Why am I running for the presidency of the SCS?

Yes, I’ve decided that I will run for the post of the President of the Singapore Computer Society. The Annual General Meeting of the SCS will be held later this month on 28th March 2019.


The Singapore Computer Society is my professional organization. I have spent many years in numerous roles within the Society as well as representing the SCS externally. I have gained tremendously from this personally with opportunities to lead SIGs and various committees, to inform, collaborate and be representative of what this profession is all about.

The time has come for me to give back by running for highest office in the Society while continuing to being part of a team that could bring the Society to higher achievements.

The Society was setup in 1967 – that’s 52 years ago. The technological landscape of 1967 is exponentially different to 2019. In 1967, man had yet to land on the moon. Today, the technologies, such as the integrated circuits,  that were invented by necessity for Lunar landing, are everywhere and riding on the Internet which itself took life in 1969. These two critical developments have unrecognizably transformed how people live, learn and enjoy their lives.

Singapore itself has progressed by leaps and bounds in many areas and, as the wise would remind us, the journey is never ending, with many more challenges and vistas to experience and conquer.

The Society has about 10,000 professional members and about 25,000 student and associate members. We pride ourselves in doing all that we can to promote the profession and also to be the voice of reason and technical competence. We do lots in that objective, but I feel we can do much, much more.

Digital technologies are highly pervasive and no part of life and economy is unimpacted. This places a significant burden on members and leadership of the Society to be both the beacon of excellence, professionalism and ethical behaviours in all that we do. This profession is the baseline and enabler of all parts of the economy, everywhere.

I am an electrical and computer engineer. As a Society, I feel we can do significantly more in the renewal and promotion of all forms of engineering, especially computer science. This is crucial for the long term future of the country. One cannot become a “Smart Nation”, if we are deficient and lacking in hardcore engineering skills within the nation at large. As a Society, we must be leading the charge in the enablement and evangelism of engineering skills including all of the subdisciplines

In doing these activities in enablement and education, we also need to raise the profession to one that is on par with a Chartered/Professional Software Engineer – similar in spirit and intent as the Professional Engineer Board‘s charter.. Granted this is not easy. But we must strive to achieve it. We can certainly draw upon the experience of the British Computer Society’s Chartered IT Professional.

I am a coder/maker. I write code to solve problems. I build things to solve and move things forward. I stand on the shoulders of others who came before me to make things better. What I create or help create is open to anyone to take and bring it to a higher level. The ethos of the free and open source communities is in my core.

I am reminded that when I did my Masters, I wrote in my thesis, a paragraph in page 6: “A lot of suggestions and hints came from a wide variety of sources too numerous to mention here. However, the one source that I would like to specifically mention is USENET. USENET’S newsgroups such as comp.protocols.tcp-ip, comp.os.os2, and comp.sys. ibm.pc were just wonderful in generating ideas and solutions.” Collaboration across groups from around the world to solve problems helped form my collaboration and leadership style. I thrive best when I can work with people who help sharpen the ideas and work towards achievable goals.

Likewise, I want to see the Society do lots more in areas such as skills training in as many areas as relevant and doable. Such benefits can be delivered by collaborating with edX, Coursera, Lynda (of LinkedIn) and even the elearning/training options of the local institutions of higher learning. Membership of the Society has to have significant advantage.

I would want to have the Society to be the thought leader in technology policy for the country. I would want to have a member of the Executive Council to head up a Policy committee, The charter of this Policy committee would be to generate thinking and analysis on topics and issues that are current to the Society and Singapore. The membership is a goldmine of talent and skills that I am sure will step forward to make this possible.

I am currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the Internet Society (from what I know, the first Singaporean on the Board). Singapore is blessed with a world class Internet infrastructure that will be driving the efforts around the Smart Nation. I would want the Society to have a liaison to the Smart Nation office so that we are at the table as we make collective progress in the grand vision.

The Society has a security focused Chapter and I would like to have them lead the effort in getting our membership to be actively using and deploying cryptography in all aspects of what we all do. Privacy and security has to be front and centre in the minds and way of life of our members. This will have a multiplier effect in raising the awareness and use of cryptography across all of the citizenry. Some would say that it is a challenging task. I say that it is an easy task. We need to try.

I have provided a snippet above on why I am running. I hope this is inspiring enough for you to consider voting for me at the AGM.

Note: If you are not able to attend the AGM, I will be pleased to carry your vote as a proxy. Please send me (harish dot pillay AT scs dot org dot sg) your name, membership number and membership grade and I will get in touch with you to get the proxy forms signed and delivered to the SCS by 5pm on Wednesday 27th March 2019.

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