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US-Cambodians Feel Bite of Financial Crisis

Cambodians living in the US say they are starting to feel the US economic crisis. They are counting on the next US president to help.

Merrith Chhang, a retiree in Washington state, said commodities, food and entertainment were all getting more expensive.

“It affects my family a lot,” he said. “For example, I used to buy a package of serial that cost $3; now it costs $4. The price of chicken and other foods have also increased. It no only affects my family, but it also affects all the people in America.”

Merrith Chhang said he has reduced the number of times he visits his children in other states, thanks to the high price of gas. He has also stopped eating in restaurants.

“The reality is that I don’t spend so much on food, but I spend so much on medical care, such as going to the dentist,” he said. “Medical care in the US is extremely expensive. I am old, so I always check my health. I spend so much on medical. It’s about 50 percent of my spending.”

Larry Seng, another Washington state resident, who works at the aerospace and defense manufacturer Boeing, said had cut back on entertainment expenses with his family, which includes a son and a daughter.

“When I don’t have so much income, we can’t spend [money] on the things we want to,” he said. “When the economy is down like this, we don’t have so much to do, so we have to reduce our spending. It’s kind of hurting a lot.”

The economic crisis began when many Americans failed to pay back loans on homes that had lost much of their value, leaving many banks and other lending agencies holding the debt and leading to a string of bankruptcies. Financial panic spread to world markets, where there is now a shortage of money and credit, while demand from American consumers dropped.

Some companies have already begun cutting jobs, as Americans reduce their spending on products.

Rong Sourn, director of the Cambodian Association, in Philadelphia, Penn., said she hoped the government would provide more opportunities to small businesses, despite the crisis.

“The government should allow small businesses to be comfortable,” she said. “The government should make the economy grow by allowing small businesses to get some loans to make their business more sustainable.”

David Seng, who also lives in Philadelphia, blamed the Republicans for the decline of the economy.

“We have lived with the Republican regime for eight years already,” he said. “During the era of [president] Bill Clinton, we had a surplus, but now we don’t even have money and our economy is seriously falling down. The number of wars has also increased. So much money spent on war. I think the Republicans sing the same song over and over.”