Boost for Sarawak’s MICE industry


SARAWAK is fast becoming the preferred venue for conventions — national and international — and recently, the Sarawak Convention Bureau (SCB) rewarded 45 individuals for contributing towards the growth of the state’s MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and conventions) industry.Among them is Kuching’s only female orthodontist, Dr Noraini Alwi, who has made Sarawak proud by being not only the first lady president as well as Sarawakian to helm the male-dominated Malaysian Association (MAO) of Orthodontists but also one of the few to have brought Sarawak out of the shadow of Peninsular Malaysia in dental health care.

As MAO president, she has managed to successfully lobby for the 16th MAO International Scienfic Conference and Trade Exhibition to be held in her home state (Sarawak) next year.

“It will be the first time an exhibition of such stature is held outside Kuala Lumpur … and in Sarawak,” she said.

A total of 250 participants is expected, making the event the largest in MAO history. The last exhibition only saw a total of 190 participants.

“Being a local, it’s only natural that I want to promote my own home state and besides, Sarawak has so much to offer,” Dr Noraini added.

To her, organising the event in Kuching with its serene landscape and hospitable people will be a refreshing change.

Participants usually stay in their hotel most of the time and when free, may prefer a less busy surrounding to unwind.

In this context, Dr Noraini felt Kuching had much to offer with its many rustic and idyllic attractions such as the Sarawak Cultural Village, the Semengok Camp and even the Matang Wildlife Centre.

She believed the state’s natural beauty and rich cultural diversity would be a crowd puller.

The state’s first female orthodontist is no stranger to organising big meetings, having under her belt many years experience in handling various national events with Perkim.

Not one to rest on past laurels, Dr Noriani is setting her sights far afield. Malaysia and three other countries — Singapore, Indonesia and Hong Kong — are lobbying to host 9th Asian Pacific Orthodontic Congress (APOC) in 2014 and she hopes Sarawak will be chosen as the venue.

“It’s early days yet, but yes, I would like very much to have Sarawak play host to the Congress,” she added.

Another Malaysian (from the peninsula), lawyer turned author Christina Chia has done her bit for the state.

As Napoleon Hill International Convention (NHIC) chairman, she is responsible for securing the job of hosting the second NHIC for Sarawak next year.

The Convention will enable the expected 2,000 success-conscious delegates the world over to enhance their understanding of Dr Napoleon Hill’s Success System while sharing experiences of personal ‘success’ journeys.

“Building on the success of the inaugural event in 2007, NHIC 2010 will again look at ways to help individuals such as business owners, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, retirees, schools leavers and students, incorporate success into their lives and build their own future,” said Chia, a senior partner at Christina Chia Ng & Partners (CCNP).

For the first time, NHIC 2010 will also open its doors to groups wishing to align their brands with the organisers’ quest to build a global success-conscious community and achieve worldwide success the community is aiming for.

Chia first learned of Dr Napoleon Hill’s Success System during a journey of self-discovery in 1999 and felt compelled to share it. Since then, she has founded the Napoleon Hill Associates group of companies and is a certified instructor from the Napoleon Hill Foundation and Napoleon Hill World Learning Centre, USA.

She has also written a book — Mind Garden — which underlines the basic principle that by sowing good thoughts, one will naturally reap good results.

According to Chia, Hill was an American author and one of the earliest producers of the modern genre of personal-success literature and his works examine the power of personal beliefs and the role they play in personal success.

How achievement actually occurs and a formula for it that puts success within the reach of the average person are the focal points of Hill’s books, which include Think and Grow Rich, one of the all-time best-sellers.

On the decision to hold NHIC 2010 in Sarawak, Chia said: “East Malaysia is an untapped market and I find Sarawakians a very passionate people, much like Dr Napoleon Hill.”

She is also impressed with the development in the state, having returned to Kuching for only the second time in many years.

The Convention, she said, would include a multi-sensory learning study retreat into the exotic rainforests of Borneo where participants could explore the wilderness and other exotic natural wonders to get in touch with Nature and their inner self.

Botanist Dr Siviram Venkatarame Gowda has so far brought one event to the state and lined up two for 2011 — his first being the Third  Global Summit on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants early this month with a total of 250 participants.

The International Bee Keeping Congress in February 2011 is expected to host a total of 400 participants while  between 500 and 600 participants are expected to attend the Second World Biodiversity Congress in September 2011.

Sarawak, according to Dr Siviram, is a prefect venue to host events relating to botany due to its rich and diverse flora and fauna.

“Borneo Island has one of the world’s oldest rainforests, making it an excellent venue for conservation conferences. And at this time of economic downturn, Sarawak is a preferred venue because of its lower costs of living,” he said.

Dr Noriani, Chia and Dr Sivaram attributed their success to the Sarawak Convention Bureau. They said the Bureau had gone the extra mile to ensure the success of all the events they initiated, stressing: “The credit is not entirely ours — it’s shared.

“The SCB staff are very helpful and dedicated.  I have to admit without them, I doubt I can pull it off,” Dr Noraini noted.

Dr Siviram also expressed his gratitude to the Bureau for its assistance.

“The SBC staff know their work well and that’s important, especially when you are talking about big international events,” he said.

Chia is impressed with the professionalism and efficiency of SCB staff as well as the warmth and friendliness of the locals.