Jan 6, 2011

KHO KONG, CAMBODIA - Story in Focus

With this post I start the Story in Focus section, to introduce you new stories and give better insight to decide if you want to download it on your iPad.
This story, shoot a few months ago, comes with a complete article in the final page by Massimo Morello (English and Italian versions). The synopsis..

The next Hong Kong, that of the golden days, free-zone for every sort of trafficking, should revive in Koh Kong, Cambodia, a village on the Gulf of Siam, just beyond the Thai border. It 'a promise of the former Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in a coup in 2006, convicted for corruption, fugitive in Dubai, Nicaragua, South Africa and Cambodia. Where he was appointed economic adviser from his "eternal and life-long friend" Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge for over twenty years and today Cambodian prime minister. Thaksin went to Koh Kong when he was in glory, and had twisted dealings with local boss Ly Yongphat, a senator from the ruling party in Cambodia, and suspected of being one of the Asian Godfathers who secretly control the East. Currently the only evidence of those connections and the future of Koh Kong is the Chinese-style resort-casino empire built by Ly Yongphat one hundred meters before the border with Thailand.
But beyond that kind of castle topped by dozens of statues of Greek gods there is nothing. The promised “special economic zone” in Koh Kong is a desert land surrounded by a wall already in ruins. The village of Koh Kong, on the banks of the river Kaoh Pao (dominated by a kilometer bridge financed by the ubiquitous Ly), is little more than a cluster of huts on the water - yes, smaller version of the Hong Kong in the 50s . For now, Koh Kong is mainly devoted to build Singapore's future, the sand removed from the bottom of its river that dozens of barges continue to carry to the city-state and whose sailors are the best customers of local prostitutes.
Koh Kong becomes a metaphor of that Next Asia described by Stephen Roach, economist and chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia: the promise, or threat of the Asian Century may be still far from becoming a reality. The Next Asia, in fact, is something that many analysts seem to assume only observing the thousand lights of Shanghai, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Without seeing what lies beyond the dark areas that cover the rest of the continent.

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