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Vietnam city delays demolition of illegal $4.5mn palace as magnate calls for PM help

Wednesday, December 02, 2015, 14:42 GMT+7

While the deadline to have his illegally built palace demolished drew near, a gold mining mogul in central Vietnam has sought help from an unusual source:  the prime minister. And it worked.

Ngo Van Quang, director of a gold company based in Quang Nam Province, constructed a VND100 billion (US$4.58 million) palace without permission inside the boundaries of a special-use forest near the Hai Van Mountain in Da Nang City.

In July the city’s authorities requested that Quang remove the bulky estate by August 30, before extending the deadline to the end of November as per his petition.

However, as the days ticked toward the November 30 deadline, Quang sent a petition to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, seeking permission to retain the palace and turn it into an ecotourism area to “create jobs for locals.”

Some residents of Lien Chieu District, where the palace is situated, have also submitted a similar petition to the premier, claiming many unemployed people will benefit if the property is turned into a tourism area.

The last-ditch effort proved successful as the Da Nang administration issued a fiat on Tuesday, saying the forced removal of the estate is now “postponed pending a decision from the prime minister and the state inspectors.”

The Vietnamese Government Inspectorate sent a team to work with the Lien Chieu administration and local residents on the issue.

It is unclear when the state inspectors will release the final decision on the fate of the luxurious estate.

In late 2014, the administration of Lien Chieu District discovered two illegally constructed buildings in the locality: the villa of Quang and a 4,000 hectare villa of Major General Phan Nhu Thach, former director of the Police Department of Quang Nam Province.

Authorities then fined the owners of both properties VND22.5 million ($1,000) each for the illegal construction work, and demanded that they clear their buildings within 35 days from February 4 this year.

While Thach obeyed the order, having his villa demolished in March, Quang has repeatedly called on different agencies to retain his building.

The sudden decision to postpone the demolition of Quang’s palace has surprised the public, as the Da Nang administration had earlier showed determination to settle the case.

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