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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - So Naro looks set to lose KJA executive seat

So Naro looks set to lose KJA executive seat

SO NARO, the journalist at the center of the Prince Sirivudh affair, may lose his position as Secretary-General of the Khmer Journalists Association in January.

Meanwhile, KJA president Pin Samkhon - if re-elected at a KJA congress on Jan 5 - will serve an extended term of two years, and will be given the right to appoint the Secretary-General himself.

A Dec 23 meeting of KJA officials, in advance of the congress, voted to amend its internal statutes to extend the term of its elected presidents from one to two years.

It also decided that, instead of KJA secretary-generals being elected, they would now be appointed by the president.

Samkhon said the current one-year mandate of the president was too short, and a longer term was needed to allow programs to be put in place properly.

Samkhon said he expected Naro to be replaced as Secretary-General.

Naro might not be eligible anyway, as the internal statutes had also been changed to say that the Secretary-General must not be a newspaper publisher but someone "who can devote full time to the association."

Samkhon said that amendments to the statutes had been democratic and were made after three meetings of KJA officials.

He said the Secretary-General role was a technical one which should not involve policy-making but the implementation of programs.

"The reorganization is not for me," Samkhon said. "Nobody will let me do everything at whim and it's still not certain that I'll be re-elected."

Naro, for his part, said he would be happy to stay as Secretary-General if permitted.

"If he [Samkhon] can lend his confidence in me for my performance in the past, I'll continue [as Secretary-General]."

If not, Naro said he would still stay within the KJA.

"I'll support the KJA until its last day because I am a co-founder of it. Although I'll hold no position, I'll remain a member."

"But it's not certain yet if he [Samkhon] will be able to go on for another term," he said.

Naro was the author of the Angkor Thmei newspaper article about an alleged plot to kill Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, which contributed to the arrest and eventual exile of Prince Norodom Sirivudh.

The KJA became heavily involved in the controversy.

Naro and the KJA's advertising director, Cheam Phary, have been under police protection as witnesses against Sirivudh, Samkhon himself was questioned by police about his knowledge of the plot, and a foreign adviser to the KJA, American Mike Fowler, was threatened with a lawsuit by an aide to Hun Sen for allegedly trying to twist Naro's testimony.

"It was quite a disturbing event for the KJA, its image and those who are in it," Samkhon said last week, adding that many members were unhappy with Naro's article.

The Jan 5 congress, the third held by the KJA, follows a tough year for the association which has struggled for its survival since a breakaway group of members formed the League of Cambodian Journalists (LCJ) in June.

The KJA now has 20 news organization members, compared to 43 before the LCJ was set up.

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