Perspectives from ISB

As per a recent report by Global Witness, titled ‘Hostile Takeover: The Corporate Empire of Cambodia’s Ruling Family’ the Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s family has stakes in over 114 domestic companies spanning key sectors, including energy, telecoms, mining and trading. More than 27 relatives of the premier are linked to companies whose official share capital value is more than $200 million. Among the 114 companies, 103 list a member of the Hun family as a chairperson or director or as having a shareholding of more than 25%. Many multinational giants have established distribution tie-ups with these companies to enter the domestic market.

Mr Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander, and his allies have established formidable control over Cambodia since they took power in the aftermath of the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge genocide. The country has seen fast economic growth thanks to low-wage manufacturing in sectors such as garments but other big industries, such as logging, have been plagued by accusations of wide-ranging corruption. The recent allegations echo wider criticisms of how Mr Hun Sen, Asia’s longest-ruling leader, has maintained good relations with the west during his 31 years in power, despite the emergence of large-scale land-grabbing, resource-stripping and enrichment of tycoons.