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A doctorate for international friendship


Sharlene King
13 May 2019

Long-running international connections with Cambodia have been celebrated through a Southern Cross University PhD candidate.

Panha Heng received his Doctorate at the May 11 graduation ceremony in Sydney, attended by his whole family who travelled from Cambodia for the occasion.

“Choosing Southern Cross was one of the best decision I have ever made in my life,” Mr Heng reflected on the eve of receiving formal acknowledgement of his work.

“Funnily enough I had initially intended to go to another university (for undergraduate studies) but I met a professor from Southern Cross University and he convinced me to come to Lismore.

“I love Lismore so much.

“I didn’t expect to get this sort of hospitality. It has helped me professionally and academically.”

Mr Peng completed his Bachelor of Business with Honours in 2014 before undertaking his PhD that focused on stock market manipulation.

“I designed an algorithm to identify fraud and to protect the integrity and fairness of the stock market. Integrity is the heart of my PhD thesis,” he said.

Mr Heng’s father, You Heng, is Deputy Director of Department Ministry of Economy and Finance in Cambodia, and a long-term supporter of Southern Cross with connections to former Chancellor John Dowd AO QC.

Mr Dowd, who was at the graduation ceremony with wife Jill, tells the story of meeting a young Panha at the Southern Cross campus one holiday period when all other students had left.

He was immediately made to feel welcome and the two shared dinner.

Panha’s father was a deputy director general with responsibility for the northern half of Cambodia, including the border areas with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Over the years, he has been a reliable and committed friend of the University, opening doors for executives to meet with senior officials and university rectors.