The Advocates Association of Sarawak, Kuching branch held its AGM on Saturday 11 October 2008. I stood against the incumbent Khairil Azmi for the chairmanship. It was my first try for any elected position in the Association. I only managed to campaign for 2 days before the election as the committee called a snap election during the week when I had 2 appeals set down for hearing in Putrajaya so I was outstation for 2 days in the week. Coincidentally, my opposing counsel in the appeals is the incumbent president of the AAS who lobbied hard against me in the days before the election.
Despite the inherent advantages that incumbency carried, despite the fact that I had never stood before and the fact that I also had to campaign without any organisational support, I carried 43% of the votes cast at the AGM. The following is a letter I sent out to the members of the AAS in the week after the AGM:
Members of the Kuching Bar,
The Kuching Branch held its AGM on Saturday 11 October 2008. The Treasurer informed those present that the attendance was the highest in the history of the Kuching branch AGMs. He also said that the monies received by him [new members subscription, payment of arrears of subcription and pigeon hole] in the few days preceding the AGM was also a record.
As I said at the AGM, I am truly humbled by the support I got from members, some of whom I had not spoken to in a year who were willing to help canvass for votes, some who were willing to pay a few hundred ringgit in arrears in order to give me their votes.
As some of you may know, I only got word of the AGM last Monday. Tuesday and Wednesday, I was away in KL. I could only start calling around to seek support for my campaign in the 2 days preceding the AGM.
To those who supported my candidacy, it is a testament of your strong desire for change that we were able to secure 43% of the votes for the chairmanship contest despite only 2 days of campaigning.
Those like me who desire leadership change in our Association will be gratified to know that the AAS will now have a new President at the next Delegates Conference. As someone said to me, "The status quo remained unchanged for many years. If you did not decide to stand, things would never have changed." Now, I don't know if that is true or not. But there is now definitely change at the very top and that is what I have firmly believed all along that we should have.
It is my hope that the new President [whoever he may be] will be able to bring our Association to a level on par with the West Malaysian Bar.
I am now in the committee of the Kuching Branch. Though I am only a committee member, I am aware that I carry the weight of responsibility for 43% of the voters who supported my views. To all those who supported me [and those who didn't], my email is always open to you. If you have any problems in any matter that relates to your practice as a lawyer, feel free to contact me. You can be assured that it will be brought up to the committee. On the issue of the scale of fees imposed by banks on lawyers, our chairman Azmi had [as part of his election speech] promised that he would personally take the lead in going to the banks and the authorities to fight hard for a fair scale of fees. I trust he will deliver on his promise. To my supporters, I want to assure you all that the fact that I am on the branch committee will not deter me from speaking up if and when the need arises. With kind regards, George Lo.