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More Aware Now

Instead of dying down, more people seem to be aware of the Aware (sorry!) excitement.

That’s even before the 3 Review page pieces in this morning’s Straits Times.

First, great piece by Alan John who summed up all the questions many of us have about the new Ex-Co–it’s the ‘No Comment’ stand and refusing to explain:

1. Why she joined Aware in January & what does she hope to achieve for Aware as President.
2. Whose idea was it for the newcomers to join en masse & contest the ExCo positions.
3. Is it true several of the new ExCo attend the same church and how far will their religious beliefs guide their direction of Aware.
4. What role does her husband, Dr Alan Chin, play in this saga?
5. Why this great reluctance to open up about who they are and what they most want to change at Aware?
6. Why grab Aware? If they had clear ideas about what needs to be done in terms of women’s issues, why not start a new group?

(sorry, Alan John if you see this–I paraphrased a bit but hope I kept the gist. Thanks for writing this!)

And one very very strong insight from Theresa W. Devasahayim:

Instead of onlookers reeling in horror at Aware’s fate, the instability it is experiencing now should be veiwed as healthy and perhaps necessary. For one thing, it should prod Aware members to consider what factors might have brought about the recent change and the responses it is attracting from the public…

(got more to say about the response in my next post–)

…Ideally, there should be continuity in this change, with the newly elected committee members working with the “old Guard”. Only thus can the group’s original mission be revitalised.

That’s exactly it–we shouldn’t lose sight of what the original mission is–working together to reach out to & support all women.

Which is kind of lost before you start if you throw a PR tantrum at the suggestion of talking to (in the same studio) the past president of the society you’ve just taken over…!

I also appreciated Theresa W mentioning the how Aware always brought together women

‘irrespective of (their) ethnic differences, religious affiliations, sexual orientation or class status’

That’s something else that we seem to have lost in the new ExCo.

But while I thought Andy Ho’s piece made great sense (& totally agree with his stressing the importance of transparency as well as discourse & debate as civil, democratic adults), his opening paragraphs I had a problem with:

The crux of the reports about the ongoing Aware saga seems to be that its new leaders attend church–by virtue of which they must therefore be dead set against gay rights.
Though these alleged facts have not yet been proven, they have led some to deem it unacceptable that the new group has won control of Aware.

PageA26 The Straits Times April 23

No Andy, that’s not the crux at all (again I’ll be talking about different ‘crux’ points for different people in the next post).
Many of the previous ExCo attend church. Many of the supporters of the old ExCo attend church. That has nothing whatsoever to do with their attitudes towards gay rights.

The only reason why the gay rights issue came up is that the only ‘claim to fame/notoriety/achievement’ several of the new ExCo members (or their very present husbands) have is that they have in the past publicly expressed strongly homophobic views in the press & online.

If you want it ‘proven’ that they are against gay rights you can read it in their own words nicely compiled here.

Though to be fair they aren’t so much against gay rights as against gay existence.
Very Hitlerian approach–if we exterminate them all we won’t have to discriminate against them!

But while it’s not a ‘problem’ for me at least that they ‘attend church’, it IS a MAJOR problem for me that so many of them seem to attend the same (rabidly homophobic, by the way) church but claim they didn’t know each other or make any plans for all their supporters to turn up at the Aware election before they converged on the AGM and took over.

That is the ‘crux’ (apt word choice by the way–since it means ‘crucifix’ but also puzzling, apparently insoluble problem) for most people.

How many believe there was no plan or coordination?

How many believe that all those new members (described as ‘scared looking aunties clutching their membership cards saying “Don’t know, we were just told to come today”) showed up at the AGM to vote them in by pure coincidence?

And if they are already lying about that (and not even lying very well) how can we believe they are people fit to lead Aware?

They aren’t the only ones who attend church.
I know other regular church goers who are praying that Josie & her new ExCo stop giving all Christians a bad name. (but again–more in the next post. Which I’ll never get round to if I keep getting distracted!!!)


7 Responses

  1. […] April 23 – More Aware now […]

  2. […] April 23 – More Aware now […]

  3. […] April 23 – More Aware now […]

  4. Hi Fargoal,

    agree with you. Surprisingly though, support is still growing Especially among the ‘ordinary’ married people whose main issue seems to be they don’t want to let the new ex-co ‘get away’ with this!

    Please go sign the petition okay? Open to men & women, at home & abroad. Thank you!

  5. Thanks, Ovidia, for your response. I’m a male S’porean based overseas, so I guess I am not eligible to vote. But speaking personally as a young married ordinary joe with a stake in the future of our country, I would be happy to support AWARE and what it stands for.

    Looking at the recent developments, it appears that the newbies have already passed the point of “no return”. Hence it looks like it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for them to get “buy in” from the old AWARE.

  6. Hi Fargoal, I totally agree with you–it’s not a different view at all but one that’s been pushed for (though unsuccessfully so far).

    No one wants to shut out the views of women like Josie and her new team. The main concern is that with them taking over the entire ExCo, their view becomes the only view.

    While this is valid as their view, it’s not likely to represent the viewpoint of all of Aware, especially given how new they are to the society, not just to the ExCo.

    Suggestions like ‘be a member/volunteer for at least a year before running for office’ were ignored and they have refused to accept input from long term members.

    In fact, despite their lack of familiarity with Aware projects they started off by dismissing long serving project chair persons.

    It’s difficult to talk about compromise & flexibility with a clique whose approach to discussion might be summed up as ‘We are in charge. You get out’. (see how they kicked Braema Mathi out. But even so the sweet lady has also been calling for reconciliation much as you suggest… so far ‘No Comment’ from new ex-co)

    Are you coming for the EOGM?

  7. I would like to offer a somewhat different view.

    AWARE works for the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights in Singapore. If so, and if AWARE supports all women in Singapore, then it should also take into account the views and concerns of people like Josie and her friends, who are also stakeholders in our society and successful women in their own right.

    I’m wondering, are both sides really so far apart? Any chance that both sides can form a coalition committee? It will be an uneasy balance but sometimes compromise and flexibility between competing groups is the only way forward.

    Put it another way, Josie and her Exco, if they continue as the new leadership of AWARE, will have to take into account the views and concerns of the old AWARE. Otherwise they will lose that sense of “buy-in” and they won’t get very far.

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