The Liaison Office, hosted by the Employees Provident Fund of Malaysia (EPF), was formally inaugurated at an event in Kuala Lumpur on 7 July attended by the ISSA President and Secretary General, senior government officials and leaders of ten social security organizations from Malaysia and the region. The opening was followed by an ISSA Technical Seminar on Administrative and Operational Efficiency which highlighted recent measures targeted at greater client satisfaction for members covered by social security programmes in Malaysia and neighbouring countries.
Speaking at the opening, the Deputy Finance Minister 1 of Malaysia, Dato’ Haji Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah, welcomed the initiative and emphasized the importance of social security for the country and the region.
"This recognition given to the EPF by the ISSA comes with an added responsibility in that the EPF must now assume a more active role in the development of ISSA programmes to ensure that the social security systems in the region remain sustainable and environmentally relevant," said Dato’ Haji Ahmad Husni Mohamad Hanadzlah.
The ISSA President, Corazon de la Paz-Bernardo, recognized that the common challenges facing social security schemes in the region required strengthened sharing of knowledge and experience among social security institutions.
"We are exposed to virtually the same global and regional developments, we have common interests, and we face common concerns," stated Mrs. de la Paz-Bernardo.
The ISSA President named two trends affecting countries throughout the region, namely the growth of the informal economy and the increased mobility of workers, which were impacting social security coverage and access.
The ISSA Liaison Office for South East Asia will be hosted by the Employees Provident Fund of Malaysia (EPF), which is Asia's fourth largest state-run pension fund, and a member of the ISSA since 1963. Chaired by Tan Sri Samsudin Osman, the EPF is noted for its efforts to foster excellence in the area of administrative performance. The EPF's Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Azlan Zainol, is also Vice-Chairperson of the ISSA's Technical Commission on Organization, Management and Innovation.
The ten ISSA members in the South East Asia region are expected to develop a common workplan for the Liaison Office in the coming period, which will set out activities aimed at increased cooperation and knowledge transfer across the region.
The opening of the Liaison Office is part of the new ISSA strategy to build pro-active regional structures which will deliver activities targeted at the specific regional priorities of its member organizations. ISSA Liaison Offices exist for members in the Americas (in Argentina); and for Arab countries (in Jordan). A Liaison Office for Southern Africa (in South Africa) will be officially opened in the coming months, and similar structures are under discussion in other regions.