CSD President Chea Vannath To Step Down

Chea Vannath, president of the Cen­ter for Social Development, an­nounced Thursday that she plans to leave the prominent so­cial policy research NGO at the end of March.

Her planned departure follows that of Lao Mong Hay, an acerbic so­cial and political commentator who until December had worked as a legal adviser to the NGO, Chea Vannath said.

“Any NGO needs a change and to get new blood to take over, and have new initiatives,” said Chea Van­nath, 62, adding that she has been president for 10 years. “Right now the CSD is strong. We have a strong board of directors which was set up almost a year ago, and CSD is financially stable and has secure funding, so it’s time for me to leave.”

Chea Vannath, a Cambodian-Amer­i­can, returned to Cambodia in 1992 and joined CSD after work­ing with Untac and the Asia Foun­dation.

Keat Sokun, chairman of CSD’s board of directors, said he will re­gret her departure, adding that des­pite Chea Vannath’s criticism of gov­ern­ment policy, she main­tained good relations with the authorities.

“The way she worked is more ef­ficient to get CSD’s messages out to everybody, and her policy is neutral,” he said. “She can talk with the gov­ernment and represent civil society.”

Pok Than, the current secretary of state at the Ministry of Education who founded the NGO in 1995 be­fore joining Funcinpec, also said he re­gretted Chea Vannath’s decision.

“Even though the CSD is doing sen­sitive work, I hope that the re­placement will pursue engagement with the government,” he said.

“CSD urges transparency. Our criticism is more constructive” than that of other groups that directly at­tack the government, he added.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said Chea Vannath should re­ceive an honorary award from the government for her work.

He added that he has registered a new NGO, Parliamentary Center of Cambodia, aimed at strengthening the National Assembly, which he said Lao Mong Hay is planning to join on his return to Cambodia from London in the coming months.





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