Kith Meng

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Neak Oknha Kith Meng
Kith Meng.jpg
Born (1968-09-01) September 1, 1968 (age 48)
Kandal, Cambodia
Residence Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Citizenship Cambodian, Australian
Alma mater Australian National University (B.A.)
Occupation Chief Executive Officer of The Royal Group
Years active 1991–present
Known for Bussinessman
Net worth US$0.6 billion
Spouse(s) Srey Toch Chamnan
Children 4
Website Royal Group

Kith Meng (Khmer: គិត ម៉េង;Chinese:陈丰明 born September 1, 1968) is a Cambodian businessman. He is the Chairman of The Royal Group which counts among its many holdings 45% of ANZ Royal Bank, the mobile phone operator Mobitel and 45% of Toll Royal Railways. Meng also owns[1] a majority stake in Cambodia's leading television and telecommunications networks, Cambodian Broadcasting Corporation and CamGSM.[2] Meng is known for his preferences for entering Cambodian companies into joint ventures including international companies.[3]

Early years[edit]

Kith Meng is the youngest of three sons of Chinese Cambodian businessman Kith Peng Ike. Kith Meng led a comfortable life in his hometown in Kandal Province until 1975 when the advent of the Khmer Rouge regime caused major social upheaval.[4] Kith's family were among those targeted by the Khmer Rouge because of their wealth, ethnicity and socio-economic status. The entire family was sent to a labour camp where, upon arrival, Meng and his two brothers were separated from their parents who later died of starvation.[5] During the confusion resulting from the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea, Meng escaped with his older brother to Phnom Penh, from which they then fled for the refugee camps in Thailand. In Thailand, Meng later related, “They put us in a pig farm...we slept with the pigs...we no longer existed; we had no state, nothing."[5] In 1980, Meng and Thieng were found by a family member in a Thai refugee camp and both brothers immigrated to Australia, where they worked and attended school in the nation's capital, Canberra.

Returning from Australia to Cambodia[edit]

In 1991 Meng and Thieng returned to Cambodia, where he and his older brother Sophan Kith began selling furniture and office supplies to the UN and operated a Canon copiers franchise before establishing The Royal Group.[5] In 2008, Meng unseated Sok Kong as President of Cambodia's Chamber Of Commerce. He was elected by his fellow Chamber members unopposed for another three-year term in 2011[6] and again in 2014.[7]

Politics[edit]

Commentators have compared Meng to other well-known Asian tycoons including Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew and Thailand's Thaksin Shinawatra.[3] However, Meng has downplayed suggestions he may one day stand for the Prime Ministership, saying, "leave politics to the politicians".[5] Still, Meng often accompanies Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen abroad to help promote Cambodia's economic interests[5] and is a strong supporter of Hun Sen. Meng carries the honorary title of "Neak Oknha", a title bestowed by the Royal Family on those who make contributions of $100,000 or more.[4]

Meng's business practices and close ties to a government widely seen as authoritarian[8] and corrupt[9] have led to controversy. In June 2011, WikiLeaks exposed an American diplomatic cable calling Meng a “relatively young and ruthless gangster”.[6] Meng has received particular criticism regarding his land deals and land rights, being accused of using his political connections to forcefully clear questionably acquired real estate of residents and national monuments in order to proceed with development.[4][10] Meng and his companies have also been the center of controversies regarding environmental issues in Cambodia, most prominently illegal logging in protected areas of the northeast (including Virachey National Park) displacing indigenous villages[11] and destroying rural villages and fishing grounds for hydroelectric projects without compensation or proper environmental assessment reports.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lee, Yoolim (27 August 2008). Pol Pot Victims From Killing Fields Plan Resorts by Angkor Wat Bloomberg. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
  2. ^ Crispin, Shawn W (1 September 2007). "The rise and rise of a Cambodian capitalist". Asia Times. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Minder, Raphael Minder (17 August 2008). "Cambodia's Transforming Tycoon". Financial Times. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Gluckman, Ron (2 November 2008). "Bringing Commerce to Cambodia". Forbes Magazine. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Powell, Sian (21 March 2011). "Royal Connections". The Australian. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Rann, Reuy (9 August 2011). "Kith Meng re-elected". The Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  7. ^ Muyhong, Chan (23 January 2015). "Subedi talks rights with CCC president Kith Meng". Phnom Penh Post. Retrieved 16 September 2015. 
  8. ^ Megha Bahree (24 September 2014). "In Cambodia, A Close Friendship With The PM Leads To Vast Wealth For One Power Couple". Forbes. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "NEW LAW COULD MUZZLE CAMBODIANS' CRITICISM OF GOVERNMENT AND SHUT DOWN DEMOCRATIC DEBATE, WARNS GLOBAL WITNESS". Global Witness. July 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  10. ^ Aun, Pheap (30 December 2014). "Governor Offers Help to Farmers in Land Dispute With Kith Meng". The Cambodia Daily. Retrieved 16 September 2015. 
  11. ^ Hul, Reaksmey (27 August 2015). "New Report Shows Huge Loss of Cambodia's Forest". Voice of America, Khmer. Retrieved 16 September 2015. Many companies have carried out logging in this area, surrounding and inside this park, including An Mady Group, Kith Meng Group... 
  12. ^ Denyer, Simon (5 September 2015). "China's Back Yard: Cambodia The push and pull of China's orbit". The Washington Post. Retrieved 16 September 2015. 

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