IntlSOS 30 Years - From East to West - Page 23

01 Early Days in Asia | Accessing Asia
Each country has a similar story to tell and many
achievements to be proud of. The following highlights are
a small selection of key moments during the 1990s in Asia:
Hong Kong
Our first office opened in 1986, to help support
clients in Hong Kong and those with operations in
China which was just beginning to open up. As our
next opening after Jakarta and Singapore this was
an important step in creating a regional presence
and expanding our network into North East Asia.
Hong Kong had many of the same qualities as
Singapore: An advanced medical system, very good
telecommunications, efficient transportation,
high quality hospitals and clear rules of law. It was
the obvious port of call for surrounding countries,
such as the Philippines, and it was right next to
China. Importantly Hong Kong had a fast growing
economy, was business friendly and very interested
in innovation.
As Arnaud says: “Hong Kong was fundamental to
our development. It was the twin of Singapore and
the necessary next step to demonstrate our Asian
capability to offer a service throughout the region.”
We first started our operations in Myanmar in
1987 but business was slow. In 1995 we signed a
Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry
of Tourism whereby every traveller to Myanmar
would have access to a clinic and in return the
government would pay a fee for each tourist.
Mui Huat, who joined the company in May 1995,
was given the task of setting up this clinic and
24/7 Assistance Centre in just 60 days. Pascal
gave him some drawings, helped him find some
contractors, and together they did it.
In principle, the Memorandum of Understanding
should have been very lucrative; in practice, despite
Mui Huat’s best efforts, the money was not
forthcoming. Similar agreements were made
in other countries; they too were financially
unrewarding, but they did help nurture our
relationships with the relevant authorities.
The Manila Assistance Centre opened in 1996.
The Seoul office and Assistance Centre opened
in 1989.
Our Kuala Lumpur office opened in 1996, in a
serviced office with a national General Manager.
We moved to a new office and set-up the 24/7
Assistance Centre in 1997. This has become a large
centre of activity for us and part of our medical
services operations are managed regionally out
of Kuala Lumpur.
We opened our office in Bangkok in 1986, and in
1994 upgraded it to a full-scale Assistance Centre.
As was often the way, we started with one major
client and gradually attracted others.
International SOS started its operations in India in
1998. Today we employ over 200 full-time staff and
operate out of three offices in Bangalore, New Delhi
and Mumbai.
Our specialist Security Information Centre is also
based here.
In 1993 we opened our operational office in
Taipei and upgraded it to a full-scale 24/7
Assistance Centre in 1994.
South Korea
The Ulaanbaatar operation began in 1994. We
partnered with Mrs Sarangerel Luvsanvandan,
Director of Medica Mongolia LLC to open an affiliate
clinic, SOS Medica Mongolia Clinic, in April 2004.
The clinic services have grown to include dentistry,
rehabilitation and pain management, traditional
medicine, health screening and immigration medical
examinations. There is also a branch clinic in Zaisan.
The team has now grown to over 150 people, with
nine of the medical team internationally certified in
Advanced Cardiac Life Support and eight in
Paediatric Advanced Life Support.
The late 1990s was a time of civil unrest and
many companies were leaving. We had no presence
in Cambodia but we had clients there and they
wanted help getting out. Action was called for.
In 1998 Dr Philippe Barrault went to Cambodia
and found that the US government was looking
for medical support in their Phnom Penh Embassy.
Not only did he persuade them that he could
build a clinic within six weeks, he did just that,
thereby opening up another good opportunity
to work with the US government.


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