Reason foreigners cannot own ground floor: Naïveté

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Visitors evinced keen interest in new developments at the Cambodia Real Estate Show.

Foreigners in Cambodia are barred from owning the ground floor of any building in the Kingdom of Wonder.

I finally found out the origins of the prohibition early this month when I attended one of 16 presentations at the Cambodia Real Estate Show, a well organized two-day event that attracted numerous potential developers along with buyers of luxury apartments and buildings.  (Hey, you can take the broker out of real estate, but you can’t take real estate. . .)

It was not until 1989 and then in 2001 that government decrees defined the possession and subsequently, in 2001, full ownership rights of residential property.

Like most other countries in the region, Cambodia does not want foreigners to own a piece of the nation, no matter how small, as codified in Article 8 of the Land Law.

According to presenter Matthew Rendall — a lawyer who holds a Cambodian passport and is managing partner at SokSiphana & Associates in Phnom Penh — the stricture resulted from Continue reading

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Fight-dance group with unpronounceable name dazzles

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If like me you never have heard of Abadá-Capoeira, which is Brazilian martial arts, you are missing something special.  On a whim, I was lucky enough to catch a free performance featuring half a dozen of its athletes at the French Institute last weekend, and the event was enthralling.

While the activity clearly is a sport, it is one more like a performance absent any contact, except by mistake.  Abadá-Capoeira manages to combine the thrusts that remind me of jiu jitsu with the grace of dance.

With a name that I have no clue how to pronounce, the activity has its origins in Continue reading

Moral dilemma inescapable if investing in microfinance

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An ATM owned by Prasac Microfinance Institution in use at a branch in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province.  Source: Phnom Penh Post

Imagine that you could earn 4.75% interest for a term deposit of only one month.  Might you prefer a one-year term?  That would get you 9.75% per annum, and shorter or longer terms also are available at commensurate rates.

Do those rates sound too good to be true?  They are not.

With such returns offered by Prasac, one of Cambodia’s leading microfinance institutions (MFIs), the wise investor can Continue reading