The Borg take over AWARE at AGM

Resistance is futile.

Wanna bet the Law Society of Singapore is next???

Now I understand why these new committee members (& the NMPs they support) were writing paranoid letters & scaremongering about people’s hidden agendas & plans to force the majority to live by rules of a vocal minority…

Because suspicions come from your own nature:
a liar always thinks he’s being lied to
a thief always suspects others of stealing from him
and those always trumpeting the ‘hidden agenda’ of others?
Well–read about the AWARE AGM.

Interesting how in the past new office holders talked about their goals for Aware, their planned projects & outreach programmes etc.
But now it’s

Aware would be releasing a press statement in ‘the next few days’.

according to Jenica Chua,
and all the other new office holders were either unreachable or said ‘no comment’.

Not surprising if you remember that individual Borg seldom speak, negotiate or reason. They assimilate.
What will they do now?
We have to wait & see what the Borg Queen has to say…

ST, 10 April 2009

Unknowns knock out veterans at Aware polls

Caught off-guard by big turnout, longtime members lose to fresh faces
By Wong Kim Hoh

SINGAPORE’S best-known women’s group, the Association of Women for
Action and Research (Aware), has seen a dramatic changing of the guard
– which some members are describing as nothing short of a leadership
grab.

When Aware held its annual general meeting on March 28, everyone
expected the usual: No more than 30 or 40 members would turn up at its
Dover Crescent centre, and a prepared slate of candidates would be
voted into office easily.

Instead, more than 100 people came, the majority of whom had joined
Aware only in recent months.

And when the election of office bearers began, almost every position
was challenged by new faces, who won by wide majorities.

In the end, nine out of 12 executive committee spots went to the
newcomers.

One older member who won without a contest was Mrs Claire Nazar, a
former corporate counsel nominated to be president by outgoing Aware
chief Constance Singam.

But barely a week into her new term, and before making her first
statement as president, Mrs Nazar quit suddenly this week.

She confirmed that she had resigned, but declined to say any more when
reached by The Straits Times.

It is not known who will now become president.

Longtime members took two other positions: Chew I-Jin as assistant
honorary treasurer and Caris Lim Chai Leng was elected a committee
member.

The election results have left longtime Aware members in shock.

Former president Tan Joo Hymn, 38, told The Straits Times the big
turnout at the AGM surprised her.

‘I arrived at the meeting late and found out that I was No. 100 on the
attendance list. I’ve been a member for 10 years, and never before has
there been such a turnout,’ said the former lawyer who is now a full-
time mother.

Another former president, writer Dana Lam, 57, said: ‘There were many
faces I had not seen before, and I found that very strange.

‘In previous years, even if there were new members, they would be
known to one or more of the older members.’

The first indication that something was afoot came when Ms Chew, an
Aware veteran, was challenged and defeated handsomely by new member
Charlotte Wong Hock Soon for the post of vice-president.

Ms Chew was later elected unopposed as assistant honorary treasurer.

‘It was alarming,’ said Ms Lam. ‘How could a new member who had just
joined for a couple of months, and whom we knew nothing about, be
picked over someone who has been with Aware for more than 15 years?’

Some of the older members immediately began checking the attendance
list.

Ms Tan said: ‘We found that about 80 of the 102 who turned up were new
members who joined between January and March this year.’

Aware, a feminist group that has prided itself on being ‘all
inclusive’, has never vetted the people who apply to be members.

Men can join too, as associate members.

As it dawned on them that a leadership grab was imminent, some older
members at the AGM tried asking the newcomers who they were, what they
stood for, and why they wanted to be in charge.

They got only the briefest answers, they said.

Ms Lam said she tried suggesting that new members serve a stint on
Aware’s various sub-committees before standing for election to
leadership positions.

But such suggestions went unheeded as the election proceeded, with
more newcomers winning executive committee positions by landslide
margins.

Ironically, the old guard at Aware had been working towards changing
their Constitution to make it a rule that only those who have been
members for at least a year would be eligible to join the ex-co.

There is currently no rule to bar a brand new member from seeking
office, and that was what happened at the AGM.

Ms Tan said: ‘We were simply outnumbered. Technically, they got in
legitimately.’

She added that the way the election proceeded was so unusual, it was
hard to imagine that the takeover was not a planned effort.

‘It could not be pure coincidence,’ she said.

But little is known of Aware’s new leaders, aside from the fact that
they include women from the corporate sector, lawyers, company
directors and academics.

Older members said the newcomers spoke well but would not elaborate on
their plans for Aware.

‘When asked if they believed in equality, they kept repeating they
were there to support women and to make sure they got ahead and got
all the opportunities given to them,’ Ms Lam said.

Older members were keen to know if the newcomers shared Aware’s vision
and values, including equality for all regardless of race, religion or
sexuality.

But one outspoken new member from the floor, who identified herself as
Angela Thiang, said questions about the new office bearers’ religion
and their stand on homosexuality were not relevant.

Former Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) Braema Mathi, a two-term
president of Aware, told The Straits Times that she, like many other
members, was concerned.

‘If you are keen to serve, you don’t challenge every position. We do
not know who they are,’ said the former journalist who is now in
Bangkok doing consultancy work for international women’s group Unifem.

‘It is very troubling, more so because I’ve heard the new president
has resigned.’

Almost a fortnight into their new roles, the new leaders of Aware were
not entertaining calls from the media this week.

New honorary secretary Jenica Chua Chor Ping told The Straits Times a
press release would be issued ‘in a few days’ and added that until
then, the committee would not answer any questions.

A check showed that some of those at the AGM and on the new committee
have appeared in The Straits Times Forum Page.

Ms Chua, Ms Thiang and Dr Alan Chin, a male member of Aware who
attended the AGM and supported the newcomers, all wrote letters to
this newspaper between August and October 2007.

In a letter on Oct 17 that year, Ms Chua said NMP Siew Kum Hong had
overstepped his non-partisan role and advanced the homosexual cause by
tabling a petition in Parliament to repeal Section 377A of the Penal
Code which criminalises homosexual sex between consenting men.

In another letter on Oct 25, she took issue with a Straits Times
report which said NMP Thio Li-Ann had been ‘visibly distraught’ when
she opposed Mr Siew’s petition vigorously.

Ms Chua said Ms Thio had dealt with several points succinctly, with
humour and passion.

Dr Chin and Ms Thiang both wrote letters to caution against the risks
of promoting the homosexual lifestyle.

Meanwhile, news of Aware’s AGM has spread among older members who did
not attend the meeting, as well as civil society groups.

The most frequently-asked questions: Who are the new women in charge,
why do they want the leadership, and what are their plans for Aware?

Ms Mathi said: ‘The building of an institution takes many years;
building its value system is even harder.

‘Why can’t they come in and be part of the process, and build it
together and in a more evolutionary manner? That way, the comfort
level will be high for everyone.’

Former newspaper editor and media consultant Peter Lim, a longtime
associate member of Aware, said he was very surprised to learn what
had taken place.

Asked why he thought a group of newcomers would want to take control,
he said he did not know if it was an orchestrated effort.

But he thought Aware would be attractive to those seeking to be in
charge of an established institution. Setting up a new outfit would
take too much time and trouble.

‘Aware has built up its credentials over the years and achieved more
than a few things,’ he said.

Three former Aware presidents – Ms Claire Chiang, Dr Kanwaljit Soin
and Ms Mathi – have served as NMPs.

‘Aware is a brand name and most people regard it as the leading voice
of the feminists and modern women in Singapore,’ said Mr Lim.

kimhoh@sph.com.sg

=====

SIDEBAR

‘It was alarming. How could a new member who had just joined for a
couple of months, and whom we knew nothing about, be picked over
someone who has been with Aware for more than 15 years?’

Former president Dana Lam

====

The New Team
THE Straits Times understands that the following were elected to
Aware’s new committee on March 28, 2009.

# President: Claire Nazar

# Vice-president: Charlotte Wong Hock Soon

# Honorary secretary: Jenica Chua Chor Ping

# Assistant honorary secretary: Sally Ang Koon Hian

# Honorary treasurer: Maureen Ong Lee Keang

# Assistant honorary treasurer: Chew I-Jin

# Committee member: Caris Lim Chai Leng

# Committee member: Catherine Tan Ling Ghim

# Committee member: Josie Lau Meng Lee

# Committee member: Lois Ng

# Committee member: Irene Yee Khor Quin

# Committee member: Peggy Leong Pek Kay

But new president Claire Nazar has just quit her post. She confirmed
this, but declined to comment further when contacted by The Straits
Times.

Of the other committee members, only Ms Chew I-Jin and Ms Caris Lim
are longtime members of Aware.

Ms Chew had been nominated by the Aware old guard for the vice-
president’s post but she was trounced by newcomer Charlotte Wong, and
had to settle for the assistant treasurer’s position, which she won
without a contest.

The Straits Times e-mailed Aware this week requesting interviews with
members of the new committee, but did not receive a reply.

The newspaper also tried contacting some of the members – Jenica Chua,
Josie Lau and Lois Ng – on their mobile phones, hoping they might shed
light on who they are, how they are connected to other newly elected
office-bearers, or what they are planning to do now that they are in
charge.

Ms Lau and Ms Ng could not be reached.

Ms Chua confirmed that she was on the new executive committee and said
Aware would be releasing a press statement in ‘the next few days’.

But she flatly refused to take any more questions.

The Straits Times also contacted two other new members who were at the
AGM: Ms Angela Thiang, who spoke up in support of the newcomers who
stood for election, and Dr Alan Chin, who helped to count the votes.

Ms Thiang said she would return the call, but did not. She could not
be reached subsequently.

Dr Chin confirmed that he was an Aware member but, like the others,
refused to answer any questions.

New guard: No comment, for now.

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21 Responses

  1. Feminist Mentor I find is rather a contradiction of terms, though a rather flattering allusion. And there are no lack of personalities that gives the story so many possible angles, albeit speculation, such as for the claim that there was officially not orchestration, you can count less than 6 degrees between any of them.

  2. If heaven gets populated by people like this – self-righteous, bigoted, intolerant – I’d rather burn in hell for all eternity.

    During the middle ages Protestants and Catholics slaughtered each other over doctrinal differences. And all for what?

    These fundies give me the creeps.

  3. […] AWARE was ‘taken over’.. – Musings: Anti-gay lobby hijacks AWARE – Writing-Yoga-Living: The Borg take over AWARE at AGM – bread crumbs and candy cottage: Coup D’etat (or Organized Crime) of Association of Women […]

  4. Sarah Palin and the republican party has definitely invaded AWARE I assure you. These Sarah won’t be shooting caribous or polar bears – she’s got her eyes trained on ‘deviants’.

    Ov – time for you to warp to the next meeting and zap them.

    Kevin

  5. “First they came for the gay and lesbians…. I did not speak up as I was not one….

    And then they came for the abortion doctors… I did not speak up as I was not one….

    And then they came after adulterers… I did not speak up as I was not one….

    And Then they came for ME (an unbeliever)… And there were no one left to speak up….”

  6. Who are these people? Anti-gay is probably just 1 of the “exposed” common traits. What else they have in common? Something lurking around that we must know and be wary of.

  7. […] Furthermore, obviously people who never attended any AGMs at all would be shocked but this is what happens during AGMS from condos to country clubs whenever there is a power grab. It is legitimate and actually crafty […]

  8. Hi there

    You might want to be wary of this mathialee. She obviously either do not know what the hell is going on or just speaking up for the fundies. Check out what she has been saying here to Ng E-Jay.

    I think she does not know how the Straits Times report came about. Which camp are you coming from Mathias Lee? Being a member of AWARE and a volunteer does not say much really.

    http://www.sgpolitics.net/?p=2669

  9. This just shows that the existing exco have been in the dark of what is going on. If AWARE is supposed to represent the women, then how is it that the existing exco can be so ‘untuned’ that they just walked into a coup without knowing one?

    I think its high time that the old exco and its old members start asking themselves if they are serving themselves or serving the women at large. If something revolutionary like this happens, don’t question the intent of the ones creating the revolutionaries, better question what the incumbents have been doing to further their so called mission. Objectively speaking, it tells me that the incumbents have not been furthering the original objectives of Aware.

  10. […] Furthermore, obviously people who never attended any AGMs at all would be shocked but this is what happens during AGMS from condos to country clubs whenever there is a power grab. It is legitimate and actually crafty […]

  11. Hi Mathia,

    I do not know you but I’m relieved to hear of your continued effort in Aware in spite of what happened recently and what might happen in Aware. There is growing awareness of what is happening and sane voices are going to speak up, just that they haven’t as they would like to see what the new exco has to say.

  12. […] AWARE was ‘taken over’.. – Musings: Anti-gay lobby hijacks AWARE – Writing-Yoga-Living: The Borg take over AWARE at AGM – bread crumbs and candy cottage: Coup D’etat (or Organized Crime) of Association of Women […]

  13. Many people have been voicing their concern about the impact of the new exco on AWARE’s existing programmes, especially where things like Sexuality are concerned.

    For those of you who have been following my blog, you will have noticed I’m very active in this programme, and so is Caris Lim, one of the old-timers who was re-elected.

    I will assure everyone, that as long as I am involved, I will always make sure that only secular, responsible and non-discriminatory messages are being put across.

    I sincerely hope that supporters of secular, responsible and non-discriminatory education of any subject, will continue to support AWARE, and to let others know that we are still committed to this vision. There are many people who might not be in the exco, but we are the ones making sure this programme works and that it is being carried out. We do face prejudice from the conservative factions of society, and we hope that the enlightened people will continue to support us, instead of simply writing us off, because they have been scared off by an ST report about an unusal AGM outcome.

    If we lose your support, then perhaps, what the ST report would have achieved, is the damaging of the credibility and effectiveness of AWARE, more than anything itself. In Singapore, platforms for non-governmental alternative voices are few and far between, and we need united support from all who share the same philosophy, in order to speak with a louder voice.

    — mathialee.wordpress.com

  14. Societies should be secular, if there is any hint of religious agenda, they should be investigated, should they not?

  15. The Curious Tale of the Overturned Wigwam

    Crescent moon over Dover valley
    Old squawks waddle
    Into gathering
    Surprised by many new squawks
    “How” they greet each other

    Young squawks sat on old squawks
    That was no make-up
    or Channel No. 5
    Mascara put aside
    War paint in full bloom
    Feathers rustling
    Arrows flying
    Into old fowls hide
    “How!”

    Full moon rises
    Over Doverland
    Old squawks lie in heaps
    Wigwam overturned
    Dazed & bloodied
    Old squawks cry
    “How?”

    Thus New squawks sit
    High on Totem Pole
    A curious tale of
    the overturned Wigwam
    And how war paint
    can be mistaken for make-up
    Ugh.

  16. […] AWARE AGM cat fight Anti-gay lobby hijacks AWARE Why AWARE was ‘taken over’….. The Borg take over AWARE at AGM Coup D’etat (or Organized Crime) of Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) The […]

  17. I wish I can laugh, but I am disturbed by this. This is obviously an organised coup, which makes me think there’s a focused agenda behind it.

  18. Was shocked when I read about it last week. Oh mann… this could spell trouble.

  19. I am extremely, extremely perturbed about this development in Aware…

  20. Not a good sign at all.

  21. Hey Ovidia,

    While this is obviously terrible news, your blog is spot on and made me laugh out loud.

    I’ve done an emergency update of Glass Castle on this:

    http://www.glass-castle.org/issue20editorial.html

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