[Editor’s note: This month, VOA Khmer broadcast a series of stories looking at bribery charges from within the elite Royal Academy for Judicial Professions. Four current students said they expected to pay bribes of between $20,000 and $150,000 to sit as judges in the national court system. VOA Khmer also reported that the sibling of a prospective student wrote Phnom Penh Municipal Court to retrieve $35,000 in bribes paid to a student who promised to help the prospect enter the academy. The government and the academy have strongly denied the charges and held a press conference in which four students of the academy also refuted the charges. VOA Khmer contacted these students, all from the now-graduated Class Three, by telephone after the press conference for additional comment. Below are excerpts of the interviews.]
VOA Khmer:My name is Khemara, from VOA. I would like to clarify some charges that some students took money, and bribe some officials, for them to pass (examination) as student judges. Was there any investigation into this matter in the school after the press conference?
Chea Meth: About this matter, I don’t know. I finished the press conference.
VOA Khmer:From your class…
Chea Meth:From my class?
VOA Khmer: From your class, has there been any investigation in the school about the charges?
Chea Meth: For this issue, I don’t know. I finished my studies in April.
VOA Khmer: The distribution of the positions, like you would go to a place, to what province, what place, have they clarified about this, or were there any results yet, in your class?
Chea Meth: About the distribution of the work places, there have not been any results yet.
VOA Khmer: It looks like it is later than usual.
Chea Meth: Later than usual, I see this time, like an examination for court clerks. After the examination for court clerks, there was a long holiday, one week.
VOA Khmer: As has been clarified at the press conference, [students] passed with their own capability, without any money to bribe any official.
Chea Meth: For me, this is true. I have not spent money to bribe any excellencies; it is my own capability.
VOA Khmer: Have you heard of any accusation where the later classes have got in touch with the [students] from the previous classes? [Students] who went to meet some officials and bribed them? Have you heard about this story involving this issue, or have you helped someone?
Chea Meth: About this issue, I don’t know, and I did not get in touch with anybody.
VOA Khmer:I have heard there was a case. I have heard that, in Class Three, there was someone who took someone’s money, $35,000, in the school, and he finished the school. For this issue, [I have heard] there was no measure taken by the court, and that all the students agreed that this student should continue his or her studies, is it true?
Chea Meth: This issue is a personal issue for the student. About this issue, I don’t know.
VOA Khmer: The students let him continue his studies, and he did not quit school. He was not expelled from school.
Chea Meth: I have seen anything at all happen.
VOA Khmer: There was nothing contrary to internal regulations, in the school. According to what you know, if such a case happened, about cheating, and there was a complaint case submitted to the court, he took someone’s money for a liaison.
Chea Meth: I don’t know.
VOA Khmer: The school internal regulations did not state about this?
Chea Meth: I don’t know about school internal regulations.
VOA Khmer: Can you clarify that the Class Three students agreed to plead the teacher or the school board to let him continue his studies—Long Sitha?
(Telephone line was abruptly disconnected.)
[Editor’s note: Conversation ends. To listen to the full interview, click here]
VOA Khmer: My name is Khemara, from VOA. I would like to ask you about some students being accused of bribing officials so they can get into school, and ask your own opinions. Did this really happen, in the past examinations, have you heard about such cases?
Hok Pov: I have not heard about them. My answers are like the ones I gave at the press conference.
VOA Khmer: You are in Class Three. This means that the examination might be over, and that there are distributions of positions up to now.
Hok Pov: Not yet. The committee is looking at this matter. We have a committee that looks into the matter.
VOA Khmer: In the past, there were distributions of positions. Were these being conducted according to the students’ capability, their grade points, whatever, according to your past knowledge?
Hok Pov: According to grade points, the level.
VOA Khmer: There were charges that the grade points have never been revealed for many years now, so how can we believe about those grade points?
Hok Pov: I don’t know about other people.I believe in the school that works according to grade points from the students’ examinations.
VOA Khmer: Were the students who failed disappointed and broken-hearted? Was there any violence in the school, or demonstrations?
Hok Pov: There was no violence, reaction, or demonstration. There are two things in an examination: you pass or you fail.Normally, those who pass are happy, because they do it because they are capable of it, and those who fail are unhappy.
VOA Khmer: I would like for you to clarify the news about briberies; there are many charges involving students, from previous classes, who looked for a way for backing them up, for support, or for help, to bribe for them. Have you ever been asked to do a favor, or have you denied [a proposition]; what do you think about this matter?
Hok Pov: I have never heard about this matter. I don’t have a back [to lean on], a connection; there is no big shot in my family.
VOA Khmer: You clarify that the students did not have violence, or protest against making someone pass or fail [an exam], then they passed because they are educated. This issue can be solved or should there be any problem?
Hok Pov: There has never been any issue. In my school, there has never been any reaction. Everyone respects the rules, the internal regulations of the school.
VOA Khmer: This year, did they indicate who will go where yet?
Hok Pov: We don’t know yet.
VOA Khmer: Did you choose the judge position or the prosecutor position?
Hok Pov: They draw those judge or prosecutor positions. The lotteries were put in a barrel. They were drawn. Some had the judge and others had prosecutor positions.
VOA Khmer: Can you clarify that you are a Class Three student, because I am not sure.
Hok Pov: I am in Class Three.
VOA Khmer: Those who participated in the press conference are all Class Three students?
Hok Pov: Yes, all of them.
VOA Khmer: I heard about the case of one student, from among Class Three students. This student took someone’s money, and asked someone for a favor. There was a complaint case submitted to the court.All the students in that class asked the teacher to let him stay in the class and finish it. Is it true?
Hok Pov: I don’t know. I just study, and don’t know there were some issues. I have not heard about this case.
VOA Khmer: Class Three has no issue?
Hok Pov: I have not heard about it, I don’t know about it.
VOA Khmer: I would like to know the reason for you to be a judge, to study to become a judge, about your initial idea.
Hok Pov: You ask me this, and it is a personal matter. Previously, I was a court clerk. When there was an examination for a judge, I submitted my application [to study] to be one. When you ask me the reason why I want to be a judge, it is a personal matter, and I cannot answer it.
VOA Khmer: Thankyou. I want to ask many people for clarification.
Hok Pov: I listen to VOA news. I follow the news because they are neutral. When I heard only one side of the story defaming my school, and the story was broadcast, my side interpreted it, and it was not broadcast, this made the news not neutral. There was only one side of the story. It is good that you ask.
[Editor’s note: Conversation ends. To hear the full interview, click here.]
VOA Khmer: I received news about a press conference, and I have not participated to the end. I would like to ask you about past issues, involving charges against corruption, and the distribution of positions for student judges. Did the school conduct any investigations about this up to now?
Yet Molin: I don’t know anything about this issue. I don’t want to answer either, because I have participated in the press conference with the newspapers. I also participated the day of the conference.
VOA Khmer: School ends: How about the distribution of positions, who goes where, have they done that yet?
Yet Molin: I don’t have any information about this at all up to now. I cannot answer that.
VOA Khmer: There was a student, in Class Three, who received money from someone, and there was a complaint filed at the court. All the students in the class agreed to plead with the teacher to allow him to continue his studies. I don’t know whether or not the story is true.
Yet Molin: I don’t know about this story. I don’t know how or where they got the story from. But for me, I don’t know about this story.
VOA Khmer: So no one raised the issue in the classroom, and no one pleaded with the teacher? You don’t know?
Yet Molin: I don’t know.
VOA Khmer: This means, the distribution of positions, according to the students’ capability, ma’am, there was no one? I ask you because in the past, there were charges against previous classes that those students led others to bribe officials, to be taken to get to know those officials, so that the later classes get to know them, so they know what [department] they should bribe. I would like to get some clarifications from the students’ side, that during the time of study, was there any proposition, did anyone ask for a favor? Have you heard anything about this?
Yet Molin: I have never heard or known about this story. I went to school, and I just studied. Whatever the story that was being passed around, I don’t know. I have talked about it at the press conference. Whatever you ask me, you intend to broadcast?
VOA Khmer: I want to interpret the story and get clarification. Because in the past, there were some charges levied against a number of students. [I do this] so that those students who are now studying in school, [they don’t] have any opinions, or whatever. I heard some officials clarify that you are an excellent student at this school. Did you study some lessons [hard and well], and how did you come to this point. Can you impart your experiences to other people, some later class students?
Yet Molin: For me, I studied, and I prepared myself for the examinations. I studied hard myself. That is all. I don’t know about any experiences, about what we study, we must study what the teachers taught [us].
[Editor's note: Conversation ends. To listen to the full interview, click here.]
VOA Khmer: I would like to ask you something about Class Three. After the news conference, the day before you participated in it, up to now, has there been any distribution of positions at the school for student judges?
Kim Heng: No, there has not been. Right now, I am busy with some friends.
[Editor’s note: Conversation ends. To listen to the full interview, click here.]