Sunethra Jayaratne Nugawela details her experience of the 24th ASA Congress held in Papua New Guinea
The Association of Secretaries & Administrative Professionals in Asia Pacific (ASA) held its 24th Congress at the Gateway Hotel Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, with over 300 national and international delegates, under the theme of Administrative Dynamics – The WOW factor.
What is the Association of Secretaries & Administrative Professionals in Asia Pacific?
ASA is comprised of secretarial and administrative professionals associations from Philippine, Thailand, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Republic of Taiwan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Brunei, Bangladesh, and Papua New Guinea.
ASA was founded in 1974 by Mrs Verginia P Elbinias of the Philippines Association of Secretaries who is now serving as the Founding President. Ms Lilian Coloma and Ms Alvina Chung are the officials from Philippines and Brunei who perform as the ASA Secretariat and ASA Treasury.
ASA Congress is held bi-annually in a member country by rotation. Accordingly the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Association of Administrative Professionals hosted the 24th ASA Congress in Papua New Guinea. Mrs Mea Isaac was the ASA President and the association presented a wow congress in the land of unexpected, for four nights, five days.
The ASA President, who recently secured a parliamentary seat of Motu Koitabu, expressed her views that with the ever changing technological era, and the diverse cultures and values in the Asia Pacific region it is totally amazing and awesome to bring together like minded colleagues and professionals to network, being innovative, setting standards of exemplary administrative excellence to reach greater heights.
The programme commenced with a welcome reception to ASA Council Presidents, Honorary Presidents and Cocktails and the Council Presidents meeting on the following day. Inauguration was a colourful, eye catching event with participants in their national costumes from the region. The speakers, Governor West New Britain Hon Sasindran Mughuwel, Beatrice Geua Mahuru, Linda Kapani, Linda Tule and Hycinth Arya spoke on Effective Use of IT in administration, Leadership & Management, What next, Women in micro banking, cultural barriers and bridging the gap.
An active participation on the sport day despite age differences was notable and the city tour to the parliament house and to Aquatic center was a part of the programme. The funds raised by the ASA Bazar by selling items from participated countries was donated to the Hohola Cheire Home. The highest income was generated by the Women Secretaries Association of Thailand in this process.
Another unique feature was the ASA Project Award which was won by India. The award criteria is based on the professional development and humanity services rendered by member country. ASA congress came to a conclusion with a gala dinner and traditional performance from respective countries as well as from the host country. The famous bamboo dance and colourful dances kept the crowd entertained. The event concluded by singing the ASA song by everyone. India claimed the highest delegation of 44 and Sri Lanka was the second highest with 18 participants.
I had the privilege of joining Ms Sukanya Nimanahamenda Life President and Mrs Napaporn Apiwong – Cordinator of Women Secretaries Association of Thailand in their mission of empowering women project by donating sewing machines from Bangkok Soroptimis Club to the center of women in need.
The center extended a warm welcome with a delicious traditional lunch. The post tour was a great opportunity to mingle with coastal community and other villagers. The visits to villages named Hanuabada, Beta, Boers, Sogeri Plateau, Kokeda Track, Craft Market and stay at Konebada resort was a great experience. The tour was co-ordinated by Ms Sarah Garap who is a community development officer in PNG.
During the post stay, I had the good fortune of meeting Hony Consul for Sri Lanka Prof Nava Bandara, who is a renowned senior lecturer in accountancy in the University of Papua New Guniea. He has over sixteen long years service in this country. A pride to Sri Lanka, as he is well known figure in PNG, who keeps the Sri Lankan flag flying high in another land thorough his professionalism, education and humanitarian acts.
My impressions of Papua New Guinea
PNG claims over eight million culturally diverse, customary communities who use over 800 dialects. Those whom we met were very friendly and caring. It is known to have most of the people still living in strong traditional social groups based on farming as well as on the coast. Their social lives combine traditional religion with modern practices, including primary education. In the evenings, the children had time to play in groups. Tuition classes were not at all visible. They were contented with the school education. The significance in PNG is chewing and living on sales of betel nuts. The kids follow their families. It is believed that there are many uncontacted groups of people, undiscovered species of plants and animals in the interior. The trees were full of flowers and fruits, in fact soil rich land was ideal for nature lovers. PNG culture seems less stress in comparison to the developed nations. They were happy with the earnings and live for the day.
The 25th ASA congress will be hosted by the Sri Lanka Association of Secretaries & Administrative Professionals in Sri Lanka during 2020 and 26th Congress will be hosted by the Women Secretaries Association of Thailand in Bangkok in 2022.