The Shwe Kokko new city project is witnessing a gradual expansion of gambling, casino, and entertainment businesses during the ongoing coup, local and Shan State businessmen, as well as businesspeople from the Chinese border, are flocking to the area to settle and invest. As a result, the real estate prices have surged to tens of lakhs of baht and are currently being actively traded.
“Previously, plots of land measuring 60 feet, 200 feet, or even 1 acre were priced at a few hundred thousand baht. However, the current situation has resulted in a significant surge in land prices, which have skyrocketed to tens of lakhs of baht. Similarly, house and plot rents, which used to be around 1000 to 2000 baht, have now risen to 5000 to 10000 baht. In addition, the areas that are conducive for opening a shop are crowded with Chinese people, Shan-Chinese people who speak Chinese, and migrated businesspeople from the southern part of Myanmar”, a local real estate told KIC.
The Shwe Kokko new city project was initiated in 2010 during the reign of former President U Thein Sein. However, locals have expressed concerns over the rise of gambling houses, entertainment businesses, online games, and online money fraud businesses, which are mostly owned by Chinese citizens. Despite this, there has been a significant increase in the popularity of Chinese restaurants, beauty salons, massage parlors, construction businesses, Chinese language courses, home decoration businesses, interpreting services, as well as car and motorcycle rental businesses, which depend on the aforementioned economic pillars.
“There are not many Karen people in Shwe Kokko like before. They constructed bunkhouses and shops on their land, which they rented out to migrants and entrepreneurs. They have since relocated to farmlands, and some have sold their properties and moved to the villages on the Myawaddy side where they have Karen relatives. As a result, Shwe Kokko is now teeming with unfamiliar individuals. Additionally, being able to speak Chinese and communicate effectively with the Chinese has become crucial in securing good jobs. This has led to an influx of people from Shan State, China border areas, and mainland Bamar ares settling here”, a local of Shwe Kokko No.4 ward said.
According to observers, the proliferation of illegal casinos, online gaming, and entertainment businesses in areas bordering Karen State and Thailand, such as Myawaddy-Mae Sot, Three Pagodas Pass-Sangkhla Buri, as well as Mawtaung from Tanintharyi Region to Kanchanaburi, has been on a steady rise since the military coup, and these businesses are predominantly run by Chinese nationals.
Despite numerous reports of Chinese casinos and online money fraud gangs deceiving foreign nationals in the region, tricking them into smuggling and forcing them to work, locals said a growing influx of migrant workers in and around Shwe Kokko.