Hun Sen Receives Three Int’l Honorary Titles

Leading government officials congratulated Prime Minister Hun Sen Wednesday on receiving an honorary professorship as well as two new titles from an ob­scure organization in Sicily.

In broad, full-color advertisements filling the pages of the largest Khmer-language newspapers, officials including Tourism Minister Thong Khon, Labor Min­ister Vong Soth and Planning Min­ister Chhay Than congratulated the premier on becoming “Life Sen­a­tor” at the International Parlia­ment for Safety and Peace, which also on Monday named him “Am­bas­sador at Large to the World Presidency.”

A separate award bestowed Monday by Costa Rica’s Univer­sidad Empresarial, a university in the capital San Jose, also makes Hun Sen “Honorable Professor of Diplomatic and International Relations.”

The announcements added to other honorary distinctions awar­ded to the premier, including a 1996 honoris causa doctorate from Iowa Wesleyan College in the US and a 2004 honorary doctorate from the controversial Irish Inter­national University.

According to its Web site, the IPSP, now based in Palermo, Sicily, was created in 1975 in Cyprus by Greek Orthodox clergymen and government officials “for the defense of all the towns of the world” and “the norm of the right public and international and private laws.”

IPSP’s current vice president is Venezuelan President Hugo Cha­vez, and others it has honored in­clude former Soviet premier Mik­hail Gorbachev, former South African President Nelson Man­dela and the late Congolese dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Universidad Empresarial’s Web site says it offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in areas such as business administration, biology and cognitive science.

SRP leader Sam Rainsy said the public could mistakenly be­lieve the premier’s growing assortment of far-flung tributes represents genuine academic achievements.

“Those who boast these titles, I think they look down on the people because they think that the people are not able to assess the real value of these titles, diplomas, honors and prizes, etc.” he said.

Government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kan­harith said no one is being misled.

“Maybe Sam Rainsy doesn’t understand the word ‘honorary,’” Khieu Kanharith said.

“It’s something to create awareness and friendship among south-south countries. It’s not a Nobel,” he added.

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