Funcipec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay has been awarded a doctorate in conflict resolution after seven years of online courses from St Clements University, based in Switzerland.
Mr Bun Chhay, who said yesterday he does not have a high school diploma, said the major reason he was awarded the degree was because of his role in Cambodian politics and his submitted course work, which an assistant translated into English.
“I received this degree after I have resolved the political disputes in Cambodia,” he said.
“Besides studying online, the university sent researchers to look at my work in making peace in Cambodia and to form the government in 1998 when there were a lot of political obstacles,” he said.
“I sent all of the documents that had to do with the Khmer Rouge and how I worked to end it and make a win-win solution with Prime Minister Hun Sen,” he added.
Mr Bun Chhay said he visited the university’s campus in the Swiss city of Lausanne, for a graduation ceremony in March.
E-mails sent to St Clements University were not answered yesterday. Websites for the university did not list telephone contact numbers.
St Clements also has campuses on the Polynesian island of Niue and in Somalia, according to a graduation program provided by Mr Bun Chhay.
Over a decade ago, the university was one of several denounced by Australian Labor Party Senator Kim Carr, who said they had escaped the oversight of education regulators in Australia, where St Clements was operating at the time, according to Australian Senate transcripts. In 2001, Mr Carr questioned an expert in higher education who claimed that St Clements also operated under the name “Malt Whisky Wholesalers.”
(Additional reporting by Christi Hang)