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Fijian island the centre of a controversial new development

Mon, May 20, 12:40pm by Staff Writer

A 60 Minutes report has revealed the Fijian island, which has been earmarked to make way for a casino.

According to 9 News, Australian mates Woody Jack and Navrin Fox couldn’t believe their luck when they foul the untouched beach on Fiji’s Malolo Island.

The surfers thought they’d found the perfect slice of paradise, so were quick to secure a 99-year lease for the beachfront property, with humble plans to build three eco-friendly bures on the land.

Their Fijian dream soon became a nightmare when Chinese developers moved in next door and began bulldozing everything in sight.

Rainforest was destroyed and reef and sandy beach made way for a massive resort, which was to include Fiji’s only casino.

“We just had a little dream…some land in Fiji would be great, we’re in a position to do it,” Nav says.

“And then Goliath steps in next door and just starts throwing his fists around and smashing stuff up and going crazy.”

Billion-dollar Chinese development company Freesoul is responsible for tearing apart the Fijian paradise.

They illegally excavated the reef off Malolo Island and then used the deal coral to build a road over Nav and Woody’s beachfront so they could move their heavy equipment on their site.

“There’s thousands of tonnes of dead reef,” Nav says.

Freesoul also cut down half the trees on the boys’ property and destroyed a huge section of mangroves along the foreshore.

For Fiji local partner Jonah Joseva, who has a third share in the land with Woody and Nav, it’s also a matter of intense disrespect against the Fijian people.

“They have no respect for us,” he tells 9 News.

“They just dig and do all the damage down there.”

Freesoul even erected a huge fence to try and keep the trio out of their land.

The situation escalated earlier this year when Nav took a New Zealand film crew with him to document the damage.

A Freesoul employee repeatedly tried to eject Nav from the property, becoming physically aggressive.

“The last thing you expect is for someone to come out and start yelling at you and trying to physically remove you from your land,” Nav said.

“It’s devastating.”

SJM’s Macau licenses up for renewal

Macau’s gambling hub is known for its flashy casinos and bright lights, but also a powerful family dynasty.

97-year-old Stanley Ho is the patriarch of SJM Holdings Ltd and trouble is brewing among his 17 children about who has a controlling interest in the company.

Ho became known as the ‘king of gambling’ after he build Macau’s first casino in 1962.

He became a billionaire from his 40-year monopoly in the city but over time, his tricky family life have made succession planning a tricky business.

In recent weeks, the children from his second wife, Lucina Laam, have forged an alliance with another group of shareholders – Hong Kong’s influential Fok family – to gain voting control of the board.

Now the concentration of power in a single branch of the family, backed by the might of another Chinese empire, could boost business as they seek permission to continue operating in Macau’s $53 billion a year gaming industry.

SJM is one of Asia’s oldest gambling businesses and still controls the largest number of casinos in Macau.

“The shareholders in the alliance all possess irreplaceable goodwill, accumulated through prolonged understanding and exposure in various industry sectors in Macau and mainland China,” Daisy Ho, SJM’s chairman and one of Laam’s daughter, said in her first interview since the pact was announced on January 23.

Members of the alliance have interests in retail, hospitality, conferences and travel services, she said.

“Together with Timothy Fok, who is co-chairman of SJM, we can leverage and apply these resources to further develop SJM’s competitiveness to pursue the new gaming concession.”

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