The local conglomerate Royal Group on Friday hit back against the government’s claims that it had built a jetty on O’Tres Beach in Sihanoukville without permission, insisting in a statement that a former provincial governor had given the go-ahead for the construction.
On Wednesday, the National Committee for Cambodia Bay Management and Development ordered the company to demolish the jetty, calling it “anarchic construction” and saying that Royal Group started building the 40-meter-long structure at the same time it asked the government for permission to build it, rather than waiting for a decision.
In a statement disseminated online and addressed to the public and the media, Royal Group, which is headed by the well-connected tycoon Kith Meng, said its pier and the offshore development projects it is intended to serve would greatly boost coastal tourism.
The company also claimed that former provincial governor Chhit Sokhon, who was promoted to a position in the Interior Ministry last year, had granted permission for the jetty to be built.
“The company is carrying out the principal agreement, dated July 2015, with His Excellency Chhit Sokhon, who was the governor of Preah Sihanouk province at the time, to build two jetties: one on the mainland and one on the island,” the letter reads.
“The company has studied the development thoroughly and cooperated with authorities and ministries responsibly. There is no reason that the company would violate the law or damage the benefit of the nation.”
Mr. Sokhon, however, said that the jetty did not fit the profile of the structure he had approved.
“In the letter we only agreed for the company to build a temporary jetty, and to do so in conjunction with authorities and environmental experts,” he said.
While the agreement did not specify how long the jetty could be, the former governor said what had been built was “different from what the company requested.”
Provincial Governor Yun Min said Friday that he had ordered the company to stop building, but refusing to say when the jetty would be demolished.
“We will do it step by step,” he said.
Royal Group Vice Chairman Chhun Buntha, who is in charge of the project, said construction had stopped and he was waiting for orders on what to do next.
“We will let the top leaders resolve this issue, he said. “It all depends on Oknha Kith Meng.”
Mr. Meng declined to comment when contacted on Friday.