Monthly Archive: April 2009


ASAE Study Mission 2009 – Lessons from Singapore


ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership, in partnership with MCI – a leading international association management and events company – just concluded an association executive study mission to Singapore, Dubai & Abu Dhabi this month.  Since 2000, emerging market countries have led the world in economic growth. This trends will continue as IMF, World Bank, and World Economic Forum forecasts show that growth projections for 2009 will continue to come from regions like the Middle East and Asia.

To share some of the highlights executives enjoyed from this year’s event following on the successes from India and China tours in previous years, we post findings shared by some of the tour participants.

Our day started at the Economic Development Board of Singapore on the 28th floor of their HQ at Raffles City Tower. Since they have the whole floor to themselves, they were able to give us a 360 city view from their impressive office.

Here is an interesting view of Singapore in 2015.

EDB is the lead government agency responsible for planning and executing strategies to enhance Singapore’s position as a global business centre and grow the Singapore economy. Therefore a critical stop for any association seeking to build an international strategy for SE Asia.

Their presentation featured some fascinating information and trends:

  • ASEAN region has a combined GDP growth of 7% over the past 25 years (significantly ahead of OECD countries during that same period)
  • China will have a huge aging population problem in the next 30 years due to its one-child policy
  • 22% of Singapore’s population is expat non-resident… approx 1 million of the 4.6 million
  • EDB was setup in the 60′s, after independence, to provide jobs and attract foreign investments due to the large unemployment at that time
  • Singapore is today a knowledge and innovation society with two main pillars of its economy: manufacturing and services
  • Singapore’s current 2.2% unemployment is very low, but it’s still a twice its previous rate of 1.2 %
  • Singapore is home to 7,000 MNCs, 60% of which have HQ activities in the city and 76 international associations such as WWF, IATA, APEC … see
  • Connectivity and openness is a method of survival for the Singapore economy
  • Singapore Business Federation represents 160,000 Singapore based organizations, out of which 99.2% are SMEs (

Our next visit was to the SingHealth (Singapore Health Services), which gave us an overview of Singapore’s largest healthcare group and outlined the structure and financing of the country’s healthcare system. Singapore has 80% public hospitals and 20% private.Best of all, they took us on a tour of some of their facilities. Their Health Assessment Clinic was unlike any hospital experience I can recall. It seemed like we walked into an airline first class lounge.

They took us through a hospital ward where they showed the array of leading edge equipment available to the staff to care for its patients. For example, each bed has it’s own computer and internet access. So if you’re not feeling great, you call the nurse via Skype and start a webcam conversation. They use a special body monitor that measures your heart-beat, body temperature, blood pressure and other parameters and reports them automatically to the nurse station which reduces the need to disturb the patient.

Best of all … they had COWS and BMW’s in the room. That is COW (Computer On Wheels) and BMW (patient Backside Monitoring Workstation) acronyms for mobile computer stations. The nurse told us that they changed the name from COW to BMW after the patients got terrified of hearing ‘wheel the COW in/out of the room’!!!

Before lunch we visited Biopolis – a world-class biomedical sciences research and development hub in Asia.

Located next to the National University of Singapore, National University Hospital and the Singapore Science Park, this modern complex promotes collaboration of researchers and organizations.

One such organization at Biopolis is the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases which concentrates on important research on malaria, dengue and TB drugs. They seek to develop and provide these drugs at cost to the least developed countries that most need them and who cant afford them. A leading researcher shared that their goal is to produce a malaria medication that costs $1 per full-treatment!

After lunch, we went to visit the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is Singapore’s national land use planning authority. URA prepares long term strategic plans, as well as detailed local area plans, for physical development, and then co-ordinates and guides efforts to bring these plans to reality. Prudent land use planning has enabled Singapore to enjoy strong economic growth and social cohesion, and ensures that sufficient land is safeguarded to support continued economic progress and future development.’

They had a fantastic large scale model of all of Singapore, and another more detailed one of the CBD area with all the new proposed buildings for the Marina Bay.

It’s very impressive to see where Singapore came in only 40 years and the grandiose plans they have for the next 40. Their goal is to create a cosmopolitan city of distinction. Vibrant and Sustainable.