What I loathe about doing business in Cambodia


Cambodia can be frustrating enough out doing every day stuff so when I go to work I expect a modicum or professionalism and mutual respect. Unfortunately, “culture” ( and by this I mean Khmer and otherwise ) dictates otherwise. Here are some of my pet peeves :

  1. Lateness or worse – no shows ; Many here seem to think it is perfectly acceptable to arrive 30+ mins late for a meeting, not show at all or send someone else in their place because “I so busy now”. Considering my office is out in the boonies and I have to make considerable effort to get to most meetings by leaving early, fighting traffic etc, this gives me the fucking shits. The first week I started in this job I drove way outside the city to meet with a major Telco representative. THEY asked US to come out to do a site survey. We arrived on time to meet Mr A and are met with blank stares from his underlings . “He not here”. So my Khmer Technician rang Mr A and Mr A says he is outside the city and can we wait one….yes one…..hour. In horror I hear my colleague start to say “yes we can wait” ( acquiescence is s typical Khmer trait ) when I tell him to tell Mr A in no uncertain terms we are not waiting. Twat. Then……yesterday……again……myself and a colleague drive into town to Cafe Lattesville BKK to meet with a well known hospitality group who again…..have asked us to do a site survey for some work they want done. We arrive at the allotted time and I call the Philipino to announce our arrival. He initially lies through his teeth and says he is busy and does not know anything about the meeting and when I push and remind him we spoke that very morning he eventually says ” oh yes I remember….1;30 meeting……sorry…..I eating my lunch now…we can meet tomorrow “. I hope you choke on your empinada. I then ring his European boss who says ” I can be there in 30 mins” and I say ” we have already been waiting 30 mins we are leaving”. He says we could have asked for anyone in the office to let us on site and I ask why the Filipino didn’t tell us that.  He indignantly says he did not know we were coming. I ask him why would he ? IN a meeting two days earlier, he asked me to arrange with the filipinoi!!! Some people treat contractors like slaves and this shits me to tears. I act like a pro – you should to.
  2. No response to emails : In my line of work I rely on a steady flow of both technical and business information to keep me informed and advised which in turn allows me to be…..a pro. So imagine how shitted off I get when day in day out I have to follow up once twice three times to get the ” oh…..I sooooooo busy” people to reply to emails on important issues so I can get back to customers, make financial decisions, report to management etc It gets to the stage sometimes where I feel like I am the stalker and am being unreasonable. I am not a manager anymore so I cannot use a whip. I have to cajole and smile and play a little game. One little dipshit here the other day said ” what you give me if I help you ? ” with a smirk on his face. I felt like saying ” I tell you what I’ll do for you……I WON’T run you off the road next time I see you on your Scoopy moto….”. Just reply to the emails within 48 hours OK ? I reply to yours…
  3. Customers that have no idea what goes on inside their own building and expect me to survey it all…..for free. I am currently working on two large prospective sales and the way it goes is usually like this; We have an initial client meeting with those in charge of delivering the project. At this stage they let us know the purpose of the project, the Scope of Work, the deadlines, any challenges etc. We then ask for a second visit to do a site survey of all equipment and we also expect to be given as-built drawings, floor plans, technical specs of equipment etc. Imagine my surprise when you talk to these people and they have none of that and then ask ” can you send your techs out and do a complete survey and compile a report with all the information. They ask this with no guarantee we will then get the project. I suggest there may be a fee involved and they smirk and say ” maybe you can build it into your bid price “….WTF ? Sure….I will send my team out to compile all the information you SHOULD have, I will gladly give it to you gratis and you can then use it to submit your own pricing with the shady contracting company you run on the side. This week I went back out to the Telco in point 1 and they have a server room with 15 rows of server racks. Do you think they had any idea what was in the room ? Bizarre.
  4. Corruption : it never used to bother me as it never really used to show up *much* in previous jobs however now I am working with the big boys….it seems it is everywhere. Not internally with my company – externally. It seems like every single Khmer person in charge of making the final decisions about signing off on a contract have their own companies that also contract back to the company they work for. My pricing, my survey reports and all my confidential details for SURE end up in the wrong hands. When the “Procurement Specialist” ( read RORTING PRO ) starts asking me to jump through previously unmentioned hoops, backwards, I know they are stalling and something is afoot.
  5. Delays. Delays. Delays. ” I sooooooooo busy” ” can we do after holiday” “Can it wait…. it my sister wedding ( ps : YOU WANT TO COME !! ?? ) ” ” I feel sick today can it wait tomorrow”  ” It 12pm I must go to lunch NOW” ” It raining now..”  blah blah ad infinitum. Jesus H Christ. Seriously…..when I say that the Managing Director needs information in an hour or a client is waiting …..I NOT JOKING WITH YOU OK ! WHY YOU SAY LIKE DAT ?
  6. Not getting the right information first time. I am not technically educated although my knowledge of M&E has come a LONG way in the last 7 years. As a Development Manager I have to act as a go between my company and our clients. When the shit hits their fans I have to then get a very clear explanation from techs on why the shit flew, how we will wipe it up and what we will do to prevent it happening again. I have lost count of the number of times I have patiently asked techs ” Are you sure this is what happened ? Is this EVERYTHING that happened ? Are you sure ? Is there anything else I need to know ? Can I tell the client this is what happened 100% ?”……only to then find out the shit didn’t hit the fan , it hit some other part of the premises and it wasn’t due to mechanical failure…..our guys forgot to programme / install / tweak WHATEVER the fuck they were supposed to do. I am then left standing looking like a dickhead with my client whilst little techo numbnuts says ” oh i so busy….I sorry I wrong ! ” I mean……its not like i held a gun at their head and said i need an answer within seconds. Take your time….investigate……give me the cold hard facts. GOT IT ?

Coffee anyone ?

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2 Responses to What I loathe about doing business in Cambodia

  1. Catherine says:

    Same over here. Wish I could kick some ass sometimes. Best is when they intimidate or threaten me to force me to sign their corrupt shit. Last I was told : when I point a gun on your head then you can say I threaten you. And you know where I work… Needless to say I filed a report and the idiot was put on holidays for a week…

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