Isles International Awards More Degrees to Gov’t Officials

National Assembly President Heng Samrin and 14 other government and parliamentary officials have been awarded doctoral and master’s degrees by Isles International University, a Malaysia-based organization with a history of making false claims about its accreditation credentials.

Mr Heng Samrin’s PhD—his seventh such degree—was honorary, while the other 14 officials wrote and defended theses to earn their degrees, according to CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap. The newly minted PhDs include Koam Kosal, Mr Heng Samrin’s deputy cabinet chief, and Pen Pannha, chairman of the National Assembly’s legislation committee.

“They studied by distance learning and they were required to write theses to finish their degrees,” said Mr Yeap. As for Mr Heng Samrin, his honorary doctorate in law was awarded because of “his leadership capacity and his activities in the National Assembly.”

“Lawmakers have better abilities [in law] than others,” Mr Yeap added.

Mr Heng Samrin was also recently named a “kattipritbandit,” or “glorious and upright person of genius,” by the Royal Academy of Cambodia.

Isles International University was formerly known as Irish International University, but changed its name after the Irish government repudiated it in 2006. As Irish International, the organization awarded Prime Minister Hun Sen a doctorate in 2006 and attempted to form an affiliation with a Cambodian university to award doctorates to students here.

Isles still claims on its website to be “registered” in both Ireland and the United Kingdom, and to be affiliated with Oxford and Cambridge Universities. But it does not appear on a list of recognized UK higher education institutions provided yesterday by the British Embassy. Ireland only has seven universities, none of which is Isles, according to the Irish Higher Education Authority.

Although Isles also boasts that is “under the jurisdiction of the Accreditation Board of the Ministry of Education in St Kitts & Nevis,” that country has posted an online warning about the university, saying it is not accredited there.

University representatives could not be reached for comment yesterday. However, IIU Executive President Hardeep Singh Sandhu said in an e-mail in 2009 that the university had not yet been accredited.

Mr Yeap, who was himself awarded a doctorate by Isles International University in 2009, defended the institution yesterday.

“People criticize because they are jealous, and secondly they do not understand clearly about this university. It was also recognized by the English educational system,” Mr Yeap said.

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