(CAAI News Media)
Pad Supa, a leading businessman and senator in Koh Kong, has a close connection with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. In an excerpt from an interview with Jakkrit Waewkraihong in Trat, Mr Pad aired his views on development in the Cambodian province and the thorny issues that have marred relations between Cambodia and Thailand.
- What are the government's development plans for Koh Kong, especially its attempt to make the province a special economic area?
The government has laid out broad ideas, from improving all necessary utilities to facilitating business growth. The province is ideal for development because it borders Thailand and is also close to the sea.
- Would high property prices in Koh Kong or any state rules hinder investment?
Land prices are not as expensive as expected. They soared after the opening of Road 48 [from the Thai border province of Trat to Srey Ampel], speculation about Thaksin Shinawatra's plan to invest there and the discovery of natural gas and oil deposits in overlapping maritime areas between Cambodia and Thailand.
- How realistic is Thaksin's plan to invest in Koh Kong?
There's no progress now. Mr Thaksin has no plans to invest here, but he knows many foreign businessmen and could invite them to invest in Koh Kong and the other provinces.
- Has the fishing concession dispute between Thailand and the Koh Kong authorities been solved?
That problem has ended. We've reopened our waters since Dec 4. In fact, we have just adjusted our conditions on fishing near Koh Kong following the appointment of a new governor [Yuth Pouthang].
So far, we've awarded concessions to 200 Thai fishing boats without charging higher fees.
- Will the continuing conflict between the two countries lead to new problems?
That's an issue between the governments. None of the present problems have anything to do with the ordinary people or businessmen. To be honest, They all seem to be personal problems.
- How long do you think the current problems will last?
It will go on for some time, I think. Abhisit Vejjajiva and Hun Sen have still not understood each other.