The son a high-ranking official at the Supreme Court has been promoted to lead the Royal Academy for Judicial Professions – a move that at least one observer said reflected a pervasive nepotism that has undermined public leadership in the Kingdom.
According to the most recent edition of the Royal Gazette, signed by King Norodom Sihamoni on Friday, Keng Somarith, son of Supreme Court Deputy President Chiv Keng, was named director of the academy responsible for training judges. The position is equivalent to the government rank of undersecretary of state, and the promotion was requested by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Somarith could not be reached, but Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said Somarith was a former Kandal province judge who was transferred to the ministry about a year ago.
He said Somarith’s promotion had nothing to do with his father.
“We should not look at this issue [his family background],” he said. “The most important [thing is to] look at his capability, qualifications and achievements of his work rather than where he comes from and whom he is connected with . . . [You] should not make a judgment through his kin.”
But San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, was not convinced, saying such promotions have “become normal in Cambodian society”, despite concerns over conflicts of interest and nepotism. additional reporting by yesenia amaro