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Interview: Chong Siak Ching, CEO Summit preview
From communications to security, APEC's CEO Summit organizer pulls back the curtain on a year of planning and prep for one of APEC's marquee events
As chairperson of the APEC CEO Summit 2009 organizing committee, Chong Siak Ching has been in on the event from the day the first note was taken. Here's her preview of one of the week's most anticipated APEC gatherings.
CNNGo: What’s new about this year’s APEC CEO Summit?
Chong Siak Ching: We have 15 APEC leaders speaking at the event, the largest number since the inception of the CEO Summit in 1996. The event is by invitation only, but we have received an overwhelming number of requests to attend, beyond our list of invitations.
We have pulled out the stops to make sure that the CEO Summit will be a memorable experience. We have an opening performance that will enthrall the delegates. What is also different this year is the new communication channels that we’ve opened up to delegates and the wider public. This level of participation is unprecedented in the history of the CEO Summit.
CNNGo: When did preparations begin?
Chong: We started planning and conceptualizing more than a year ago. Our organizing committee comprises a team of over 20 people from a wide range of organizations. We also have a battery of event organizers, partners and hundreds of volunteers all coming together to make this event a success.
CNNGo: What’s been the biggest challenge?
Chong: A couple of challenges come to mind. One is developing an exciting program that will be both intellectually stimulating and relevant to the present times. Another is having to turn away late registrants due to overwhelming response. Wish we could accommodate everybody!
CNNGo: With the large number of world leaders descending on Singapore, what’s the security situation like?
Chong: No stone is being left unturned. Security is the top priority and we’re in the good hands of the relevant government agencies. Singapore has had the benefit of experience hosting international business events, like IMF and World Bank. Delegates can be assured that APEC will receive even more attention from our security forces.
CNNGo: What will delegates see when they step foot into the Summit?
Chong: Besides the bright colors of the APEC CEO Summit banners, when delegates first step in the Suntec venue they will receive a warm welcome and a reception that introduces them to Singapore -- past and present. They will then proceed to an elegant ballroom designed to accommodate more than 1,000 delegates.
CNNGo: What’s the one thing you want delegates to go away with?
Chong: I would like the delegates to embrace the theme of the CEO Summit, that each and every one of us as leaders in our respective fields and environments can "lead the change" towards rebuilding a global economy that offers sustainable and balanced growth.
CNNGo: Tips on how to get the most out of the Summit?
Chong: Come with an open mind, and contribute with no-holds barred. Network with the crowd. Be prepared to lead the change, but most importantly, enjoy yourself in Singapore!