Measuring stick

Challenges in Asia Pacific

By Gabriela Ehrlich

Interview with Robert Chua, former President of Singapore NC (National Committee) and CB (Council Board) member of the IEC as well as Chairman of the IEC Asia-Pacific Steering Group on challenges for the IEC in the Asia/Pacific region.

Robert Chua, former President of Singapore NC and Chairman of the IEC Asia-Pacific Steering Group

Increase awareness

When asked what the biggest challenge is for the region in which he is active, Chua mentions the need to educate manufacturers about the IEC which is not well enough known by them: “Manufacturers look at Europe and the US and often think because Europe is very strict about certification that the CE certification is enough…that if they comply with CE then their product is good to go anywhere…they don’t understand that IEC Standards are the “measuring stick”, that their product needs to comply with IEC International Standards”. Chua further underlines that people in governments and in national committees change often and that there is a constant need to educate new people so that they can pass their knowledge on to those audiences that need to know.

From followers to leaders

Chua believes that while all important countries in the region actively participate in standard setting, others have not yet caught on. Those he encounters he tells: “if you are just receiving standards set by others, they have the advantage. If you think it’s not a worthwhile investment to participate, than you will just remain a follower.” China is starting to understand this and they are working on improving their language skills to better participate. As a short-cut, some Chinese companies try to hire consultants who are real technical experts. However, active participation in international standardization is not only a technical decision. Furthermore, countries like China sometimes also find it challenging to influence the work of the IEC.

Realize that International is essential

Nevertheless, language clearly is a barrier for China, Korea and Japan. However, Chua believes an even bigger barrier is that countries in this region need to realize that International is essential, that they need IEC International Standards not just national or regional standards. They must be prepared to invest.

Simplification needed

Chua also believes that standards must be made simpler to read and understand: “you shouldn’t need a lawyer or have a PhD to apply a standard.” Chua is convinced that simplification doesn’t mean that the standard will lose its essence. He feels: “It all comes down to making a complex subject simple enough to understand”, and in his experience this can and increasingly must be achieved. The language barrier is one reason for the need for simplification; the other is that users often don’t have the same education as the experts who wrote the standard.

Involving the next generation

Finally Chua underlined how glad he is that the IEC is reaching increasingly out to Young Professionals: “if you don’t give importance to education and succession planning, than there is going to be little awareness of standardization and little interest in getting involved.” Greentech is in his opinion a good platform to get more young people interested: “they realize that standards are needed so as to not repeat mistakes and because they provide a platform on which things can be built. Everything else is a waste and people increasingly realize this.”

89931 Robert Chua, former President of Singapore NC and Chairman of the IEC Asia-Pacific Steering Group
Robert Chua, Gabriela and Dennis From left to right: Robert Chua with Gabriela Ehrlich, IEC Head of Communicatons and Dennis Chew, Regional Director IEC-APRC
0044 It's important for the younger generation to get involved in standardization work