Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bar president challenges Constitutional Counselors



Bar president challenges Constitutional Counselors

Bar president challenges Constitutional Counselors

CAMBODIA'S top lawyer is calling on the National Assembly to review the academic

credentials of its appointees to the Constitutional Council and has called the appointment

of three other appointees to the council "illegal".

Say Bory, head of the Cambodian Bar Association, says Assembly President Chea Sim

should look at the qualifications of the Assembly's three appointees, and "if

mistakes have been made, it is not shameful or disgraceful, but we must agree together

to correct the mistakes".

"This is a serious matter that we cannot ignore," he wrote in a June 8

letter to Chea Sim. "To protect the prestige and honor of the Constitutional

Council in national and international eyes, it must be seen as reliable and functional."

The Post saw supporting documents for all three Assembly appointees. The file on

Yang Sem, 55, includes mention of a bachelor of arts in economics from California

State University dated 1997. However, his biography states he studied at the school

between 1963 and 1968.

Contacted by the Post, Yang Sem did not explain the 29-year gap between completion

of his studies in California and the awarding of his degree.

He did say, however, that he had obtained an economics degree because he knew he

needed it to sit on the council.

"The degrees required to be a member of the Constitutional Council are diplomatic,

legal and economic, and if I do not have an economic degree, how can I qualified?"

he asked.

Son Chhay, a parliamentarian loyal to the Sam Rainsy Party, also asserted that the

1997 diploma shows Yang Sem does not have the necessary 15 years professional experience

to sit on the council.

The biography of Binh Chhin states that he satisfies the necessary conditions required

by the Constitutional Council law, but there was little specific proof that he had

graduated from the institutions witnesses said he had attended.

Binh Chhin refused to answer questions about his credentials, saying they need not

be shown to the public. "The law only stipulates that appointees need show their

certificates to the Assembly's permanent committee. If anyone wants to know, they

should go ask the National Assembly."

Former Undersecretary of State for Commerce Top Sam, who claims to have a degree

in economics, and whose file appears to have similar documentation shortcomings,

left the June 15 inaugural council session before he could be questioned about his

resume.

One independent observer said that while the other two appointee's credentials were

dubious, Top Sam is widely believed to have a degree in commerce.

"There are questions," acknowledged Prak Sok, a former CPP member on the

Constitutional Council who was appointed by the Supreme Council of Magistracy. He

said he could not vouch for other members of the council and suggested that further

investigations be made into their background.

"You should also ask the National Assembly. I am only a member. [But] I think

my own qualifications are sufficient as a graduate of the Royal School of Administration,

vice president of the Supreme Court, and an inspector of finance."

Say Bory - who was a National Assembly candidate for one of the Constitutional Council

slots, but who was unable to secure any CPP signatures for his candidacy - called

on Chea Sim to offer proof that the Assembly's appointees have their diplomas.

The allegations are the latest to hit the beleaguered council, which has also faced

opposition accusations of irregularities in the appointment of the three members

nominated by the Supreme Council of Magistracy.

In a separate June 16 note, Bory effectively said all decisions taken by the judicial

oversight body, the Supreme Council of Magistracy, are illegal, including its own

appointments.

"All decisions taken by the Supreme Council of Magistracy during the two sessions

led by Samdech Chea Sim were illegal, including the nomination of the three Constitutional

Council members," he wrote.

Chea Sim, the King's representative to head the magistracy council, is also a National

Assembly member, which Bory considers to be a clear violation of Article 79 of the

Constitution.

He interprets the law to mean that Assembly membership is incompatible with involvement

in any other governmental institution except the Cabinet of the Royal Government.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and