Constitutional Council Dean Sworn In at 93

Ninety-three-year-old Con­stitutional Council dean Chau Sen Cocsal Chhum was sworn in Saturday as a member of the country’s su­preme legislative appeals body, one month after he failed to show at the original ceremony.

Also taking the oath in the Royal Palace Throne Room was Cambodian Bar Association President Say Bory, appointed to the council late last month after the resignation of Pung Peng Cheng, one of King Norodom Sihanouk’s original three nominees for the post.

Still absent, however, was the final royal nominee Son Sann, who has de­clared that “in all conscience” he cannot be be sworn on­to the controversial council, whose form­ation he has branded illegal.

For many, it was their first glimpse of Chau Sen Cocsal Chhum, who reportedly left the country last month rather than convene the council.

But the frail-looking nonagenarian was vague when asked to explain his volte-face, hinting only that “circumstances” had changed.

Chau Sen Cocsal Chhum said last week he had asked to be sworn in­to the council when he learned that Say Bory had accepted the vacant position.  Say Bory, who has been one of the council’s most persistent public critics, vowed on his appointment to use his position to clean up the council’s image.

Speaking at his home the day after the ceremony, Say Bory, one of the King’s personal law­yers, said he could not turn down an ap­point­ment by the mon­arch, and he be­lieves the King has a mission for him, al­beit an unspoken one.

“I think the King wants to unblock the boycott and let the Constitutional Coun­cil function,” he said.

Say Bory said his appointment had been “a complete surprise.”

In fact, he learned of the ap­pointment only when a copy of King Sihanouk’s pro­clam­ation was delivered to his house.

The King is said to have been frustrated by the past failure of the council to form as a result of boycotts by his own appointees.

Second Prime Min­ister Hun Sen flew to Siem Reap for a meeting with the King earlier this month at which the matter of the deadlocked council was discussed.

Shortly after that, Pung Peng Cheng announced he would convene the council in Chau Sen Cocsal Chhum’s ab­sence, before retiring from the post.

The King subsequently ap­pointed Say Bory as a replacement, despite his numerous public criticisms about the Council’s formation and functioning.

“[The King] has seen my critiques so he understands my ideas,” Say Bory said. “I can be very useful in the Constitutional Council to try to lead the members to respect the law,” he said.

“I think maybe they can be­come independent when they are completely members of the Con­stitutional Council. For example, Mr Chan Sok, former president of the Supreme Court, has a lot of experience judicially.”



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