PHNOM PENH: On November 8, freelance journalist David Whitehouse published an open letter to Prime Minister Hun Manet, detailing his arduous attempt to get a hold of the PM’s doctoral thesis from his time as an Economics major at the UK’s Bristol University. The journalist said that the thesis was kept “under lock and key” and that multiple attempts through the university and the Prime Minister’s own press office failed to produce the document.
Prime Minister Hun Manet has faced scrutiny about his education in the past, starting with his time at West Point Military Academy, which opposition leader Sam Rainsy said was only made possible because of his father’s position as the Cambodian prime minister. Hun Manet was the first Cambodian to graduate from the prestigious academy in 1999 and said that his acceptance to the school was based on merit, not on connections.
The Prime Minister went on to graduate from New York University with a masters in Economics in 2001, followed by a doctorate from Bristol University in 2009.
Prime Minister Hun Manet responded to the open letter on the same day, providing a free download to his thesis and questioning the journalist’s intentions. He said he did not recall ever asking Bristol University to keep his thesis confidential and claimed that he had given it out to a number of people in the past upon request. He did not mention Mr. Whitehouse’s request to his press office for copies of the thesis.
He finished by linking both his masters and doctoral theses for the public to read. His master’s thesis was on the subject of land rights, while his doctorate focused on the small and medium enterprise sector.