Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bar Association presidential hopefuls share their priorities

Bar Association presidential hopefuls share their priorities

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Suon Visal speaks to the press following ex-opposition leader Kem Sokha's appeal in October last year. Hong menea

Bar Association presidential hopefuls share their priorities

Come October 16, lawyers across the country are set to elect the new president of the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC).

In total, 1,355 of them will exercise their voting rights to choose between Soun Visal and Sam Sokong who are vying for the two-year term presidency at the 12th session of the BAKC – one of the most prominent judicial bodies in the Kingdom.

Speaking to The Post on October 4, Visal and Sokong shared a similar aspiration. They both want to reform the body and eliminate corruption.

The current BAKC president, Sam Visal, 53, is hopeful of running for the second and last of a maximum two-term limit.

With 19 years experience as a lawyer, Visal encouraged others of his ilk to follow moral codes to reduce injustice and corruption. He said the BAKC can assist the courts with training, monitoring and punishing any lawyer who is indifferent to legal procedures.

“In developed countries, in order to eliminate such indifference, lawyers must be barred from meeting a judge secretly. Negotiations under the table cannot happen. This will be included in my proposed reform which will reduce such matters,” he said.

During the next term, Visal said, he would discuss with the Justice Ministry to eliminate of the middlemen to make it easier for lawyers to defend clients.

When asked about corruption within the association, Visal denied "a rumour" claiming prospective lawyers have to fork out $20,000 in order to be allowed to practice by the bar.

He claimed the rumour has existed since the inception of the association.

“Anyone encountering this problem must report it, so the bar association can find a solution. We do not support corruption."

“We monitor all problems. In the past, this kind of issue is hard to monitor because the victims did not cooperate with us. Whenever we met with them directly, they never talked to us,” he said.

Visal said he is seeking support from Prime Minister Hun Sen who is also a member of the BAKC.

According to him, Hun Sen asked the association to train more lawyers in the provinces.

‘Democratic methods’

“I require everybody’s support. I cannot share my strategies, but they are legal and will not cause any problems. The prime minister has asked us to train lawyers in the rural areas and help the poor. We will work to accomplish his request,” he said.

Sokong, 41, who has 15 years of experience as a lawyer, was a member of the court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party defence team and supported activists since the 2013 election.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Sam Sokong speaks to reporters outside the Supreme court in July. Pha lina

He, too, is hoping for a corruption-free environment in the Kingdom’s legal system.

“We will punish any member who commits bribery or work as brokers to commit acts of corruption. We have procedures, and we will report to the relevant institutions to take measures against the corrupt lawyers,” he said.

“When I am elected, I will lead the bar association with transparency and accountability. We will investigate any wrongdoings whilst adhering to the association's legal charter. The BAKC will guarantee a fair and transparent legal process,” he said.

Furthermore, Sokong said he is not campaigning as a demagogue.

“I don’t want to campaign based on vote buying, political parties or intimidation."

"I campaign using democratic methods by issuing important guidance so that all members can make informed decisions,” he said.

As part of his campaign, he promised to reward lawyers who work on pro-bono cases – helping the poor and the powerless – with funding that he would request from the government and external stakeholders.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the