|Miss World 2010 relocation scandal brewing|
|15:39' 26/10/2009 (GMT+7)|
VietNamNet Bridge – Hoang Kieu, General Director of the US-based RAAS group, which will organize the Miss World 2010 pageant in
Hoang Kieu’s dispatch to Khanh Hoa authorities stated that RAAS would ask the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to hold the Miss World 2010 finals in Tien Giang and not in Khanh Hoa.
Khanh Hoa Vice-Chairman Le Xuan Than confirmed that he received RAAS’ dispatch in late September and refused to comment, noting that the province may contact the media to discuss its reaction later.
A revealing timeline of events
Miss World Organization Chairperson Julia Morley surveyed Nha Trang in Khanh Hoa province on July 9 2008 and met with Hoang Kieu to sign a deal to hold Miss World 2010 in Nha Trang. They announced their agreement on July 13.
In October 2008, Hoang Kieu, Morley and Khanh Hoa authorities met with the media to talk about the event. Khanh Hoa province also received approval from Deputy PM Nguyen Thien Nhan.
To better serve the pageant, RAAS submitted the 15 kilometer “
requested the construction of an ecological tourist site to be named “A Thousand Underwater Stars” in Dam Bay of Nha Trang.
Some scientists and environmentalists protested the latter project, arguing it would damage the sea environment. Other experts cited the plan’s redundancy, since Nha Trang has an 8000-seat stage in the Diamond Bay Resort and has sufficient hotel space already.
Hoang Kieu asked Khanh Hoa People’s Committee in November 2008 to repeal both plans, but remained committed to organizing Miss World 2010 in Nha Trang.
On June 8, 2009, Hoang Kieu and Morley still publicly agreed on the Nha Trang site.
However, on October 24, Hoang Kieu was present at the Thoi Son ecological tourism site to oversee construction of facilities. Many banners advertised the upcoming Miss World 2010 pageant.
Nguyen Ngoc Minh, Director of Tien Giang Department of Culture, Tourism and Sports, confirmed that his province had approved the Hoang Kieu’s Tien Giang Tourism JS Company’s ecological tourism project to serve the Miss World 2010 pageant.
Tien Giang authorities agreed to ask for official government permission to hold the event in Tien Giang at the request of Hoang Kieu.
Minh revealed that Hoang Kieu explained the move by claiming that expenditures would be huge in Nha Trang because they would have to rent everything for the pageant. Meanwhile, as Chairman of the Tien Giang Tourism JS Company with land on Thoi Son Islet, Hoang Kieu could invest in the land to both serve the pageant and benefit his company.
According to a manager of the Tien Giang Tourism JS Company, they bought 17 hectares of land on Thoi Son islet in My Tho city to build a tourism site for Miss World 2010. This site will include 500 bungalows in southern style, a restaurant of 1000 seats, a 5000-seat stage, shopping malls, and an exhibition center.
Thoi Son is over 1200 hectares and is an ecological tourist site in the Mekong Delta. This site welcomes hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors a year.
Khanh Hoa People’s Committee Office’s Chairman Huynh Ngoc Bong said that RAAS claimed it wanted to move the pageant to Tien Giang to help them implement its goal of abolishing slums.
Tien Giang’s Nguyen Ngoc Minh said that Hoang Kieu has agreed to an October 2010 deadline. If the government allows Tien Giang to host the Miss World pageant, then the province will support these plans.
“One year is not long but not short for preparations. The most important thing is the government’s decision,” Minh stated.
“Hoang Kieu has committed our province to complete the construction of all necessary facilities to serve the Miss World pageant, otherwise, contestants and guests will stay in
“The distance from
At present, My Tho, Tien Giang’s capital, has only one 3-star hotel and one ongoing 4-star hotel project, which may not be completed by late 2010.
A beauty contest often includes a swimwear show on the beach. If Miss World 2010 is held in Tien Giang, contestants may have to model swimwear on the
Minh revealed that RAAS Chairman Hoang Kieu, a Vietnamese American, and Tien Giang authorities had not gone into such details yet.
When asked why Hoang Kieu, the RASS chairman, is also the chairman of the Tien Giang Tourism JS Company, a state-owned firm, Minh replied, “I don’t remember how many percentages of shares of the Tien Giang Tourism JS Company are held by Hoang Kieu. I only know that he has bought nearly all this company’s shares.”
“This is part of the province’s equitization policy and anyone who has the money can buy the shares,” he added.
At the beginning, this project had a total area of 17 hectares. The investor, Tien Giang Tourism JS Company, is said to buy an additional 14 hectares to construct additional facilities for the Miss World 2010, including the 400 luxurious bungalows, a 1000-seat restaurant, a 5000-seat theatre, and shopping malls at a cost of 300 billion dong ($17.6 million).
However, according to Saigon Tiep Thi, a group of three investors, including Hoang Kieu, bought 97 percent of the Tien Giang Tourism JS Company’s shares in 2007. Hoang Kieu’s project on the Thoi Son Islet doesn’t include the purchase of an additional of 14 hectares of land.
Organizer plans to change Miss World venue
The organizer of the 2010 Miss World pageant in Vietnam plans to shift the event from the resort town of Nha Trang to Tien Giang Province in the Mekong Delta.
The move, supposedly based on cost factors, has sparked concerns the new venue will not be able to prepare adequately for the event.
The central government and authorities of Khanh Hoa Province last year granted Rare Antibody Antigen Supply, Inc. (RAAS) the right to hold the international competition in Nha Trang, which had already hosted the Miss Universe contest in August 2008.
But now RAAS wanted to move the pageant to Tien Giang as it would cost much less to organize the event there, according to an official of the Mekong Delta Province, who also confirmed that they were seeking approval from the central government to become the official host.
Nguyen Hong Minh, deputy director of the Department of Planning and Investment, said RAAS Chairman Hoang Kieu plans to build a five-star ecotourism resort in Thoi Son Commune for the event at the end of next year.
Officials in the province said the pageant would be a great opportunity to promote tourism. However, there were also worries that the province would not be able to prepare for the event in short time remaining.
An official, who wished to be unnamed, said the Miss World pageant was a big event while “the province’s capabilities are limited and there is so little time left to prepare.”
My Tho Town, the capital of the province, only has one three-star hotel. There is a four-star hotel project under construction but it will not be completed next year.
Luu Van Phi, a resident in My Tho, said he was surprised on hearing that his province, which “doesn’t hold any special position on the country’s map,” may host the 2010 Miss World pageant.
“I really don’t know if the province can pull it off,” he said.
An official of Khanh Hoa Province said moving the pageant away from Nha Trang would cause many difficulties to the organizer.
He said the provincial government has already started a campaign to support the event and it would write to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to express its stance on the issue.
Nha Trang has been promoted heavily as the host of the 2010 Miss World pageant overr the past year.
RAAS Chairman Hoang Kieu unveiled a plan in October last year to build a 1,530-hectare resort at Nha Trang Bay which would become the venue of the pageant in 2010.
The project was criticized by many scientists and environmentalists, who said it would damage the environment at the bay. In November, Kieu canceled the plan, as well as another road project in Nha Trang.
As of June this year, however, Kieu had still confirmed that Nha Trang would host the event.
Source: Thanh Nien, Tuoi Tre