Charting the future of the Singapore Computer Society

As some of you might know, I am a Fellow of the Singapore Computer Society. That honour was conferred on me in 2009 for my contributions to the IT profession as well as to the SCS. It’s humbling to have that recognition – the SCS is, after all, my professional body.

Which brings me to this: I have thrown in my hat to run for the office of the President of the Singapore Computer Society. The elections will be held on Thursday March 26 2015.

This year, the position will be contested by two persons, Howie Lau and myself. Howie is a great stalwart of the SCS and it is a privilege to have had many delightful opportunities to work with him in the SCS executive council over the years.

I am using this post to place on record my vision for the Singapore Computer Society so that members who would be at the AGM will be able to vote based on who they deem is the best person whose vision resonates with the membership.

Harish Pillay, Fellow SCS

Candidate for President, Singapore Computer Society

Statement from Candidate:

The Singapore Computer Society was founded in 1967 and come 2017, will be marking 50 years of serving Singapore’s IT professionals. It is time to look forward to the next half-century and beyond.

The IT world has changed dramatically since SCS’ founding. Back then computers were large systems owned and operated by a select group of businesses and government. In the intervening years, computers have become ubiquitous. It is everywhere we look.

Over the years, the SCS has recognized that membership of the SCS has to keep up with the changes in the industry as well as keeping the professional current and relevant.

We have a total of just over 30,000 members which includes about 8,000 professional (and membership fee paying) at it’s core, and the rest student members from the various institutions of higher learning in Singapore.

Looking into the future, the SCS needs bold and fresh ideas to engage, enthuse and attract members who identify and live the goals and mission of the Singapore Computer Society. Our member demography has to be as wide as possible especially with the growing groups of tech entrepreneurs. Their energy, enthusiasm and drive will help the SCS be a thriving and relevant organization.

The SCS needs makers, dreamers and artists in addition to suits and ties. The SCS has to be relevant to them as their professional organization that they choose to belong to.

As president of the SCS, here are some of the action items I would want to run with:

a) Recognizing that the chapters and special interest groups form the base rock of the SCS, to make sure that they continue to be relevant to the membership and to review their structure and activities to revitalize them to engage strongly across the membership.

b) Rationalize the use of Infopier’s asset to further the ideals of the Society.

c) Ensure that the Society has a strong voice in issues relating to copyright and patents especially those around software and make representations as needed. Technology, largely driven by computers, are dramatically changing many aspects of society and being plugged into and being cognizant of issues that impact members are very important (including the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations).

d) Review the SCS Resource Center’s charter/usage to maximize the revenue potential. No, this is not a suggestion to sell, but a suggestion to look at doing good with it.

e) Establish a Fellow’s Council which will include all Fellows of the SCS. It will be constituent body of the SCS that offers mentorship, guidance and general support to SCS and its membership.

f) Review the use of proxy votes in AGMs/EGMs. A member acting as a proxy should not represent more than 20 members at these meetings (there are no limits currently). In addition, the SCS must explore and implement an electronic voting system similar to what the IEEE does.

My credentials:
2013: Distinguished Partner, SPRING Singapore, for contributions to IT Standards Committee ( and promotion of software programming in Singapore.
2009: SCS Fellow for contributions to the Society and the local ICT Industry
2005: Inducted into Council of Outstanding Early Career Engineers, College of Engineering, Oregon State University for contributions to the computer/electrical engineering profession.
2005: I was Deputy Commander of Ops Lion Heart of the Singapore Civil Defence Force Search and Rescue Team and was deployed in Banda Aceh following the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

I received my BSCS and MSEE both from Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, USA in 1988 and 1990 respectively.

My relationship with the SCS started in 1991. I was then the Chairman of the BBS SIG, which got renamed the Internet SIG.

In the 2000s, I got elected into the SCS executive committee. In the SCS ExCo, I have held various portfolios such as the Editor of publication “IT Society”, Chairman of Community Outreach, Advisor to the Wireless Chapter, member of Thought Leadership Panel etc.

A little known factoid is that I personally manage the email domain and mail forwarding for the Society’s members. In many ways it is tech therapy for me as doing it keeps the skills alive and is my on-going contribution to my professional society.

In  1993 I founded the Linux Users’ Group (Singapore). In 1996, I organized  the inaugural APRICOT (Asia Pacific Regional Internet Conference on  Operational Technologies) which is a regional, week long event that trains and engages with technical and policy community around all things about  the Internet. SCS was the host of APRICOT 1996 and 1999. APRICOT continues to be held annually around the Asia Pacific region.

I am the current president of the Internet Society Singapore Chapter and my two year term ends in August 2015.

I am currently working at Red Hat Asia Pacific heading up a global group that engages with the worldwide free and open source community of developers and hackers as well as working on public policy around technology in governments around the Asia Pacific region. I have been with Red Hat for about 13 years now holding various technology, sales and consulting roles. Previous to Red Hat, I had three start ups all in the technology and application services space.

I am married and my wife and I have two teenaged sons.


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