Government Revokes Contract for Takeo Resort Development

The Bati Tourism Development agency lost the right to manage and develop Tonle Bati Resort in Takeo province due to a breach of its contract with the government, the Council of Ministers announced Friday.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said an investigation into the company was prompted by complaints from residents living near the resort. Community members accused the agency of overcharging vendors for supplies and space, and charging an entrance fee to the Ta Prohm temple, which formerly operated on donations.

Mr. Siphan said the agency’s director, Sok Saroeun, also failed to fulfill her agreement to construct a road in the area and keep the resort clean.

“The investor breached the contract, so we annulled the contract,” he said. “This was to protect the public interest as well as the environment in that area.”

Ms. Saroeun could not be reached for comment.

Bati Tourism Development was granted a contract from the government in 2004 to manage and develop Tonle Bati Resort and the surrounding area, according to Mr. Siphan.

But local and provincial authorities had been receiving complaints for months that the agency was taking advantage of locals and “not improving anything,” he said.

This led to a series of government meetings over the past two months, which culminated Thursday morning with a decision to cancel the contract and find a new investor.

“We want to send a message that if you breach the terms of your contract, your contract will be annulled,” Mr. Siphan said.

“We hope people learn from this case.”

(Additional reporting by Kang Sothear)

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