Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is set to gain an unprecedented amount of power through the passing of a new “state of emergency” draft law, ostensibly designed to help the government tackle the coronavirus crisis. Rather ironically, at the same time, his political legacy as the person who brought peace and prosperity in Cambodia arguably risks being tainted beyond repair. He has never been so powerful yet so weak.
The health crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic is only set to worsen in Cambodia in the coming months, though more deleterious may be the looming economic crisis. The World Bank now forecasts economic growth to slump to between 2.5 percent and 1 percent this year, but even that may be optimistic. It’s impossible to put succinctly just how many problems the economy faces – and by quite how much it could collapse.