Bar Association Chooses President After 2 Years

After a bitter two-year stalemate that brought the Cambodia Bar Association to its knees, the country’s lawyers voted Monday to choose their president, and chose incumbent bar president Ky Tech.

Exactly two years to the day that Ky Tech lost the last presidential election to challenger Suon Visal, he emerged the clear winner after two rounds of voting by more than 300 attorneys at a Phnom Penh hotel.

Suon Visal won the majority of votes when he stood against Ky Tech in the 2004 presidential election, but Ky Tech launched a battle of legal attrition to keep his position. In the process, he paralyzed the bar association and became the court-recognized president.

Ky Tech said that his victory vindicated his legal action after his 2004 election loss, while Suon Visal, who had stood again in the latest election, said he was somewhat relieved as acrimony would have erupted again within the bar if he had won.

“The majority of the lawyers were afraid that they could not work if I had won,” Suon Visal said by telephone.

“If they had elected me again, there would be disputes again and lawsuits and they could not work,” he said.

“I accept the vote count. I am bored with the dispute of these two years.”

In the first round of voting, by lawyers present and by proxy for those unable to attend, Ky Tech won 168 votes, Suon Visal won 142, while two other candidates won 11 votes and one ballot was spoiled.

In the second round, which was confined to lawyers who were physically present, Ky Tech won 157 votes and Suon Visal 143 votes. One ballot was spoiled.

“This [result] reflected the truth today,” Ky Tech said by telephone.

“We will strengthen the legal profession and expand activities into the provinces to help the poor,” he added.

Puth Theavy, who also stood as one of two other presidential candidates, said he was happy he lost.

“It was transparent and clear,” he said of Ky Tech’s victory.

“Even though I lost, I am happy…I didn’t want to be the president.”

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