Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bar Association presidency dispute resolved at last

Bar Association presidency dispute resolved at last

Bar Association presidency dispute resolved at last

The long internal dispute of the Cambodian Bar Association (CBA) has ended with Ky

Tech, who refused to relinquish power in 2004, being elected president.

Ly Tai Seng, acting secretary general of the CBA, said the election of a president

and 19 council members by the association's 300 lawyer-members went smoothly and

all applicants had accepted the results.

"I don't think there is any complaint with the result," Tai Seng said.

On October 16, the CBA organized a full-day meeting for the bar presidency and council

member elections, which were witnessed by Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana and Appeal

Court General Prosecutor Hangrot Raken.

Nine candidates stood for the presidency but five withdrew when it became clear they

did not have enough support. Four candidates went to the vote: Ky Tech, Suon Visal,

Puth Theavy and Sok Mathoeung. In the first round Tech received 168 votes, Visal

142, Theavy five and Mathoeung six.

The leading candidate did not win enough votes for the clear majority needed under

bar association rules, so there was a run-off second round of voting between the

two front-runners, Tech and Visal. Tech received 157 votes, clearly beating Visal's

143, and giving him the presidency until October 2008.

Suon Visal, who won the 2004 presidency election but was prevented from assuming

office, said he recognized the result of the latest election in principle, though

the arrangement and process of election were not fair for him.

"There is no justice for me at all," Visal told the Post on October 17.

"But even though it is unjust, I want to end the dispute. I'm very bored with

it."

Visal said he will not file a complaint against the election result as Tech did in

2004, because he had learned from past experience that he would not find justice

in the courts.

On October 16, 2004, the CBA held an election for a two-year presidential term. Tech

was the incumbent president and had four challengers. Visal won the election in a

runoff with Tech, but Tech and his followers refused to accept the result and ten

days later filed a complaint to the Court of Appeal. The court overturned the election

and reinstated Tech, beginning the two-year dispute.

Tech said he was not concerned about his rival's views on the election and promised

to reform the bar association administration and cooperate with donors to make the

bar affairs go smoothly.

"We will set up a web site so the national and international communities can

learn about our activities."

Justice Minister Vathana, who was invited to witness the election, said he did not

foresee any rejection of the results and hoped all lawyers would coexist in tolerance.

"I observed that the family of lawyers now are understanding one another,"

Vathana said. "The CBA has an important role to play in reforming and giving

balance to the judiciary system."

Seng Solady, planning section officer at the Japan International Cooperation Agency

(JICA), one of the main donors to the CBA, said the election took place successfully.

JICA, in cooperation with the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations, will start

preparing for a new project to support the Lawyers Training Center (LTC).

"JICA has been taking a neutral position concerning the election and did not

favor any specific candidates," Solady said. "We only hope that the election

will ensure the stability of the Bar Association, which is necessary for training

more and more capable lawyers at LTC and for preserving citizens' rights."

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