Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen takes aim at Michelle Obama

Hun Sen takes aim at Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama waves during her visit to Angkor Wat in Cambodia's Siem Reap province on Saturday. Photo by Ethan Harfenist.

Hun Sen takes aim at Michelle Obama

Editor's note: For the updated print version of this article, please click here.

Prime Minister Hun Sen took aim at Michelle Obama on Wednesday, accusing the United States first lady of making false promises while suggesting her visit last weekend was more about hopeful rhetoric rather than concrete implementations of improvements in the country’s education sector.

During a speech at the National Institute of Education, Hun Sen told the US Embassy and USAID to make good on their alleged scholarship promises and front some actual cash if they want to truly make an impact on education reform in Cambodia. The prime minister was referring to Obama’s visit to the country on Saturday, in which she met with 10 female students in Siem Reap to push the White House’s Let Girls Learn initiative.

"Her [Obama's] mission is very good, but I suggest the United States should help completely and not play like this,” he said. “It is just playing around -- it is not good. What if she chooses 300 students? It would be death. I don't have that money to give."

Hun Sen added that he was under the impression the US was going to foot the bill for these girls’ education, but said the Cambodian Ministry of Education was left to pay for them.

"I thought the United States would give scholarships to those students until they complete university, but that's not [the case],” Hun Sen said. “I had strongly hoped [that was the situation], but she just came here to choose people and then [left] it to the Ministry of Education.”

US Embassy spokesman Jay Raman denied on Wednesday that the Michelle Obama had made any pledges regarding scholarships, stressing that the Let Girls Learn initiative was primarily focused on breaking down barriers to education by promoting awareness of access inequalities.

Raman also stressed that “it’s not just about awareness, but also action, particularly through USAID programs that support girls’ education and at the community level through our Peace Corps volunteers and their local counterparts.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Stock photo agencies cash in on Khmer Rouge tragedy
    Stock-photo companies selling images from S-21 raises ethics concerns

    A woman with short-cropped hair stares directly into the camera, her head cocked slightly to the side. On her lap is a sleeping infant just barely in the frame. The woman was the wife of a Khmer Rouge officer who fell out of favour, and

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Prime Minister: Take back islands from inactive developers

    The government will “take back” land on roughly 30 islands from private companies that have not made progress on planned developments, Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a speech on Monday that also targeted land-grabbing villagers and idle provincial governors. Speaking at the inauguration of the

  • Land on capital’s riverfront is opened up for investment

    The government has signed off on a proposal to designate more than 9 hectares of land along Phnom Penh’s riverfront as state-private land, opening it up for private investment or long-term leasing. The 9.25-hectare stretch of riverfront from the capital’s Night Market to the