The connected and the bereft, or the politics of business in Phnom Penh

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Phnom Penh’s private sector comprises a relatively small number of wealthy tycoons, who run large and diversified business conglomerates, and a majority of small-scale shopkeepers and manufacturers. This dividing line between big and small business parallels a dividing line between the politically connected and bereft. The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has co-opted the country’s most lucrative economic sectors, and provides privileges and protection to tycoons active in these sectors in exchange for loyalty and financial contributions to the CPP. The majority of business owners, meanwhile, are deprived of political backing and instead cope with rent-seeking officials and other impediments to develop their businesses beyond the status of small and medium-sized enterprise (SME). This essay explores the nature of political interference in Phnom Penh’s private sector, revealing contrasting experiences between tycoons and SME owners in the context of Hun Sen’s highly exclusive development agenda.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-41
Number of pages2
JournalIIAS Newsletter
Issue number78
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


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