Ly Chantola was re-elected in a landslide as president of the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC), winning 2,016 out of 2,045 votes cast at its 27th annual general assembly held in Phnom Penh on October 16.

Chantola told reporters that during his tenure, the BAKC had actively participated in the development of the nation’s legal system and undertaken a first-ever extension of legal services and representation, including consultation and trial defence, to the Kingdom’s poorest citizens.

“Our lawyers have helped defend poor people in both civil and criminal cases. In just the month of September this year, our lawyers took on more than 5,000 cases for poor people,” he noted.

Chantola said BAKC has been continuously promoting the legal profession, disseminating the laws to the public through various means such as its lawyer dialogue programme and forums.

He added that BAKC had focused more on strengthening the capacity of lawyers and had held workshops and training sessions for them while strengthening its relations with national and international institutions at home and abroad related to the administration of justice and the legal profession.

“Although I was the only candidate to run for the BAKC presidency in this mandate, the first time in its history, it could still be considered a democratic process because we held a vote in accordance with our procedures,” he noted.

Lawyer Saim Naphanny said that under Chantola, BAKC made significant progress as it had on principle promoted the justice sector and defended cases for the poor for free while providing legal consultations and counselling to people at the municipal and provincial courts.

“Under his leadership, we created legal delegates to the courts in provinces and also helped with the formation of the courts of appeal,” she said.

Naphanny also credited Chantola with creating new workshops to train and promote the legal profession.

“BAKC cares for all of its members and we believe in our slogan “Together for excellence and the prestige of the legal profession,” she added.

Another lawyer, Yon Soveasna, said that so far under Chantola’s leadership, the practice of the legal profession had improved, with the entrance examination to the bar having been tightened.

“For that reason, for this mandate, I continued to vote for him as BAKC president,” he said.

Minister of Justice Koeut Rith said while presiding over the BAKC general assembly on October 16 that the vote was another new milestone for the bar association even though no other candidates chose to run in the election.

He added that the fact that no lawyers vied with Chantola to be president at this time clearly demonstrated that all members of the bar association were fully satisfied and had faith in the knowledge, ability and especially the leadership of Chantola.

“It reflects the highest level of unity and solidarity that all lawyers and leaders of the legal profession firmly believe that Chantola will continue to lead our bar association well,” he said.