The memorable South East Asia Regional Computer Confederation -- staged in Darwin from 7-10 July -- cemented the Society's credentials, not only within the Australian IT and political community, but also the entire South East Asian Region.
With around 600 people participating, including speakers, delegates, SEARCC regional attendees, vendor and government representatives involved in the Exhibition and those competing in the SEARCC International Software Competition, SEARCC'98 certainly fulfilled its potential as a valuable opportunity for the exchange of information and for developing relationships.
Over 200 people attended the Conference and associated activities from outside Australia, enabling significant interactions between key influencers and decision-makers from nearly 20 different countries.
One of the most notable aspects of the conference was the extremely high calibre of both speakers and delegates, with over 90 per cent of delegates classed as senior executives, ranging from CEOs and Managing Directors to CIOs, Directors, Vice-Presidents and Heads of Schools or Departments.
The ACS also gained substantial political mileage through our association and discussions with various ministers and government officials, while the stature of the event generated extensive interest and coverage from national and local media.
SEARCC'98 also provided the backdrop for my election by the SEARCC Executive Committee as the new President of SEARCC, taking over from India's Dr Srinivasan during the Closing Ceremony of the Conference.
This is the first time an Australian has held the pre-eminent role with SEARCC since we were admitted to membership in 1987 and represents exciting possibilities for Australia's position within the region.
With so much momentum on e-commerce and other key technologies, this is a critical opportunity for us to develop a truly open environment for exchanging ideas and fostering relationships.
Not only does the entrusting of this role demonstrate yet again the strength and stature of the ACS within the region, but it further underscores the reality that Asia continues to want to develop and grow its relationship with Australia.
I am very conscious of the honour, both to myself and to Australia, to be entrusted with the responsibility of leading SEARCC into the new millennium.
While the times are challenging, the Confederation has never been in a stronger position and the interest in SEARCC has never been greater.
In fact, when the SEARCC Executive Council met in Darwin, we decided to accept an application from China, which will now undertake the required procedure of spending two years as an Observer before the membership application is confirmed.
I would like to thank everyone who attended SEARCC'98.
ACS is planning to take a sizeable delegation to Singapore for SEARCC'99, to be held in December next year.
Prins Ralston is president of the ACS