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Cambodian PM demands US certify son's degree

Hun Manet says he will resign if allegations by outlawed opposition leader Sam Rainsy are proved to be true

Cambodian PM demands US certify son's degree

Hun Manet, who has served as commander of the Royal Cambodian Army since 2018, became the first Cambodian to graduate from West Point in 1999. (Photo: AFP)

Published: January 05, 2022 09:05 AM GMT

Updated: January 05, 2022 09:13 AM GMT

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has “demanded” that Washington certify his eldest son’s university degree after outlawed opposition leader Sam Rainsy alleged his qualification from the prestigious United States Military Academy, also known as West Point, was “second class.”

Hun Manet, who is being widely touted to succeed his father as prime minister, became the first Cambodian to graduate from West Point in 1999 and completed his master’s degree at New York University and then earned a PhD from the University of Bristol in England.

“Only the US has the answer. I inform the US ambassador to Cambodia to consider whether the US shall protect the reputation of West Point or the statement of Sam Rainsy,” Hun Sen said, according to a dispatch from the government-friendly Fresh News service.

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“Can the US clarify that West Point has a second-class degree?” he asked.

Sam Rainsy, leader of the court-dissolved Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), claimed on social media that Hun Sen and his family were prone to boasting about “their fake degrees and second-class diplomas” which he claimed were of a lower standard.

He said foreign students with political connections could acquire a university degree with lower academic standards than required by their American peers.

I would normally never wish to bet in public in such a way, but sometimes I have no other choice but to defend my honor and dignity by responding to a baseless attack

That prompted a wager from Hun Manet, a lieutenant-general. He said he would resign his military posts if Sam Rainsy could support his claims that his degree was not the equal of others.

“I would normally never wish to bet in public in such a way, but sometimes I have no other choice but to defend my honor and dignity by responding to a baseless attack,” said Hun Manet, who has served as commander of the Royal Cambodian Army since 2018.

“I will resign from all of my positions in the armed forces and be a civilian forever,” he said, adding that should Sam Rainsy lose the proposed bet then he should retire from politics forever.

“If Rainsy dares not to take the bet or cannot show evidence to defend what he claims, he will have shown that he is a politician with old age and high education only on paper, but without responsibility and without being a role model for the younger generation,” Hun Manet said.

The CNRP was dissolved after its leaders refused to accept the results of elections in 2013 and alleged widespread rigging. Violent, sometimes deadly, street demonstrations followed, prompting a government crackdown and the arrests of opposition politicians and their supporters.

Sam Rainsy fled the country to avoid legal action and Hun Sen’s long-ruling Cambodian People’s Party then returned Cambodia to a one-party state after winning all 125 seats in the National Assembly that were contested at the 2018 poll.

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