gain new notoriety if Thaksin Shinawatra's ambitious development plans go ahead.

His arrival to a hero's welcome in Phnom Penh, where he yesterday praised "generous laws" regarding foreign ownership during an address to Cambodian businessmen and economists, was seen by many as a big step toward making all-out inroads into the country. With Thaksin reportedly already granted a large-scale investment licence in the area lasting 99 years, Koh Kong could soon become a big thorn in Thailand's side

Would Koh Kong become a virtual government in exile or will it become "Thaksin's Singapore"? Thai intelligence is paying serious attention to all such rumours. Though a source close to Thaksin denies that the fugitive has any plans concerning Koh Kong, the warm hospitality displayed by his Cambodian hosts and their hostility toward the Thai government suggests that the wild frontier would always be kept open for him.

Apart from having Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen as his best friend, Thaksin has another good connection in Koh Kong - Pat Supapa, who is chairman of the Koh Kong International Resort Club and one of the richest business people in Cambodia having won several lucrative state concessions. He was one of the high-profile citizens who welcomed Thaksin.


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