By SUN Narin
Since the Diamond Island Night Market opens, Nge Muoy Ly, 26, the owner of Panleu Chan clothes shop, started her business and it bears fruit. Now she does not open her shop regularly since there are no people coming to visit the isle like before.
“I closed the shop a few days ago because no one comes to buy my clothes,” she said, adding that she used to earn from 60 to 80 dollars per day.
Before the stampede incident killing 351 people and injuring hundreds, Diamond Island which is known as Koh Pich is a popular place for people to enjoy the entertainment venues and see the view there. Now the isle is silent comparing to before, fewer people go to visit the island, leading the business operations over there to bad condition, raising doubt whether the running will be able to recover to the normal situation in the shortcoming future or not.
A number of business operations have been running on the isle including entertainment places for children, fantastic garden, conventional buildings for wedding ceremony, shopping places, restaurants, ice-skating rink, night market, and many others. The isle has been developed from day to day and has been considered as the business area and local tourist attraction site. Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen said in September 2010 that the 555-meter skyscraper (1,820-foot) is going to emerge on this development zone.
“It [my selling] has plummeted compared to previous time. Only three to five people come to my shop per day,” said Kim Sa, 24, the owner of Yi Meng Heang Soup and Drink adjacent to the incident bridge.
She said that normally on weekends there were around 100 customers coming to her shop, and she made profits, adding that she used to close the shop at 11 or 12 pm, but now she closes before 8pm.
“Sometimes, people just come around, but they do not eat. I cannot afford to buy grocery let alone to pay for the shop,” she said.
Chhin Mey Ling, 27, who is the owner of Mey Ling souvenir shop at Diamond island, said that her business has been falling down extremely, explaining that normally she earned from 50 to 70 dollars, but now even ten dollars.
“There are no customers, only few people who just drive motors in and out,” she said, adding that “I think it is not easy to get back to normal situation. Now I am really in trouble. If it does not change, I will stop my business soon.”
Diamond Island did not charge the selling at night market in last year’s December and the shop owners will get 50 percent discounted for the following month if their business still does not recover according to the Diamond Island company.
Not only has the business at night market gone down sharply, but also those at entertainment places for children and adults. The owners are complaining about their business since there are fewer guests coming to play at their places.
“My business has been in crisis now. Few people come to play and sometimes no one plays,” said Sok Nam, 28, the owner of carousel, adding that he earns only 10 to 15 dollars per day comparing to previous time 100 to 200 dollars which he could earn per day.
The Island company did not charge Sok Nam and the other children entertainment for 2 months [November and December] but he is still worried about his business in the future because he did not know when people would come to visit this place as normal like before.
“Now I cannot afford to pay for the gasoline. I think it takes time to recover since people are afraid of the incident,” he said.
Since the opening of the Diamond Island wedding facilities, this place had also become a popular location for weddings due to its large banquting halls. There are dozens of the buildings for the wedding ceremony. Previously, people think that this is the best place for the wedding event, but now some people see the place as not good for their wedding and they changed to the other places.
Sambath, who was married on last year’s November 27 changed his wedding place from Diamond Island, said that he decided to change his marriage place after the stampede incident happened because all the guests were afraid of going there, following his parent’s saying that marrying there was not good at all.
“They [guests] are just quick to come and go and the wedding will finish early, so it will not be joyful,” he said.
“I do not think the place will be good for wedding in the future since a lot of people were dead there,” he said.
This idea resisting to celebrating wedding at Koh Pich is echoed by Mrs. Sok Chantha, 27, who changed her wedding party from Diamond Island.
“There would be no guests if I celebrated my wedding there and I would lose a lot of money for my marriage. I am afraid that it will bring ill luck to me in the future,” she said.
A number of Cambodian people who are Buddhist always consider the place bad for them to go since they are afraid of something evil will happen to them if they go there.
“I do want to go there anymore because a lot of people died, which makes me afraid, especially I do not want to see the fatal bridge,” said Ms. Kin Samoeurn, 26, who is living in Phnom Penh and often went there before the stampede incident, adding that there will be evil there causing a lot of deaths.
Chea Pech Borasy, 24, a year-four student at Institute of Foreign Languages at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, also agreed to Kin Samoeurn’s idea, saying that before she often went there on the weekend or holiday, but now she stopped going there because she is afraid of the place and do not want see the bridge.
“I will not go to the Island for any ceremony anymore because I am scared. My parents prohibited me from going there too,” said Chea Pech Borasy.
The Diamond Island developers have many development plans for this 100-hectare city which has been developed into residential and commercial area, now one of the most attractive spot for revelers in Phnom Penh both day and night.
Charles Vann, the spokesman of Diamond Island Company under Overseas Cambodian Investment Corporation (OCIC), said that the project still follows the master plan of the company without changing.
“It does not affect the whole plan. It is just short-time thinking and scare-mongering,” he said, adding that the business there has been starting recovered a bit, claiming that his company has organized concerts and other activities to attract the visitors to come like before.
There will be film and theater centers, commercial buildings, shopping mall, hospital, luxurious hotels and hundreds of housing buildings which have been under way, according to Charles Vann.
Cambodia’s prime minister Hun Sen said on November 29th that the Diamond Island will be developed as planned without any change and he would make this place more developed and appealing to the people more than before.
Meas Theara, 45, who still takes her two children to play at the entertainment venues, said that Diamond Island is still the good place for people to visit due to its modernity and a variety of entertainment.
“The fear was over. People should no longer think about that evil event,” she said.