Two Ministers Awarded Honorary Doctorates

Defense Minister Tea Banh and National Assembly-Senate Rela­tions Minister Men Sam An re­ceived honorary doctorates in political science from Chamroeun Univer­sity of Poly-Technology at a ceremony presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Monday.

Chea Chamroeun, rector for the university and an educational adviser to the government, said by telephone that the two officials had been awarded the degrees because of their extensive service to society.

“Tea Banh and Men Sam An have done a great deal of excellent work in peace building and social work,” Chea Chamroeun said.

The two officials were considered for the honorary doctorates after being recommended by their respective ministries, he added.

A panel of 15 Cambodian doctorate holders and eight foreign doctors of philosophy from Russia and Thailand reviewed the ministers’ qualifications, he added.

And a doctorate might soon be in store for National Assembly President and Honorary CPP President Heng Samrin, who has also been put forward for a PhD, Chea Chamroeun said.

Tea Banh said by telephone that he was pleased to see his efforts acknowledged.

“I feel…a bit happy that people recognize my work and contribution to society. It is a truth that people recognize,” he said.

Men Sam An could not be reached for comment.

Chea Vannath, former president of the Center for Social Develop­ment, said that older politicians like receiving degrees because they are seen as ways to exert themselves over their younger, but often better educated, subordinates.

And educational institutions often like to confer honorary degrees on politicians in the hopes of reaping some gains from the gesture, she said.

“Sometimes they do it because they truly admire somebody, but sometimes it is for their own benefit—especially when they do it for politicians,” she said.

Images of politicians receiving honorary degrees often give the public a false impression of the level of education obtained by officials, said Kek Galabru, president of local rights group Licadho.

“Many Cambodians don’t know the difference between the honorary diploma and one you earn by studying,” she added.


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