When the Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX) was inaugurated last July, it attracted media exposure that spread across the Kingdom. Naturally, this attracted the curiousity of eager university students interested in studying the national economy.
However, on February 12 this year, Royal University of Law and Economics (RULE) issued an official statement that banned their students from writing their graduation thesis on 14 different topics – four of which are related to the stock exchange.
These topics include regulation of the stock market, securities companies, the first initial public offering and media dissemination of the national stock exchange.
The ban was undoubtedly controversial and came under fire from human rights groups and intellectuals.
Chreung Hay, Head of the Research Office at RULE, announced on the Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s radio that RULE would maintain the ban. He cited the reason for the ban as necessary policy to prevent students from easily copying old material and writing on topics that are too broad.
According to Mak Nang, Deputy Director of the Department of Higher Education, under the Ministry of Education, the ban on thesis topics is not Ministry policy. Instead, it is the policy of RULE.
However, he said, this tightened grip on topics for research seems to also ban students’ rights.
And even more, Mak Nang explained, it prevents students from understanding the Kingdom’s emerging stock market.
Staff at Phnom Penh Securities (PPS), one of seven licensed securities firms, told LIFT that the CSX is open to both Cambodians and foreigners with an investor ID.
Therefore, there’s nothing that stops youth from investing in the market.
And if students at RULE can invest in the market, then should they, logically, be able to publish research on the market?
Ung Ou, an official at the Securities Exchange and Commission of Cambodia (SECC), wrote about the advantages and disadvantages of an emerging stock market in a country with a weak legal system.
While advantages are manifold, Ung Ou highlights the dangers that come with the CSX.
According to Ung Ou, the CSX can cause detriment to Cambodia through three primary means: opportunity grabbing in buying and selling, counterfeit buying and selling and the dissemination of fake information.
Should students at RULE be able to follow this research by publishing more of their own? Is the CSX more than just an economic staple, but also an academic field – ripe for the taking?
For this week’s Constructive Cambodian, an unnamed official from the SECC advised that youth need to possess a wide range of knowledge and skill related to finance in order to successfully invest in the CSX. The official added that young Cambodians should not be easily deceived by scams or become addicted to investing carelessly.
Regarding the ban on thesis topics at RULE, I advise that the university subdivides the prohibited topics into more specific ones – and students can thus avoid the problems raised by the Research Office.
With the emergence of our national stock market, our premier economics university needs to produce cutting-edge research as a vital accompaniment to its development.