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337 Former Students Sign Open Letter Demanding Apology from Sam Rainsy

PHNOM PENH: Another 337 former Cambodian students who studied abroad issued an open letter demanding that oppositional leader, Sam Rainsy, publicly apologize for insulting Hun Manet's foreign degree. Previously, a group of Cambodian PhD students had also sent an open letter to Sam Rainsy stating that they considered his public statement about Cambodian students receiving only ‘second-class’ or honorary degrees were detrimental to their honor and dignity.

The open letter signed by 337 former students’ states, "We, the alumni of the doctoral, master's and higher education programs who have graduated abroad, express our deepest disappointment and regret to the old politician, someone who has downplayed the quality of the degree we received abroad as a second-class degree or an honorary degree."

The former students write that they consider the public statements of Sam Rainsy as highly damaging to their honor and dignity and a refusal to recognize the efforts of all students who travel far away to get an education abroad. They note that many struggle to leave their motherland and study abroad, having to overcome many obstacles in order to be successful in their studies and bring knowledge and skills back to Cambodia to participate in building and developing the country upon their return.

The letter also states that Sam Rainsy’s words can act to discourage many other Cambodian students who are preparing to study abroad in the future. The students add that Rainsy’s statement degrades the assessment of the quality of education one can receive abroad, as well as degrades the education systems of the foreign countries where many Cambodian students have gone to study and successfully graduated from.

For these reasons, the students request that Sam Rainsy make a public apology and corrections to his statement in order to set an example for the next generation of politicians. The former students also expressed their full support for the message Hun Manet posted on his Facebook page on 28 December, which asked Sam Rainsy to have the courage to come forward and retract his statement while facing the Cambodian students who study both in the country and abroad.

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