Prime Minister Hun Sen has formed a commission headed by his son Hun Manet to distribute school scholarships offered by private higher education institutions to poor students, officials said Tuesday.
Hun Manet, 28, will act as head of the Samdech Akkar Moha Senapadei Dekchor Scholarship Commission for Poor Students with Hun Sen’s advisor Sean Borat as his deputy, according to a notice signed by the prime minister on Nov 2 and printed in the Royal Gazette this week.
Among the commission’s duties listed in the notice are “appealing to various higher education institutions in the country and abroad to find scholarships” and “controlling and providing the scholarships to poor students that various higher education institutions offer to [Hun Sen].”
Hun Sen’s Deputy Cabinet Chief Nget Borey said Tuesday that the scholarships, which used to be handled solely by the cabinet, would go through the commission first. Nget Borey said he didn’t know how many scholarships had been provided in the past, referring further questions to Sean Borat, who could not be contacted for comment.
Mak Nang, deputy director of the Education Ministry’s Higher Education Department, said the new commission is not under the ministry.
Private institutions have always given scholarships to the prime minister who later distributed them to poor students, Mak Nang said. She added that the new commission would announce the scholarships once they were provided, and that students could then apply to take an examination to receive a scholarship.
SRP lawmaker Son Chhay said he doubted Hun Manet’s appointment to the commission would improve the distribution of such educational scholarships, which are currently given to those that are close to the ruling party or who pay bribes to officials.
The commission, he added, should be under the Ministry of Education, and the means by which scholarships are awarded should be transparent and accountable.
(Additional reporting by Fergal Quinn)