CISA executives tight-lipped about intentions to run in upcoming student peak body elections

WITH just days to go before the CISA elections, executive committee members of Australia’s international student peak body are keeping mum about their election hopes for another term in office. Amber Ziye Wang and Hieu Chau report.

Incumbent members of the CISA executive committee. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

Incumbent members of the CISA executive committee. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

There has been little transparency around the upcoming elections of the international student peak body CISA, as committee members have been coy or shunned questions from the media altogether, despite earlier agreeing to interviews as part of the peak body’s election coverage.

The council is the official body representing the more than 422,000 international students in Australia.

A photoshoot had been organised in early May and interview questions put to the executive committee shortly after around their achievements and political ambitions, but so far, only CISA president Thomson Ch’ng has responded.

Mr Ch’ng says he is planning to return to his university roots after two terms as president, though stopped short of giving a straight ‘no’ to his intention to try for a third term in office.

“My position regarding my future plan and more specifically, the question on whether I am running for the CISA presidency again is clear,” Mr Ch’ng said, pointing to an interview he did with The Pie News as “reference”.

“It is time for me to go back to where I first started, my beloved campus of Curtin University Sydney and contribute back to the campus community after July this year,” he said.

An excerpt of CISA president Thomson Ch'ng's interview with the Pie News on his tenure. Source: The Pie News

An excerpt of CISA president Thomson Ch’ng’s interview with the Pie News on his tenure. Source: The Pie News

Nominations for a spot on the executive committee will close next Wednesday July 8 at 1pm, with nominees announced at 4pm on the same day, and elections taking place at the AGM on Thursday July 9 after the CISA conference in Melbourne.

A new election process has also been introduced this year affecting new officers of the association and ordinary members of the executive committee, including the requirement for student associations across Australia to nominate student leaders from different parts of the country.


CISA president Thomson Ch’ng. Photo: Julian Tay

“We’ll conduct document checks to ensure that candidates are enrolled in an Australian education institution, have good conduct, and uphold a leadership role currently or in the past in one of the member organisations,” Mr Ch’ng said.

For student leaders wanting to apply, Mr Ch’ng stressed that students should understand the level of responsibility that comes with either becoming president or part of CISA’s executive committee representing “almost half a million international students in Australia”.

Looking back, Mr Ch’ng is satisfied with the strides he and his team have made in advocating for international students.

“We’ve managed to lead CISA as a fighting force for international students, working with different stakeholders of different natures, like governments, education and service providers, community organisations,” Mr Ch’ng reflected.

First arriving in 2009 as an overseas student studying his Bachelor of Commerce at Curtin University in Sydney, during his studies the Malaysian-born Ch’ng quickly wanted to learn how he could help his peers.

“My passion and interest toward representing and helping my fellow friends and students got me into CISA,” he said.

Mr Ch’ng believes the peak body has matured as an organisation  since it was established five years ago.

“We are being recognised by international students, governments, media [and] education sector with a strong presence in the mainstream media,” Mr Ch’ng said.

“I personally as CISA president have been able to point CISA in the right direction, and we have a very solid foundation now,” he said.

“We’ve got talent in the executive team to advocate and lobby for changes toward a better quality and experience for students.”

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