Asian association leaders sign historic charter for advancement

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Raini Hamdi, reporting from ASAE Great Ideas! Asia-Pacific Conference, Hong Kong, March 25, 2015

THE first bricks in building an umbrella body of national societies of association executives in Asia-Pacific have been laid, signifying a breakthrough in efforts to advance the sector and a huge boost to the MICE industry in the region.

The charter was signed yesterday on the side lines of the American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) inaugural Asia-Pacific conference in Hong Kong, by heads of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE), the Korean Society of Association Executives (KSAE), the Associations Forum Australia and the Australasian Society of Association Executives – the only four national societies of association executives currently in the region. ASAE and association leaders from Europe, India and Singapore were also at the meeting.

The move is historic, as its aim is to eventually form an Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organisations and then a global federation, which could in turn see the materialisation of other big dreams as a world congress of association executives.

More urgently, however, it represents a platform where Asia-Pacific association leaders and executives can exchange knowledge and know-how to build efficient and sustainable associations.

The charter was initiated by Octavio Peralta, secretary-general of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific based in the Philippines, who spearheaded the formation of the PCAAE in November 2013.

Aside from the job being unrecognised as a profession in the region, another huge issue facing Asian associations relates to proper governance and management.

John Peacock, general manager of Associations Forum which has been providing consultancy to Asian associations, said associations in Asia need to seek more professional advice on issues such as governance, incorporation, constitution, management, strategic planning and the like.

In India, 99 per cent of associations do not have a CEO, according to Ajay Kakar, who founded the BITEIN Dental Portal which now has a multi-tier membership fee structure, and who is the president-elect of the International Academy of Periodontology. Kakar said he was talking to ASAE to create a chapter in India.

Association leaders in Malaysia and Singapore also told TTG Asia e-Daily that they wished they had such a society.

Peralta hoped the Hong Kong charter would spawn the birth of more such societies, which would advance the cause for the Asia-Pacific federation.

Greta Kotler, chief global development officer of ASAE, said the leaders could now connect online to further the cause and meet face-to-face a year from now at the second ASAE Great Ideas! Asia-Pacific Conference in Hong Kong next year.