The chairman of Khanh Hoa Province has reportedly called those criticizing the controversial plan to urbanize Nha Trang “a shortsighted minority,” arguing that the town has to be rebuilt to rival Singapore and Hong Kong.
Tuoi Tre reported that Nguyen Chien Thang met with local residents Wednesday to justify his plan that will add a lot more multi-story buildings along Tran Phu, the main road facing the beach in the tourist town.
The road now has several hotels and buildings of between 29 to 41 stories. It is going to host four other mix developments of between 17 and 50 stories.
But the new plan also gives most of the eastern part of the road to Phoenix, a megaproject that includes a boardwalk, a luxury apartment building of 50,000 square meters and a hotel-shopping mall complex of over 10,000 square meters.
Indian developer Dewan International said on the website of the 4.3-kilometer-long project that it is “rebuilding Nha Trang.”
Thang dismissed all concerns over negative changes that Dewan's project and others might bring to the scenery and the environment of Nha Trang.
He said Nha Trang is to become a "special urban area" similar to Hong Kong or Singapore.
He called the public outcry reported on local media recently was actually the view of "a small number of people.”
“We follow the majority’s opinions and we abide by the laws,” he said, adding that the province has received approval from "a national council" and the prime minister.
'More beautiful than Hawaii'
“If we follow the shortsighted opinions, we will never be able to develop Khanh Hoa. And we are determined to develop Nha Trang and make it even more beautiful than Hawaii.”
He said if people are looking for an ecological area, they "are welcome" at Van Phong Bay or Bai Dai Beach, two other tourism destinations in the province.
Thang left quickly after making his speech and refused to answer any questions from the residents.
Nguyen Van Loc, former director of Khanh Hoa’s construction department and chairman of the city’s architect association, said he was disappointed.
Loc’s association was among a panel of former Khanh Hoa leaders and urban planning experts protesting the plan when the province invited them to review and critique it.
“It’s really sad hearing the chairman call us a minority group without a vision.”
He said that Thang could not decribe his plan as backed by the pubic because the public did not even know about it in the beginning.
The chairman has not presented any paper proving that the project is supported by the central government either, Loc said.
He said he had hoped that the meeting meant public opinions were listened.
“But from what the chairman said, I think it's unlikely that there will be change.”