Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Schools drawn into Manet degree row

Schools drawn into Manet degree row

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Hun Manet along with his letter of admission and diploma from West Point. HUN MANET VIA FACEBOOK

Schools drawn into Manet degree row

Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”.

Hun Sen said that only the US could determine whether his son Manet’s degree was not earned in full as former opposition leader Rainsy said, calling on both the US and the UK – the countries where Manet received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and his PhD, respectively – to weigh in on Rainsy’s claims.

“I think only the US can clarify this matter. I ask West Point, are you willing to sacrifice your credibility by ignoring this claim? I’m talking to the US and I know they can hear me speaking. Does the US want West Point to be discredited by the words of one man?

“Will the US have their say about this accusation that West Point gives out second-class degrees or honorary degrees to foreign students? Does the US want to protect a mischievous man or protect their own military academy? Speak, not to protect Hun Manet, but to protect the reputation of your schools,” Hun Sen said.

He made the remarks at an awards ceremony for Cambodian petanque player Ouk Sreymom who won a world gold medal at a competition in Santa Susana, Spain, in November last year.

Rainsy, former leader of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has made the accusation several times in the past, claiming that the degree awarded to Manet at West Point in 1999 was only given to the children of foreign leaders.

“They just let them pass without actually doing the work. The degrees given to high-ranking officials from other countries are just to maintain good diplomatic relations,” Rainsy said in a Radio Free Asia (RFA) interview on December 26.

Manet currently holds the rank of three-star or lieutenant general in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), where he serves as deputy commander-in-chief and commander of the army’s infantry.

Manet noted last week that he also graduated from New York University (NYU) where he received a master’s in economics and the University of Bristol in the UK where he obtained his PhD in the same field.

Hun Sen posed a rhetorical question, asking whether NYU and the University of Bristol also give out unearned degrees – a matter that Rainsy did not address in his recent radio interview and has remained silent on.

“Only the US and the UK can protect the reputations of their schools. They should speak up and confirm or deny these claims. If they think that making a clarification on this issue is a political attack on the individual who made these claims, that’s alright – but they will have to decide whether they will defend their educational institutions or a troublemaker,” he said.

Chad Roedemeier, spokesman for the US embassy in Phnom Penh, declined to comment on January 5, referring reporters to the universities in question.

The US Military Academy at West Point issued a press statement in 2019 in response to similar allegations made by Rainsy at the time.

The West Point press statement said Manet graduated with a bachelor of science in economics and that the school did not give out unearned or “second-class” degrees to anyone under any circumstances, nor does it have an easier admissions process for foreign students.

MOST VIEWED

  • Siem Reap drain canal now ‘mangrove’ promenade

    A more than half a kilometre long stretch of canal in Siem Reap has been covered and turned into a promenade to attract visitors, said Ly Rasmey, secretary of state at the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, on September 16. The new pedestrianised

  • Angkor wildlife, aquarium park still to open October

    The Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium complex about 30km southeast of Siem Reap town with initial total investment of more than $70 million is reportedly still on track for an end-October opening. The park is located on a 100ha plot along National Road 6 in Kbon village, Khchas

  • Final verdicts for Khmer Rouge leaders ‘vital’ for next generation

    Nearly a decade after the commencement of Case 002/02 against Khieu Samphan back in 2014, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) is now set to deliver its final verdict for the former Khmer Rouge head of state. The Supreme Court Chamber of the ECCC,

  • Typhoon Noru brings flash floods – 16 dead

    An official warned that that the 16th typhoon of the season, Noru, had brought heavy rains to areas the Mekong River and flooded thousands of homes in the provinces bordering Thailand. As of September 27, the death toll from the flooding had risen to 16. National Committee

  • Defence minister reaffirms Kingdom’s staunch support for One-China policy

    Minister of National Defence General Tea Banh has reaffirmed Cambodia’s unwavering support for the One-China policy. Tea Banh was speaking at the September 20 ceremonial handover of 117 vehicles and other military equipment donated by China’s defence ministry, held at Phnom Chumreay International Military Training

  • Deaths due to ‘lifestyle’ diseases rise in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Health has called on people to pay closer attention to their health to protect themselves from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) which it said have caused high rates of deaths in the country. Ministry secretary of state York Sambath made the call at a