CSD Deems Newly Formed Board of Directors ‘Illegitimate’

The Center for Social Deve­lopment’s board of directors said Thursday that a meeting scheduled for Friday of a new, substitute board of directors at the CSD office is illegitimate.

The latest announcement follows Tuesday’s press release by the CSD board—which consists of president Vi Houi and board members Chea Vannath and Peung Yok Hiep—that it had dismissed the CSD’s well-known Executive Director Theary Seng.

“What they are doing is not legitimate,” Vi Houi said by telephone.

“We don’t recognize them,” Vi Houi said of the new 11-member board, some of whom were handpicked by Theary Seng.

“She went out and formed 11 board members by herself…. Staff cannot go out and set a new board while they have a board that’s still working,” he added.

According to the CSD Web site, the 11-member board of directors was appointed in May.

Vi Houi said the current board’s two-year term expired in November 2007, but the CSD constitution allows for board members to extend their terms by an additional two years, which they did.

Choosing a new board is an attempt to oust the current CSD board, Vi Houi added.

Theary Seng could not be contacted by telephone and did not respond to text messages for comment. Asked about her removal Tuesday, Theary Seng stated that she remained the CSD’s executive director.

CSD Executive Assistant Im Sophea declined to comment Thursday, saying simply that he did not know if there was a meeting of the new board scheduled for Friday.

However, Youth Council of Cam­bodia Coordinator Mao Pouthyroth, who is listed on the CSD Web site as one of the 11 new board members, confirmed that she and the new board will meet Friday, in the afternoon.

Mao Pouthyroth confirmed that Theary Seng had appointed her to the board, and that she fully supports the executive director remaining in the CSD position.

“Theary Seng is the right person for this position,” Mao Pouthyroth said. “This is not because she selected me.”

Haidy Ear Dupuy, World Vision advocacy and communications manager, who is also listed on CSD’s Web site as a new board member, said Thursday that she was uncertain of her status with CSD.

“We were nominated,” she said, adding that she was contacted by CSD staff regarding her appointment and that Friday’s meeting is to discuss the new board members’ status.

“They’re seeking our commitment,” she added.

Say Vathany, executive director for the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, said that despite being listed on the CSD Web site as a board member, she resigned last month because of the organization’s internal dispute.

CWCC “can no longer be part of her board,” she said. “Especially when there is some conflict there.”

CSD donors contacted Thursday distanced themselves from the dispute and the two competing boards of directors.

Oxfam America Deputy Director Mona Laczo said her organization has supported CSD, but it “is not our role to interfere with the current situation at CSD.”

A spokesperson for the British Embassy said the embassy respects the organization, but “we prefer not to make a public comment on their internal problems, which we hope will be resolved soon.”

US Embassy spokesman Jeff Daigle said the embassy was “neutral on the issue.”

“We urge both sides to sit down together and work out a resolution that will allow CSD to get back to the business it is known for: promoting democratic values and improving the quality of life of the Cam­bodian people.”

Correcting an earlier comment, Im Sophea on Wednesday stated that the organization’s “donors have not expressed their support nor recognized any side.”

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