Cambodia’s ‘lords’ form union under Hun Sen ahead of polls

New association of tycoons to impart 'ethics' to scandal-hit elite.

A group of Cambodian tycoons bearing the title “lord” have banded together in a formal association ahead of national elections in July, with a plan to impart “ethics” to their growing ranks after years of public scandals.

Originally intended as an honorific for those committed to charity, the title of oknha — bestowed on Cambodians who donate money or equipment that is worth more than $500,000 — has been doled out in recent years to powerful business people in virtually every industry, some of whom have been accused of land-grabbing and corruption.

The new group of 32 prominent oknha is trying to exert more control over those with the title, managing charity projects and overseeing ethics under a government council. Experts say the group could help the ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in power for 38 years, cement support from business elites for the election.

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