The Cambodian Bar Association on Monday again delayed a disciplinary board’s questioning of Kong Sam Onn, the attorney of SRP lawmaker Mu Sochua, after the lawyer pointed out that one of the five people chosen to investigate him worked for the man who had accused him of unethical conduct.
Mr Sam Onn is representing Ms Sochua in her defamation suit filed last month against Prime Minister Hun Sen.
In response to that lawsuit, the prime minister filed his own suit against both Ms Sochua and her lawyer. The premier’s attorney, former Bar Association president Ky Tech, went one step further, asking that the lawyers’ association disbar Mr Sam Onn for supposed unethical practices due to his comments to the media on his case against the prime minister.
In response to Mr Ky Tech’s complaint, the association appointed five inspectors to investigate Mr Sam Onn’s professional conduct. The inspectors were set to question Mr Sam Onn on May 25, but that hearing was delayed after two inspectors failed to show up.
On Monday, a second attempt was made to question Mr Sam Onn, but it was again delayed after the lawyer complained that one of the inspectors, Hem Voun, works at Mr Ky Tech’s Cambodia Law Firm.
Mr Sam Onn said Monday evening that he filed his objection with bar President Chiv Songhak, demanding that Mr Voun be replaced.
“I have filed a motion against Hem Voun because he works for the Cambodia Law Firm. This is a conflict of interest and a neutrality issue,” Mr Sam Onn said by telephone. “It isn’t fair because he works for Mr Ky Tech.”
Attorney Puth Theavy, who is one of the five bar-assigned inspectors, confirmed that the questioning session has been delayed until Mr Songhak deals with the apparent conflict of interest—a potential problem he said the other inspectors had not noticed until Mr Sam Onn objected.
“We have decided to delay the questioning because Mr Sam Onn has objected to Hem Voun,” Mr Theavy said.
Mr Voun said Monday evening that he doesn’t intend to step down from the inspection panel unless told to do so by the bar’s president. He also maintained that being an employee of Mr Ky Tech would not affect his decision-making. “A lawyer is independent,” he added.
Mr Songhak declined to comment on the conflict of interest when reached by telephone.