On the Spending Habits of Khmer vs. Khmer-Chinese Descendants 

  • Cambodianess
  • June 11, 2020 11:40 AM

Samnang and Sothie have returned to their regular routine of spending their early mornings at the café. The two men still avoid crowded places and keep a pretty safe distance from other customers. These two companions were discussing a common topic that’s been raised by some people saying that Khmer-descendants spend money more carelessly than Khmer-Chinese descendants. 

: Eh, Sothie! Is it correct for people to talk like that? 

Sothie: How can I know if it is correct or not. I have been hearing this kind of opinion for a very long time. The older Khmer generations also have been mentioning this until the present day. 

Samnang: If many of the older generation have been observing this pattern, then this phenomenon could be real, what do you think Sothie?

Sothie: Again, I cannot know for sure. If you keep on asking the same question, well, I can act as a witness for you since I do know something about the Khmer society. I really want to clarify that what I am going to say is nothing more than just my personal opinion. Plus, I do not mean to cover all cases. I am not here to blame the Khmer descendants. In general, some Khmer-Chinese descendants tend to run more profitable businesses, which is something we’ve seen historically in Cambodia and other countries. Khmer descendants on the other hand tend to spend more carelessly, sometimes going into more debt than what they can earn. If a Khmer descend can make $100, then some of them may spend $150. With the same amount of income, the Khmer-Chinese descendants might only spend $20. 

Samnang: You do know a lot about this topic…

Sothie: Don’t cut me off! Let me tell you more. I have heard from many of the elderly people saying that, in the past, China faced many issues. Because of that, those Chinese people could not withstand the struggle. They migrated from China to Cambodia (as well as many other countries) by boats with only a minimal amount of fermented crabs and eggs to sustain them. Due to this kind of history, the descendants of Khmer-Chinese and Chinese usually practice the mindset of conserving their wealth very carefully, better than some pure Khmer descendants. 

Samnang: How about nowadays? Do you think some Khmer descendants still spend their wealth carelessly that like? 

Sothie: Well, if you look closely, some pure Khmer descendants started to be a lot more mindful about their wealth. They started saving and limit unnecessary leisure activities. They begin to borrow loans from the banks to invest in housing and other essential materials etc. Samnang, honestly, a noticeable shift has been observed among them. 

Samnang: Okay. How about the Khmer-Chinese or Chinese descendants who are still living in Cambodia. Do they continue to mind their wealth or do they start to overspend? 

Sothie: Based on my observation, their mindfulness toward maintaining their wealth remains fairly unchanged. Furthermore, some descendants of Chinese bloodlines have begun to invest which helps to expand their already existing wealth. On the other side of the story, the pure Khmer descendants just started to avoid excessive spending and be more careful about the resources that they have. Even though this is the case that some people love to mention, there is no clear cut between all of them. Some Khmer descendants are also very smart and productive in terms of running businesses. Allow me to clarify my words again. What I have told you is just my own opinion as well as the information that has been passed down through generation. It is, of course, not a scientific research or something similar. 

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