Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Tycoon Boon Ma a doctor no more

Tycoon Boon Ma a doctor no more

Tycoon Boon Ma a doctor no more

BUSINESS tycoon Teng Boon Ma has had his honorary doctorate degree rescinded by the

Iowa Wesleyan College's board of trustees, according to an article published in The

Des Moines Register.

The degree was initially awarded by the college's president Robert Prins at the International

Industrial-Commercial Conference held here in Phnom Penh on Dec 20.

However, according to the article the trustees met Jan 9 to reconsider the award

after it bacame known that the US State Department had revoked Boon Ma's US visa

because of alleged drug trafficking connections, accusations that Boon Ma has consistently

denied.

In a three paragraph statement issued after the board meeting, trustee Chairman Byron

Johnson said the board regretted the awarding of the degree. The statement also noted

that it thought Boon Ma had taken action on behalf of the citizens of Cambodia that

were consistent with the honor.

"However, based upon State Department information that subsequently became available,

the Board felt it necessary to rescind the degree," the statement said.

Iowa Wesleyan has previously awarded honorary degrees to Second Prime Minister Hun

Sen and Cabinet Minister Sok An last October.

According to an article published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, former Iowa

Wesleyan board member Ted Sioeng was the individual responsible for linking up the

small US college with Cambodian officials and Boon Ma.

Sioeng, who was born in Indonesia but now carries a passport from Belize, has extensive

business interests in Asia and is in the process of setting up a cigarette factory

here in Cambodia, according to the Review.

He initially came to Cambodia in 1996, met Hun Sen and Sok An and convinced Iowa

Wesleyan's president Prins to bestow honorary degrees on them.

"I was very impressed with the work Hun Sen was doing in Cambodia," Sioeng

told the Review.

He also has worldwide rights to China's Red Pagoda Mountain cigarettes, which are

produced in Singapore and sold mainly in China.

Boon Ma also maintains a $5 million tobacco-machinery joint venture with the Guizhou

provincial government in China.

Sioeng is wanted for questioning by the US Senate Committee investigating fundraising

irregularities in the run-up to the 1996 US presidential elections.

Publicly available documents indicate that Sioeng, his family members and related

businesses donated some $250,000 to the Democratic Party. He reportedly fled the

US to avoid subpoenas after the "donorgate" scandal erupted over China's

alleged attempts to influence the '96 elections.

Sioeng was present at the degree awarding ceremony in December held at the Hotel

Inter-Continental and it was his organization that acted as a co-sponsor of the conference

along with the Phnom Penh Chamber of Commerce headed by Boon Ma.

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