20 May 2011
YB Wong Hon Wai, our Guest of Honor representing the Chief Minister of Penang,
YB Chow Kon Yeow,
The Organising Chairman Sr Mark Saw,
The Chairman of the Northern Branch Sr Chuang Kuang Han,
Yang Di Pertua MPSP Puan Maimunah Binti Mohd Sharif,
Pengarah Pejabat Tanah & Galian, Dato Arifin,
Datuk Datuk, Datin Datin,
Committee members of the Northern Branch of RISM,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am glad to be here again for your annual dinner. Last year Iattended the annual dinner together with our previous President, Sr Dr Maimun.
Firstly I would like to congratulate all Surveyors in Malaysia on their 50th Anniversary. It is indeed a milestone year for us, and it has been made more auspicious by the decision of His Royal Highness, The Sultan of Selangor, to grant us Royal Status. With effect from 28 March this year we are The Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia. Congratulations.
In the Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia the term of the President is only a year and during that year a President can accomplish only so much. Although many other professional bodies in Malaysia have changed to a two year term, we cannot follow that because the RISM is in fact made up of four Divisions and we need to be fair to all the Divisions in the Institution and have to rotate the Presidency on a yearly basis. This brings me to the point I am trying to arrive at and that is, that given this rotational necessity, the Institution needs to overcome weaknesses caused in the system by it, by developing and maintaining an extraordinarily strong and highly supportive permanent Secretariat.
When I took office last year that was one of my priorities and it was given expression by Council's decision to employ a CEO on a contract basis and with strict KPI's including one which specifies the undertaking of more activities to generate additional needed income for the Institution. But as i near the end of my term I realise that we need to continue this effort to strengthen the Secretariat even further to meet the increasing needs of the institution. The appointed of a CEO has brought noticeable improvements but we must wait longer to see how that will transform the RISM to the desired level.
In Penang and in the other branches of the Institution the Committees are also finding that they need stronger Secretariats. The Northern Branch i.e. Penang, in fact does not have even a single permanent employee and it relies on volunteer Surveyors to run their programs. We must change this and ensure that the branches also progress in line with the progress being made at the headquarters. The current Chairman of the Northern Branch, Sr Chuang has lobbied hard for higher grants from headquarters to kickstart the process of setting up a strong secretariat. Council is supportive but has limited funds and at the last Council Meeting could only raise the annual grant by a small margin. Headquarters should do more and I am sure it will but while we are waiting I suggest that the incoming committee take a risk and use the limited funds available in the Northern Branch and get a full time person to run the affairs of the Northern Branch, with appropriate KPI's. That person could generate funds from activities that could be more than self-financing.
The second aim I set when I took office was to internationalise ISM. We are a robust surveying profession in Malaysia and we ought to play a stronger leadership role in the region and internationally. That would also be in line with the Government's aspirations. I am happy to say that in this aim we mustered the required high number of votes needed for constitutional change and managed to change the constitution last December to achieve our aim. With Registrar of Societies approval obtained for the change, we are now poised to invite and bring in new, non- Malaysian Surveyors into our fold as Associate members. This will hopefully lead to a bigger footprint for the Institution in this region and internationally, with all the attendant benefits.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the world is growing smaller and the centre of economic gravity is shifting to the east. We must seize the opportunities to expand and grow the surveying profession to serve our primary constituency, the Malaysian public better, and secondly the larger Asian community, as national boundaries dim and the processes of liberalisation in ASEAN and beyond take hold. There awaits many challenges for us in the next 50 years and we should all work together in a concerted manner to overcome the challenges and to thrive and flourish as a robust professional body.