Immigration Officials Hawk Condo Project

With capital condominium sales sagging, one Japanese development company has turned to an unlikely group of marketers: airport immigration officials.

For the past several months, foreigners passing through Phnom Penh International Airport have likely found a flyer promoting Creed Group’s Bodaiju Residences—the “1st and biggest Japanese Condominium in Cambodia”—wedged between the pages of their passport after clearing airport immigration, in defiance of the company that owns the airport, the government’s top aviation body and possibly the law.

A brochure advertising Bodaiju Residences, which has been placed inside passports of foreigners by Phnom Penh International Airport immigration officials. (The Cambodia Daily)
A brochure advertising Bodaiju Residences, which has been placed inside passports of foreigners by Phnom Penh International Airport immigration officials. (The Cambodia Daily)

“We have on many occasions raised the issue with the airport immigration, but to no avail at this point,” Cambodia Airports spokesman Khek Norinda wrote in an email on Monday.

“We believe that the unusual initiative is not conducive to the airport experience and welcoming environment expected from passengers,” he wrote.

The distribution had been going on with a few pauses for the past couple months, according to Mr. Norinda.

Sinn Chanserey Vutha, a spokesman for the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA), said the agency also asked immigration authorities to halt the practice.

“They commit not to doing this anymore but do it again,” he said. “We have no power to tell them to stop. But we share with them about the inappropriate behavior.”

Mr. Vutha said SSCA had issued another request to the airport’s senior immigration official on Monday after receiving questions from a reporter.

“There will be an immediate measure to solve this issues soon,” he said in an email, later adding that the immigration department “needs more time to clarify” procedures before taking action.

Immigration officials working at the airport, along with their bosses in the Interior Ministry, could not be reached on Monday.

The promotion may defy the law, or at least the principle of public service, according to San Chey, country director for the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability.

“I do think that immigrant police officials are not allowed to do this as they may face a conflict of interest and that service is not in the a public interest,” he wrote in an email on Monday.

Cheng Sokha, sales and marketing director for Bodaiju Residences, said the advertising had been coordinated by one of many third-party firms that the company had hired.

“We don’t know which agents handle this activity,” she said on Monday. “We do not directly handle this activity.”

Ms. Sokha conceded the firm was nonetheless aware of the promotion, which she said had helped draw clients in a competitive market. Finance Ministry data shows a 50 percent drop in condominium sales over the first half of this year compared to last year.

“Actually, it’s helping, because we received some visitors to the showroom,” she said of the brochures, adding that Creed Group had assumed the promotion was legal.

“If it’s really an illegal activity, we will ask our agents to stop it,” she said.

Located opposite the airport off Russian Boulevard, the development will feature six apartment buildings with rooftop sky pools and gardens set amidst a “harmonious balance of quality modern living and natural tranquility,” according to the company’s website.

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