Michael Jackson's dad in Vietnam 'Happyland' scheme

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The father of late pop icon Michael Jackson on Monday helped start work on a $2 billion hotel-entertainment complex called "Happyland", billed by Vietnam as the region's largest tourism project.

Joe Jackson told Vietnamese television he has invested in a five-star hotel as part of a major development project in southern Long An province.

During a live broadcast of the groundbreaking ceremony, Jackson -- whose son died in 2009 -- said the legendary singer "lived to make people happy and I am proud to maintain that, making Vietnamese people happier.

"My wish is to promote this project to all friends across the world so that they understand more about your country," Jackson said.

The lead investor, Vietnam's Khang Thong Group, has compared the project to Disneyland or Universal Studios.

Along with the 1,000-room hotel in which Jackson has invested, Happyland is to include a water park, film studio, theatres, a riverfront boardwalk, restaurants and other facilities, according to the group.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan told the ceremony that Happyland, due to open in 2014, would be "the largest tourism project in South Vietnam and Southeast Asia."

Nhan said the "international-standard" project near the southern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City aimed to draw 14 million visitors a year including three million foreigners.

The groundbreaking ceremony came exactly one year after Singapore opened its first casino resort, a multi-billion-dollar project which includes a Universal Studios movie theme park, as part of efforts to woo regional tourists.