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FIABCI is expected to see its membership from the Asia Pacific region grow following the inaugural FIABCI Asia Pacific Regional Secretariat Summit held in Kuala Lumpur on the 22nd and 23rd July.

This anticipated growth is part of the global membership drive spearheaded by World President, Dato' Alan Tong Kok Mau who also hosted and chaired the two-day summit which was attended by almost 40 delegates from 10 countries comprising, Korea, Japan, Philippines, Cambodia, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, United States and Russia.

Among these delegates was World President-Elect Mr. Owen Gwyn and FIABCI Board members Mr. John Pinson who is the president of the Membership Committee and FIABCI-USA president and Mr. Jim Miller who is the president of the Strategic Planning Committee. The summit laid the groundwork for the formalisation and operations of the Asia Pacific Regional Secretariat which will play an instrumental role in his membership drive for this part of the world.

The Board of FIABCI International had during the recent World Congress in June given the go-ahead for the formation of the Asia Pacific Regional Secretariat to serve the eight member countries of Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, India, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, said Dato' Alan Tong. The presidents of these countries including Cambodia who elected to be under the regional administration during the summit will sit on the Board of the Asia Pacific Regional Secretariat of which Dato' Alan Tong is the chairman. Also on the Board is the Secretariat's secretary-general, Mr. Kumar Tharmalingam. Delegates agreed at the summit that the day-to-day operations of the Secretariat will be left to the executive council whose members will be from Kuala Lumpur with the exception of Mr. Wong Ah Long, FIABCI-Singapore president where it (the Secretariat) is based, said the World President.

The summit also deliberated on the discounted unitary fee of 50 euros for members under the Asia Pacific Regional Secretariat. This reduced unitary fee will, instead of being remitted to Paris for the operations of the Secretariat there, be retained for the use of the Kuala Lumpur-based Asia Pacific Regional Secretariat. Dato' Alan Tong said: With the unitary fee at 50 euros, membership in the Asia Pacific region can take off since it is now more affordable to members, many of whom are coming from third world countries.

The reduction in unitary fees received the unanimous support of the national chapters in attendance of which each pledged to embark on a membership drive to recruit more members in their respective countries. The membership pledges received from all the countries present totaled 805 over the next 12 months. This is a significant number when you consider the fact that the region currently has a membership of 193.

In short term, we expect the membership to approximately double from 193 to about 400 members by end of 2005, said Mr. Kumar Tharmalingam. The summit also discussed chapter performance and activities, of which those who were present received some ideas on how to make their respective chapters and membership more dynamic through a presentation by Mr. John Pinson, the president of the Membership Committee.

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