But lawyers say incoming president Chiv Song Hak must work hard to uphold the standards of the legal profession
Photo by: Vandy Rattana
Candidates for the Bar Association presidency await the verdict of their peers.
THE Cambodian Bar Association
elected a new president Thursday amid demands that the organisation
work to stamp out corruption in Cambodia's judiciary.
Chiv Song Hak overwhelmingly won a vote by some 467 other lawyers after
several other candidates abruptly withdrew from the race.
Lawyer Nou Tepirith, one of the main candidates for president,
surprised his supporters by appearing on stage and endorsing Chiv Song
"I announce now that I will withdraw myself as a candidate in this
election," he said to the assembled lawyers. "I do not want to compete
with my colleague Chiv Song Hak. I see his policy in leading the bar is
like mine, so I can step away without any sorrow."
Three other candidates pulled out prior to the election, leaving just three to run for the presidency.
Runner-up Puth Theavy said he did not withdraw his candidacy because
"to run as president is a democratic right" honoured by the Bar
"The bar will not be under an executive power or any other
institution," he said, adding that he received demands to withdraw his
candidacy, but resisted them.
"I want to serve my profession. I want democracy," he said.
Outgoing president Ky Tech said Chiv Song Hak would have to be tolerant
and would "face many challenges" during his time in office, expressing
his hope that the new bar boss would work hard to "prevent any lawyers
from violating their profession".
Sok Sam Oeun, president of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said that
the withdrawal of the other candidates was their own concern.
"Some may not hope to win so they step away," he said. But he said that
while the bar has met many challenges in each term, there was still
room for improvement.
Sok Sam Oeun said that although there was no evidence that some lawyers
bribed judges to win court cases, he urged the bar to stop such
behaviour if it is found to exist.
"If there is a case like this, the bar should create a rule to punish those responsible," he said.
"The Bar Association should think of introducing such rules."
Cambodia's judiciary is frequently targeted as one of the Kingdom's
most corrupt institutions, with cash for favourable settlements a
common feature of most court cases.
Observers have also complained about the qualifications of many judges.