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IASA taps on govt muscle in Asia

By recruiting politicians as patrons for its chapters in the region, the International Association of Software Architects eyes more open doors.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

The International Association of Software Architects (IASA) is banking on political power to establish itself in the Asia-Pacific region.

Aaron Tan Dani, IASA's Asia-Pacific chairman, told ZDNet Asia in a phone interview Thursday that the association is the first of its kind to focus on building close links with governments in countries where it operates.

This approach, he added, is adopted only in Asia, as other regions such as Europe and the United States have a number of similar IT membership organizations and IASA may not play a big role.

Currently, IASA has seven official chapters in the Asia-Pacific--most of which have "ministerial endorsement", said Tan Dani. Over in Malaysia, the IASA patron is Deputy Finance Minister Kong Cho Ha, who is also the country's former deputy minister of science, technology and innovation.

In Singapore, where IASA was accorded a society status in January, it has a pro-tem patron in Chau Chee Chiang, CIO of the Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA). The DSTA implements and manages defense technology, infrastructure and research for the Ministry of Defence.

Tan Dani said being associated with the government has its advantages. "We're well-received by the industry…it's very easy to grow membership and we can position ourselves in a more strategic way," he pointed out.

Tan Dani added: "With the government [backing], if we don't abuse it we have many doors open to us."

Other than the "prestige" and opportunities, the potential power of legislation is also a big advantage.

According to Tan Dani, Malaysia's Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation Maximus Ongkili had noted in a media conference in April that should IASA be "ready to become a regulatory body for IT architects in Malaysia , he's willing to support it with a parliamentary act".

Tan Dani, however, acknowledged that it typically takes some time to win the support of the politicians. In Indonesia, for instance, it took about one-and-a-half years before IASA launched the local chapter with the endorsement of the Minister of Information and Communication Mohammad Nuh.

By end 2008, IASA expects to have set up around 10 chapters in the region, said Tan Dani. The body is in the midst of setting up a chapter in Brunei, and is planning to initiate one in the Philippines later this year.

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