The scandal-mired Cambodian Human Rights Action Coalition (CHRAC) yesterday announced the appointment of a new secretary-general, with the new face saying he hopes to reform the NGO. Prom Sophal – formerly of the East-West Management Institute – said his first order of business as CHRAC’s head would be reforming internal processes in an attempt to woo back donors, many of whom pulled funding this year.
“I’ll try to convince the donors, because CHRAC . . . was very active before they had the problems,” Sophal said.
The problems include concerns among civil society, first brought to light by the Post in June, that Sophal’s predecessor Suon Bunsak had endorsed what many viewed as a deeply flawed compensation process in a large-scale land dispute.
Bunsak announced his resignation in early September after the revelation of text messages in which he demanded a bribe to approve a consultant’s contract. In the days after, it emerged that little action had been taken by CHRAC’s steering committee to investigate the allegations, which the then-steering committee head – Adhoc’s In Kea – ascribed to Adhoc’s lack of time and resources. In October, Adhoc handed leadership of the committee to the People’s Centre for Development and Peace.
Sophal said yesterday that he could not comment as to whether Bunsak would be rehired at a later date in a new capacity.