Transcript of 23/04 Meeting

I’m sorry. I know nothing about this press conference. I’m a member of the exco and…to be an exco meeting right now… got this call to say that some press conference… I’m an exco member, okay, and I meant to be some…announcement…because I meant to…presentation alongside…at this time. You led me to believe I meant to be presenting something to you with…exco right now.
I-Jin, we note your comments and I request that you take a seat.
Do I hv a right of reply as we make this on behalf of my association, this presentation?
I-Jin, this is internal matters btwn us. I think it’s best that we settle it outside and separately from the media.
How internal is it If I’ve been kept in the dark and Josie has not replied any of my e-mails?
I-Jin, the truth is that this was called very very late. If the press cud even verify that it was called at a very very late stage.
So why is it Caris is sitting…doesn’t even know about it?
But there are ppl in the office running the meeting right now, the vice-president.
But why does…even know about this?
I guess, ok, I-Jin, I guess the media has been wanting to hear from the new faces and this meeting is called to address all the questions the media hv about the new faces. And as you’re an Old Guard, and the Old Guard has had their field day giving the media stories upon stories & info which are totally & utterly inaccurate, so this is our chance to talk to the media. So I wud appreciate that you leave this room…
I hv not been part of hte Old Guard argument. I’ve been with you in the exco. Okay, I happen to be Old Guard or in a sense that I’m an old member but I think I was going to table at the meeting today that you address these qns to save us further embarrassment, okay. So I’m with you, that you shud make this, I’m all for this. I just don’t appreciate not being told.
I-Jin, if you’re for us in the interest of the exco, pls take a seat. Thank you.
Good evening, members of the media. We apologise for this late notice in calling this briefing but I appreciate everybody’s attendance. And we call this meeting in haste because we feel that we shud not delay any more in disclosing something very serious to the public about Aware. And in tonight’s briefing we will talk about exco experience with Old Guard, what is Aware today, what does this exco aim to do and interactions with the media. Before we move fwd, I’d like to introduce the members at this table: Josie Lau, our president. She does not need further introduction. To her right is Maureen Ong, who’s the honorary treasurer. To my right is Jenica Chua. She’s the honorary secretary. And at the right of the table is Dr Thio Su Mien. Dr Thio is a supporter of families. So I’d like to start right now by our President addressing exco’s experience with the Old Guard for the last 3 and a half weeks.
Josie Lau: Friends of the media, thank you for coming at such late last minute notice. I had said in my 1st & last intvw after being appointed as President of Aware that I did not get involved in Aware to be engaged in controversies. And so far I’ve kept a very stoic & dignified silence. But with the recent happenings of events, I’ve no choice, it left me no choice to break this silence & come out publicly to say what’s been happening. And this is actually something that cud hv been resolved internally btwn the Old Guard & the New Guard in a very polite and civil way. But that has not happened. I’ll tell you so far I’ve only been appointed President for about a week & I’ve only been an exco member for about 3 weeks. But to date I’ve only been met with hostility, intimidation. I felt so bullied I tell you. I will tell you what’s happening. My family received death threats and it’s now a police case. Each day I fear for the physical safety of my children, my family. There’s even a blog site detailing my children’s names and which school they go to. I don’t understand what has sparked this irrational fear of us, the new exco members, and what hatred. If you’re a parent you will understand how I feel. I feel so indignant. All I wanted to do is to serve the community & be a member of this Aware, to push for the cause of women. Do I deserve this? Death threat? What has Spore become? Is this what we want in Spore? And I’ll tell you as President I hv an official president@aware.org.sg email. Guess what? The secretariat has locked me out. I hv confronted the secretariat. The secretariat has been fired, okay. I’ll tell you I’ve my fellow cttee members here who’ll share with you their own experience, how they’ve been subjected to hostility & uncooperative staff members in the last 3 weeks, and all we wanted is to push & start work & get going with our work. But will they allow us? No. They’ve just been pushing & pushing us, badgering us all the time.
Jenica, do you want to share your experience?
Jenica Chua: I want to put it forth that I came to join Aware because I felt that when I reach a certain age it’s impt to contribute to society, to Spore to help other women. And we’re in a difficult economic situation. So I went to Aware. I’ve been Aware member for over 2 yrs now. I went for the executive cttee position. And to my utter horror, after I was elected there were a lot of allegations about my link to 377A. I don’t know why it came out in the press. But because of, I’ve written many things to the press. I’ve written about technology index & other areas, but the only thing that came out on the 10th affer the exco was elected was the fact I wrote to 377A and there was a homosexual slant to it. The next day I recd a death threat. They threatened to harm my loved ones. The person said that he has now joined a jihadist. He’s anti-Christian & he will find ways to harm my family, my loved ones. And all I did was to join a women’s association. It’s a women’s association to help women. And I felt very intimidated. Why did this happen? I’m a normal Sporean like any other of you. Why shud this happen to me? And it never stopped. Three days ago my company’s corporate communications person called me. Somebody wrote an e-mail to my company to say that because of my involvement in Aware it’s bad for the company’s reputation & urged the company to take action against me. So now it’s evolved to a threat. And becos of that I couldn’t sleep for many nights. I felt very harassed. And all I did, the only thing I did was to join Aware. I don’t understand this. I thought I joined a women’s association to help women. And throughout this difficult period we had a lot of wrestles becos the previous president kept changing the timing for the exco to meet. It went to & fro, to & fro, and I was like stuck in btwn as the secretary. I don’t understand.
Josie Lau: I think Lois you may hv some experience too.
Lois Ng: Members of the press, suddenly I feel that it’s a crime to be a Christian & to hold an exco position. I’m a Christian. I’ve made no bones about it. It’s been reported in the paper & it’s also reported in my website. But I’m now on the hit list of this operation level. I’ve been termed a leper. And this blogger has gone online to garner support to boycott my business. And I run a biz for ppl with disabilities. They include the autistic, ppl with below average IQ, ppl with physical disability. And we make a living by producing creative & quality gifts for the corporate & tourist mkt. And this person has gone online & extracted info from the ST and listed my working address, which is at High Point in Geylang and also my customers, their tel nos & their addresses & he’s asked ppl to boycott my biz & to even make verbal & written complaints to my clients to stop buying from me. And he says this is to teach me a lesson for joining Aware because I’m a Christian. I’m shocked. Spore is a multiracial society. We embrace diversity in religion. My religion is a pte matter. It’s got nothing to do with my work in Aware. And I joined Aware becos I’ve been asked to help Aware start up a social enterprise, to create employment for women, esp women with, singles with children, unmarried women & women who are lowly educated. And I come in to create employment for them. I did not expect to be on their hit list and my life and my staff’s lives are also in danger. What is happening to our society right now? What is happening? Can someone explain this irrational & dangerous move by some small group of ppl?
Josie Lau: Maureen has something to add too.
Maureen Ong: Mine is not as bad as theirs. But really we’ve been trying very hard to get on with the work and we hv been hampered from doing so. We’ve recd numerous complaints from ppl who are trying to register as members. Either they cannot get into the website or they get replies from the website saying that…women are registered as students. In the first place there’s no category called student membership. You’re either an ordinary member who can vote, or you’re an associate member who cannot vote. So we really don’t know what’s happening. And when we asked the website host company for further info, we’re told that we cannot ask them for info becos they only will communicate with either Constance Singam or Tanli(??) who is no longer with Aware, or Joanna Wong which is the PR asst. So there’s no recognition of us, either the President, the VP, or any of the new exco members.
There’s also an issue of the bandwidth. When we checked further why there was difficulty in accessing the website, we were told that the bandwidth was only 5 gigabytes. And that’s quite ridiculous for an association like Aware. And becos of that, the website was down from 18 Apr to 19 Apr. And then the website, the bandwidth was increased. So these are some of the instances when we try very hard to do our work & yet we’re hampered from doing so. Thank you.
Members of the press, we’ve given you brief statements of experiences working with Aware for the last 3 and a half weeks. And the next point, what we want to do is that Josie will address to tell you more about what is Aware today.
Josie Lau: Now what’s with Aware today? What does it stand for? Frankly not many ppl know. Because it’s been kept to such a small group of ppl. As of end of last Dec it was only about some 260 plus ppl. Now you’re wondering why Dr Thio Su Mien is here today. I think I will leave it to her to tell you her perspective of what’s going on with Aware.
Thio Su Mien: Good evening. I’m here as feminist mentor to women in the workplace. In the last 10 yrs I’ve been encouraging(??) women so that they become, released into society, to contribute to society. And it’s not an easy task to get women becos of the work balance to contribute. Having found this group of women, quite disparate group, becos I teach all over Spore & I counsel all over Spore & training ppl and I was able to…system in… I’m outraged. I’m absolutely outraged that very group of women take time off to contribute to society they get this kind of ferocious attack. I don’t understand. I don’t understand what has come of our ppl. In my counselling practice I find that many of our young men & women are… They’re very wounded, they’re very hurt. And there’s this rage that’s in them… But I never expected the degree & the level of attack of ppl which has served the community. So I’m just wondering what is the cause of this ferocity in attacking ppl. And I believe that it’s caused…that there is an agenda in Aware. Aware was formed 26 years ago by my friends, my contemporaries. And it’s done great work in so many areas. And in 1998(??), membership was about 700 odd, which was very well. Suddenly in 2006 it sort of declined; 2007, it declined to 200 odd ppl. And in 2008 there was an AGM where they sought to introduce to give men the vote in a women’s orgn where the objective is to represent all the women of Spore & not a small proportion of women. And you know that women form about 50% of our population. So we must focus our attention on promotion of the rights of women. To my horror I found that they want to introduce men into a women’s society. And the very strange thing was that at that meeting there were only 25(??) members who turned up at that meeting – AGM 2008. So I started looking into the affairs of Aware to see what’s happening to this orgn which my friends hv set up. And not only hv they set it up and my name is here, one of the women we honoured, becos I was a pioneer feminist. I was first law dean. Subsequent years, probably a female, woman who runs one of the largest law firms in Spore. But I sit on the boards of many public listed companies. I was also at one time a member of the Asian Devt Board tribunal. And I was also judge of the World Bank. I served it for 8 yrs and retired as senior VP of the World Bank administrative tribunal…with some standing to speak about this because in Cedaw this is this thing about promoting women into positions of leadership. And under…there is this 30 to 35% rule which I thought, wow, we hv a legal document whereby we can promote the cause of women, bring all the young women into leadership positions. But with the economic crisis there’s also this desire to help those who are disadvantaged. When women & men are retrenched, we want to make sure that not women are retrenched. There needs to be an even hand in this. So there are many many issues that we need to look to. And I find to my dismay that Aware seems to be only very interested on…and the advancement of homosexuality, which is a man’s issue and how it came under Aware is quite covert. …when Aware sponsored the film Spider Lilies. Spider Lilies is a film by 2 lesbians who fell in love. One is a tattooist and the only one is a virtual sex worker. When a parent saw this film… He wrote to Today and he asked why is Aware showing this film becos he’s got a teenage daughter. I think it really troubled him. And lo and behold…is that this is part of a comprehensive sexual education. So then it became kind of impt that they shud know what is in this prog. And this prog is already in schools, 30 schools whereby they are using this prog. But from what she said, the suggestion is that in this prog, young girls from 12 to 18 are taught that it’s ok to experiment with each other. And this is something which…parents in Spore. Are we going to hv an entire…of lesbians? I hv nothing against lesbians or homosexuals personally. On a personal front, I’ve given ministered, I’ve counselled them. So you need to understand I’m not talking about… They are in pain. And very often…where you hv abusive fathers, they do things with their daughters and the daughters revolt, rebel against society. We understand this is what it’s all about. It’s the people, the pain of people…
…It’s the people, the pain of people, the woundedness(??) of people and all this is not, you know, it brings out a reach(??). So if you need proof that Aware has actually moved to…you have this male sexual programmes and workshops which was inducted under the auspices of Aware in 2008 by a Finnish activist and he was talking about the sensitivity, how…about sensitivity, sexual…and so on. Now, Finland has a law. I think you need to know this…law is now…should we have state-funded artificial insemination for women… So this is under discussion, I do not know whether they passed this into law. So these are issues, are you for or not, for homosexualism and… The only question is what are we talking about? Are we talking about same-sex marriage? Are we talking about…taxpayers’ monies abused…you could say a man and woman, they can go for…for whatever you call it, so what about us? So I think this whole thing we need to discuss it, bring it up openly and discuss in a different time. So I believe that…focus which is like…set up by my friends that they will go back to look after the majority, all women, all women of Singapore…all the women. So my…is that can we refocus on the excellent objectives of Aware? Go back to its original purpose for it…for it being an NGO? So I leave that because I think I’ve just raised a comment.
Okay. Thank you, Su Mien.
We move to the third point: What this Aware Exco aim to do?
Again, in my last interview, I said Aware has lost its focus but I think I was being very polite when I said that. It has really not lost its focus but I think it has gone further than that, much, much further than that. It has now become a single-objective organisation. So that’s what the new team is here to do: we want to bring Aware back to its original very noble objective which is to represent all women, to advance their cause, all women whatever religion and race in areas such as professional development, their private life, their health and Singapore does have an Asian population. We need to look at the ageism, all the problems. Look at women who have some slight diabetes the minute they hit certain age, their insurance premium no longer make any sense for them. So we should be pushing those cause and I think with almost 50 per cent of our population in Singapore being women we really have to refocus back on our bread and butter issue where everyday women on the street cares about. So, I think we want, we are really serious about getting started on our work but we haven’t been able to do so for the last three weeks and I hope from this press conference the new team can start to work seriously on how we could bring this association to a higher level of recognition amongst the Singaporean woman.
Thank you, Josie. Right now, we’ll give 30 minutes to the media to ask more questions. You have answered some and then when you’re going to ask a question, please go to the mike and introduce yourself, your name and the paper or the media that you’re representing.
Sumiko?
Q: I’m Sumiko from Straits Times.
Q: Hi…lesbian event for Aware…that Aware had supported…
Lesbianism…homosexual…men as well…I think latest post amendments, constitutional amendments, it is proposed to give men the vote. It is also proposed to give women to vote and what is very bizarre, it wants to get teenagers to vote. But for teenagers join Aware, they have to get parental consent. We thought it’s very odd. So you are a woman’s organisation. Normally membership is required…ordinary members are allowed to vote and associate members who did not qualify but we wish to encourage. So there is this sudden shift to give men the vote. Why? Are the men masquerading? Is the homosexual activist men coming under the umbrella of Aware? So if you look inside of their materials, the language now is always men and women, men and women.
Yes, because we’re inclusive.
Yes.
What do you mean by inclusive? Don’t throw words at me. This is a woman’s organisation. We should concentrate on the position. Of course when we intereact, let’s say you organise a forum on discrimination of women in a place of work, you certainly would like to have men participate but we don’t need to prove that everything we do it must be in the objectives. Now, it is in our objectives when it is lesbianism that you want to encourage, they could form a separate organisation and if the men want to push the homosexual agenda, they can form their own organisation. But this is for women. Fifty per cent of the population of Singapore are women and we are interested in advancing the cause of women in the political, economic and social spheres. We have done reasonably well in the sphere of education and public health maybe but there are areas like politics and civil service where the women have got their…because in Cedaw,, which is the convention that (a) seek the elimination of discrimination, it’s written…which Singapore is fine. It says that all nations which have signed Cedaw should try to get to a level of 30 per cent or 55 per cent of women in… So this to me would inspire those to know that they can fulfil their potential. You know, in my times a long time ago, because meritocracy, I’m grateful that at this age I’m able to…even…when I passed the law school, I was the first batch of students and the current Chief Justice Chan Sek Kiong and Professor Tommy Koh who is obviously ambassador-at-large… So no quarters were given, no quarters…us four were great friends. But, you know, when I applied a job in university, it was special scholarship to train me…scholarship to get equally qualified, then you do your masters which incidentally happens to be of equality before the law, I come full circle and one, when I go to Harvard and planned to get my LLM. So the Vice Chancellor was very upset when was name was proposed because he said… Are you sure you want her? You know, she’s going to get married. I think she will not do the job. And I’m grateful that the Law Dean at that time, Mr Wong Long Tan was willing to let me have a go at that. If I served…worked up my…and worked up my…never was an issue. But there was a type of discrimination and also I think even in younger generation… When girls applied for scholarships, he will say, why don’t you do English or history or arts, don’t do law. We want the law reserved, the law scholarships to be reserved for men. So there is this…discrimination. But my own line, I look at… and I would like young ladies of today to have type of probably an environment where they could rise. We want more Lim Hwee Huas, we want more Chan Heng Chees, all these women who inspire us.
So can I clarify that your evidence of Aware promoting homsexuality and lesbianism is down to the fact that you want to give men…
Well, there must be more to it.
Okay, I can add. Now late last year Aware set up a new subcommittee called Singles in Singapore and I’m reading from what…has written to the previous year’s Exco. Okay, the introduction, Aware, as you understand, Aware is a research advocacy association, so we want to advocate for more rights for singles and I…it is no secret that Singapore…and public policies actively discriminate against the state of singlehood. There is a perceived demonisation of a single person and the problem of singles is usually discussed in terms of a single female. There are other categories of singles that they want to explore and find out what are the challenges are, issues particular to single men and in also our previous Exco meeting, because the coordinator of the singles was chaired by Chew EeJin, at the end of the, at the end of the previous year, a new Exco has been appointed and all subcommittee…and new coordinators will be appointed and I have also expressed that I’m a single and I have a very single experience, I’m a single entrepreneur, I have taken care of my aged parents and I know the difficulties and challenges that singles face. So I will express that I also want to be a coordinator. So this huge fight and in one of the Exco meetings, Ee Jin expressed that one of the key areas that they want to look into is to give equal benefits, is to come up with research and data to present to the government, to give equal benefits to singles who want to adopt children. So again…
I didn’t say that, I didn’t say that. Okay? You haven’t even heard my presentation which I’ve prepared tonight. You have challenged me on something you know nothing about.
It was discussed in Exco and it is I believe all the Exco members heard it.
…Okay. There is only the men, the word men appears only at one time in this complete presentation out of our good conscience that we should not ignore men. But the entire research is on women.
Ee Jin, Aware is an association for women. The men do not need the women to fight for them, to fight for more rights or to have state-funded artificial insemination or other benefits.
…we want to, we are actually quite thrilled that you have taken this incredible ludicrous conclusions to the kind of work…
We have here an e-mail which is a paper that you presented to the previous year’s Exco members. So Sumiko wants it…
…everybody…
Thank you very much. I think this…we move on to another question. Does anybody else have another question?
She has something to say.
Jenica. In answer to this question?
Yes.
Okay.
The question is how do we know Aware has moved towards a very focused homosexual agenda. Before I start, I just want to show you the data that I got. This is the data that…I reported to the police, I think the police…it was very tough and it came from someone who is a gay, very against me. Why? I only got elected into a woman’s association, right? So if I have not…why is everybody pulling out a letter which I wrote two years ago on 377A. I wrote many articles. You can check Straits Times…
Reporters have e-mailed or…
…It’s a letter posted to the Aware centre. It’s posted by e-mail.
Was it handwritten?
It was typed. It’s now handed over to the police…
You said it was a…but…
The words are taken are extracts from the letter. In the letter the person profess himself as a gay.
But what has got to do with Aware…?
Ya. My question…
This is the question.
…That is what my point. I joined Aware. Okay, I want to put a very positive point across and I want to represent the entire Exco, the new members that got elected… At the AGM, none of us talked about our religious…although there was a lot of press, none of us talked about gay, lesbianism, none of us. But we were questioned by the Old Guards in the elections, please state whether you’re anti-gay or anti-lesbian. That was a question that was insisted by the Old Guards to be answered by all the persons who run for elections and was only turned down because someone else from the floor protested that is not constitutional because Aware is supposed to be all-encompassing.
And it’s irrelevant.
Why this great obsession with lesbiansm, homosexuality.
Perhaps each of you have one?
I would like to go on to a few points because of all this intense episodes, I went to do some further research of what Aware has done over the past few years. Besides…which was one thing, the other point was the comprehensive sexual education. This has been reached out to 30 schools. And in the schools they taught them things like, okay, homosexualism… Now, I’m not sure about you but if I’m a…I’m very concerned teaching such things to…18 years old. I’m not sure whether parents know what their children are learning. In addition to these points, we talked about Mother’s Day. What is your idea of Mother’s Day. If Aware is an all-encompassing organisation, how did we celebrate Mother’s Day? In 2006, Aware celebrated Mother’s Day by inviting lesbian-friendly mothers and lesbian bosses to talk about their experience. When Aware wanted to conduct health education courses, they wanted to warn women about HIV, they invited Alex Au, the once famous homosexual activist from Yawning Bread to talk about HIV. Now in addition last year 2008 Constance Singam spoke of membership to…in the month of July 2008 and she also publicised in Aware newsletter that she’s going to talk to SG Butterfly which is a group of Queer Women, travestite women. Now, I’ve got a lot of other little points but this is what I found out and this came out a lot because of the intense, this intense period which I went through. It’s very difficult for me. I never thought that a letter which I wrote two years ago about just one event – 377A – could have such repercussions. Why this obsession about whoever who talk to the press? I did not talk to the press. I don’t know who talked to the press. In the press, it was mentioned that one of the Old Guards, Nancy Griffins, said that in the AGM I was asked “Do you accept homosexuality?” And I said, “No”. Now this is false. We are now getting the audio transcript churned out but in no way in the AGM did I say anything about homosexuality, no way. Why did you discredit me? And also, there was also a posting that says that I posted to trevvy.com, a homosexual theme website. I didn’t post to trevvy.com. So I’m very puzzled why the press has picked up this slant when all I did was run a woman’s association.
Sorry, you have a question?
Can I just add, Sandra, before you say? My question is also to the media. Why is SPH newspaper, you know, pushing the envelope of our anti-gay story when they knew Exco was elected? And the stories were all one-sided and full of inaccuracies. How many of the people attended the AGM? At the AGM we were grilled on our religious affiliation. We were asked if we were anti-gay and we were told that because you are a Christian, you do not embrace the culture and the ethos of Aware. Do I need to say more?
Sandra.
Sandra Davie: Ya. Hi, I’m Sandra Davie, journalist with the Straits Times. I’m curious, Dr Thio, what’s your relationship to the Exco members? And are you speaking in your personal capacity or are you speaking on behalf of the Exco? It’s not very clear to me.
Dr Thio: Okay, can I make it clear? I’m speaking on behalf of my personal capacity and I wanted to come because I feel kind of responsible for these difficulties they’re going through because I was the one who mentored them over the years different groups of people. You know, I’m talking about 10 years kind of thing. So I go round Singapore teaching, counselling. So when all this problem about CSE and the…came forth, and it’s not that I read parent’s letter, then I started thinking: Hey, parents, you better know what’s happening, you better know what’s happening. And then lots of things cropped up. If you have time go and have a look at it. It is in the section of 10 to 14 years old and it’s a very…of the mind. But anyway, I talked to parents, I said, you better do something about this, otherwise your daughter will come back and say, “Mum, I want to marry my girlfriend” or your son will say, “Dad, I want to marry my boyfriend.” So they kind of got flabbergasted, what nonsense are they talking. So you know, I teach…well, maybe should go to the website, educate yourself what’s happening. It’s happening in the US, in Europe, there’s nothing new. It’s going on five, six, seven, eight, nine years. So what is happening in society is that we are redefining marriage, we are redefining families. So I’m a concerned citizen and if people are so ignorant, I think I want to teach them.
Sandra Davie: So, so it’s your opinion, your personal opinion. But you said that you mentored these women. Can I know where and?
Dr Thio: Oh, all over Singapore. I teach…
Dr Thio : …I’m a concerned citizen & if people are so ignorant, I think I want to teach them.
Q: Ok, so it’s your opinion, your personal opinion. But you said that you mentored these women. Can I know where &.
Dr Thio: Oh, all over Spore. I teach all over the place. Like Maureen, I never saw her until recently when somebody brought her becos I said you guys, you better pay some attention to what’s happening to your children. Josie of cos is kind of related to me but she, you know, I had to nag her over the years, can you spend, you know, I know you got lots of problem(??), family, you got a job, why don’t you also give a little of yourself & ok, it can go on but.
Lois: Yes, we’d like to give the opportunity to other media. There are 2 from the ST already.
Q: I’m from LHZB. I’ve 2 qns. Just now…you mentioned that…related to Josie…can we just clarify how you hv known her over the years? How hv you known Josie over the yrs…
Dr Thio: Oh, she’s married to Dr Chin who received the death threat. Alan Chin is my nephew.
Q: Alan Chin is your nephew.
Dr Thio: Yes. And he also had a death threat. And my family also has death threat. Very interesting, is it? When you speak up against these issues, you get death threats. So my qn is, why are we getting death threats? You shud go & explore that & give an answer. Why? Why is it Jenica gets a death threat?
Q: And my 2nd qn is it seems that the new exco & the old exco seems to hv, even before the AGM, you hv differing views & why didn’t the new exco, why…set up a new org. all by itself, why did you go up & stand for running in the new exco & in the media’s words, take over…
Jenica: I just want to get the point: we are proposed, we are seconded & we are duly elected into the exco. Aware is a woman’s org. We are women. We came to join women & I don’t think I hv to defend that.
Now if there is a very small proportion of old guards who are very upset with certain directions, I think they hv to respect the fact that we hv been elected in, we are the new exco & we do want to make changes. In fact, if you come to our EGM, we will share more about our plans.
: I guess we hv to be direct about this. No point, you know, beating around the bush.
Maureen: As Dr Thio has mentioned, I don’t know Su Mien, I don’t know Josie & I don’t know the rest. I came into the picture becos somebody told me that, you know, oh, something is happening that affects children & I am a mother of 3 children. So I’m concerned that going fwd, what are the children going to be taught on, as part of the so-called comprehensive sexual education. I don’t want my children to say that oh, it’s all right to go & experiment with homosexuality, to experiment with anal sex, ya, to experiment with virginity or the pill or even pre-marital sex. I’m concerned. I’m a parent. It’s shocking. How can this be done in our Spore society? Most of us are conservative. I am not afraid to say I’m a conservative person. I go to church, yes, but that is my religious belief. My belief system, my religious belief is personal to me. I did not go to Aware to push my religious belief. I went to Aware becos I was concerned about what was happening with the CSE and in particular, I went to the Aware AGM becos there were proposals to give the vote to men, to give the vote to foreign women, to give the vote to teenagers bet. 15 to 18 yrs old. Why are these being proposed in a woman’s org? Why is the objective of it? All these pple, the men, the foreign women, the teenagers are already in the so-called inclusive, all-inclusive membership as associate members. Why is there a need to go a step further & give them votes & give them the ability to stand as officer bearers? I simply don’t understand that. And it’s becos of this, I went to the Aware AGM to do that & when the elections came up, there was a position for Hon. Treasury. You hv seen my CV. I’ve been in the finance line for 30 yrs. It was a position which I felt I cud contribute & therefore I stood for election. And that was how it came about.
Q: This qn is for Dr Thio…you said you were concerned about happenings at Aware over time. Did you then maybe, just out of curiosity, maybe mobilise members to join via email or whatever before the AGM…
Dr Thio: Yes, I’m sure you think it’s so easy. It’s like extracting teeth to get pple interested in things of public affairs becos Sporeans are very passive…so you tell them, ya, it’s like, you know, like a glass over the eyes. So of cos I, as I said, I work with different(??) groups so I sent them emails & explain & I teach(??). If they are not interested, there’s nothing I can do about that. But I think the time has come. You see, if you know what’s happening in the US & what’s happening in Europe, you know, there was a case of a father who went to school & said to the principal, when you teach on homosexuality or anal sex in the classroom, can you pls take my 6-yr-old son out of the classroom. Like Spore, you know, if you teach certain race(??), then the Muslim child will go out & so on. So they hv the same kind of policy. So what happened in that case of David Parker was that he went to see the principal by appointment & said, can you give me an assurance that my 6-yr-old son will be taken out? The principal said no. So they called the superintendent. He said no. We will not give you the assurance. So he said, in that case, I will sit here. So they called the police & he was arrested and he was fined. Then what happened was that the 6-yr-old boy was accosted by a group of 6-yr-old boys in that school becos many of the parents were homosexual parents and they took the 6-yr-old boy to the back & they beat him up. This is very frightening. And I think it’s come here. With the death threats that we are getting. Just becos you speak on this issue, you get a death threat. You get a threat. Even before this, a university lecturer who wrote on a piece on equal protection of the law, purely technical pc of article, it’s available now. You know what happened to her? Various pple, and I don’t want to name them, various pple wrote in to the law faculty & said, you hv a dim wit here, intellectual midget. All of us are not coming to NUS becos you hv such poor quality lecturers.
This is what they do in America. If you read, you will find these are the tactics approach(??) & it’s happened to our own pple.
Q: We need to ask, why didn’t you run for a position in the exco since you are…
Q: Dr Thio, are you part of the new exco?
Dr Thio: No.
: No.
Q: Ya, so why didn’t you run for a position in the exco? Why get other pple…you hv such strong views about everything & you are speaking on their behalf.
Dr Thio: No, I’m not speaking. I’m speaking on my behalf.

Maureen: I also want to make a pt clear. We are not puppets of Dr Thio. We are mature, thinking professional women. We join Aware to stand for a cause that we believe in, ya, & it is not easy for us to just listen to Dr Thio & say we go. We hv to search ourselves & make decisions for ourselves.
Q: Sure, Maureen, I accept that…except that I still don’t understand why she didn’t run for an exco position, someone with her qualifications & background?
Lois: Honestly, Aware is too small an outfit for her & it’s for newbies like us.
Q: But…orchestrated, plan it before hand? She said she sent emails to you…
Lois: Oh, ya, ya.
Q: Is Dr Thio like the organiser?
Josie: I will place on record, no.

Dr Thio: No, no, it depends on what you mean by organiser. Actually it’s kind of flattering, in a way. Ok, what I did was I’m frustrated, you see. I talk to pple, they got glass eyes, oh, ok, live & let live so not my responsibility. And they hv children & they don’t care. So almost like they’re quite blind. So I nag them, I talk to them, I talk to the husband &…So what I did is that I put down, collect info, I send to different pple. So it’s up to you. You want to join? You go & join. If you want me to help you, I will help you. So I’m quite happy with that becos you see, you suddenly discovered that networking helps, that if there’s a view we want, we network thru’ the email. And I certainly hv come out from the Jurassic Park becos I’m quite proficient with the email & I think it is an efficient way of educating pple.
Q: …Dr Thio, are you implying that all this is sort of, it’s planned, that…you hv thought of it for a long time, that you hv planned all this?
Dr Thio: No, no. No, no, I have better things to do than this, ok? I hv to earn a living, I work & I do a lot of other things.
But the idea came I think round about when this AGM took place & there were 29(??) pple. So I said, what’s happening.
Q: 2008.
Dr Thio: I think it was 2008. Then I was.
: Ok, ya, I think it’s enough. Wait, wait…impt, yes….
Lois: I know that (o-o) wants to know what is Dr Thio’s role. The reason why we called this press conf is to address the issues that you hv. There’s been lots of allegations that the group, anti-gay & Christians & Dr Thio, so we hv nothing to hide & this is the reason why we are here &.
Q: Lois, I’m sorry. You haven’t answered a lot of qns…
Lois: You know, this is such a, the Aware saga is long-drawn & it has raised lots of qns & I think there are also qns that the media need to ask yourself. Why the strong, unusually strong reaction…
: Lois.
: Let her ask…
Lois: Ok, to a group of pple who hv taken over, I mean, become elected into a new c’ttee. Ok, Sandra, my president has asked that you be allowed to ask…
Josie: I think if you hv qns, this is the platform for you to address.
Q: Ya, ok, I think part of the maybe suspicion or negative comments you’re getting comes from pple feeling that this was a takeover, that it was orchestrated & so on. So naturally we want to know since Dr Thio said that she had known you all before, she had mentored you all & she had sent you all emails, or several pple emails asking whether they wud..
Josie: I will tell you my personal story, Sandra.
Q: Ya, and looks like she’s been thinking of this since last year, after the AGM so, you know, I’m not saying that she’s planning this takeover but on the other hand, it does look like she had a part to play in this event…
Josie: Let me share with you my story. Ok, I’ve been married to the family for 20 yrs. We meet occasionally once or twice a year, during Christmas, CNY. And she has been nagging me for the last 15, 20 yrs, are you doing something in the public, contributing back to the community? You hv such a good life. Everything, you’re jetsetting all the time. When, and I wasn’t ready. Ok, but now my kids are much older, I feel that it’s time for me to contribute & when last yr I personally was very very taken aback by the Spider Lilies premiere, as part of Aware’s premiere gala & that set me thinking: what actually is Aware doing with all this thing? And when the opportunity came & asked wud you like to serve or join Aware, she said I’ll put you in touch with somebody & that was how I got, I didn’t even get in touch, it was Claire Nazir who called me & she was looking for somebody to assist her in the area of marketing & that’s my area of expertise. And as it turned out, honestly, I did not join Aware thinking that there will definitely be a new exco. I just know that I’m joining aware & if I stand for election & got elected, this is the area where I think I can contribute.
Q: Ok, can I ask 2 qns pls. Fong Meng, from Today…the death threats that you guys received…unfortunate & you’re right, it shudn’t be happening but to you at this pt, looking back at what’s happened, do you think that as a group, the new Aware exco has made a mistake which is obviously you felt very strongly about the issue & there were plans to come in & to serve in this way. So qn No. 1, at the pt when pple were asking, was there an agenda, had the new exco had come out even before the AGM or even immediately after the AGM to say, yes, this is how we…issues, it is when the answers were not given, the integrity of the exco, the new exco came into qn. So do you think you cud hv done something to at least, that’s one qn. The other qn, Josie, is about DBS becos DBS has said that the afternoon of the mtg before you were elected as president, you had indicated you planned to stand for election as president. But later on at the Talking Pt programme…
cont. in ‘traware4’
…But later on at the Talking Point programme you said that you were the last…standing… Can you clarify this?
Ya, I’ll clarify that second part first. Okay. I’m bound by my employment contract not to say anything between me and DBS, so I hope you’ll respect that. Now, the Constitution is such that when the president resigns, you can only elect from one of the six ordinary Exco members and I’m one of them. And there is always a possibility that I could be, I don’t know. Okay. And that night, the truth of the matter was as we went round the table, we asked everybody: If somebody before me said that she would take it, I would have gladly given it to her because I did not come into Aware to be president, I was just joining Aware to help out with fund-raising and marketing. So when I spoke to my bosses about me being an Exco member because there were already press articles on the 10th of April, which was a Good Friday, and I had to tell my boss that “Oh, I’m an Exco member” and that was it. And then subsequently when it became apparent that it could be one of the six, any of the six and I said I might as well put it in in an application form. But anyway, this is part of my employment, I don’t want to talk about it and please, it’s off the record. So that night when we had the meeting, even before the meeting started, there were already press outside waiting. Can you imagine if we had walked out and no president elected, the press will say, “Look, this new Exco has no leadership, no one is willing to take over the baton and everything.” And that night I had to bite the bullet and go. We went round the meeting, I was the sixth person to be asked. From the No. 1 to the 5th, nobody wanted.
Can I ask your husband’s role…?
My husband’s? He’s just my husband and he’s supportive of whatever I do and I never hide the fact that he is my husband. At the AGM itself he was the only man and he said, “I’m here to support my wife.” So it’s a very open thing.
He’s an associate member.
But Dr Thio was saying that, you know, actually shouldn’t have males.
No, but he’s not there to vote.
Okay. Now let me clarify. Aware shouldn’t have males as ordinary members which means they can vote. Aware always have males as associate members. She means that they don’t have voting rights.
So this is something that we want the press to maybe understand, the whole issue is about the constitutional amendments which will be advanced at the AGM. Right now the whole story is all about anti-gay, Christian fundamentalists but the whole issue that we want to address is about the proposed amendments to give voting rights to men. Men are already associate members but they have no voting rights. We want to extend voting rights to expatriate women so that they can dictate on what’s happening in Singapore and also we want to give voting rights to minors, teenagers from 15 to 18 years old. So we are questioning the Exco members of Aware, the old previous Exco members of Aware or the leadership, Old Guards, what is your rationale because Aware is a women’s organisation. If they have an alternative agenda, then perhaps they should set up another outfit and be open about it and pursue their agenda and lobby for support and pressure the government but do not use Aware which is an organisation for women to push their alternative agenda.
Can I add something? The proposal to allow men to vote was actually put up at the 2008 AGM and that AGM was attended by 30 plus people. That proposal was thrown out at the 2008 AGM. And yet it was put up again for the 2009 AGM. The question is who asked for this to be put up again? And why is it being considered again when by a majority it was thrown out at the previous AGM? The other thing I also want to mention is we went there, we stood for election. Under the Constitution, as long as one ordinary member propose and another ordinary member second, anybody who is an ordinary member can stand for election. Whether we would get elected or not depends on all the ordinary members who turned up for the AGM. Dr Thio has said that it is an uphill task to get Singapore women involved in things like that. Singapore women like me, I’m only interested in raising a family, paying off my mortgage, making sure that I can live in Singapore which has got increasing costs. But this Aware is something that caught my attention because I saw an article in the papers where Constance Singam mentioned what are the objectives of Aware. So actually it was the various, the objectives of Aware is a cause for women. But when I heard, when I learned about the developments, the recent programmes like the Comprehensive Sexual Education which is going into our schools, reaching out to girls who are between 12 to 18 years old, it shocked me and it was something which I wanted to find out more about and that was one reason why I signed up to be an Aware ordinary member to attend the AGM, first of all, to understand the original objective that Constance Singam talked about and what is the rationale behind all this CSE programmes and spider release and so on and really what I was puzzled about, why is there a need to allow men to vote. And that was the reason I attended the AGM. And I felt that if I could contribute to society, yes, why not I stand for election. Besides I have counselling experience and so on and I’m also helping out in neighbourhood schools. I have seen how Singapore women are discriminated against. In marriages, I have counselled women who have marital problems and some of them don’t even know that they have rights under the Women’s Charter. And the children in the neighbourhood schools, I find that many of them come from broken homes. Parents are in prison, you know, and the single mother is actually going through a really tough time in Singapore and therefore it’s something which I want also to be able to serve and by joining Aware that is also one of the things. And that’s how I stood for election. Whether I could be elected in or not is really a matter of who turn up for the annual general meeting. So if the Old Guard is really that interested, why didn’t they turn up at the annual general meeting?
…no comments about…relationship…off the record…very clear, but since DBS has gone on record to say that you did inform them and on Talking Point I said that…you were last woman standing, can we have that on record?
I did not say that. She said that.
No, you said that there were six names and you felt that there was a possibility and you informed the facts. So did you tell… This is a matter of clarification because there’s one rumour that’s going round that you had lied. Josie, could you clarify that on record, please?
I must clarify since I’m not bounded by a contract. I think I can anwer in my conscience that there was only one person who stood up to run… It was really wonders.
No, her question is did I even tell my bank.
Okay. I just want to say I’ve also worked in big corporates. Big corporates have got many terms and conditions and usually if you are taking on a position that it in addition to your full-time job, you’re required to seek clearance from your employer. When it comes to volunteer work with an NGO, sometimes the employees may not be very clear as to whether they need to get clearance, especially when you don’t get any rumuneration and it’s really a matter of your own personal time, your volunteer personal time and really your own interest. So what happened if you are going to say that there was anything done wrong by Josie, it was just that she did not submit an application before she stood for election at the Executive Committee. And actually now she has clarified…
You see, I’m put in a very difficult position because…
I was referring to the second time.
Can we deal with it stage by stage? Let Josie say.
I hope you understand I’m in a very difficult position. I’m not allowed to say anything that happened that night.
So don’t speak.
Okay, I will take it from there. Okay, any way, Josie put in an application to stand as an Exco member and what was told to her is fine, okay. Then Claire resigned, which means that we have to name a new president. And Josie put in an application to say that she may be elected as, she may be named as the president but at that time nobody knew who was going to be named the president to replace Claire. So we all set the date for the second Exco meeting on 15th April, we all went there. At 6.15 I got a call from Josie and Josie said, “Look, I have a problem with corporate clearance. It’s 6.15. Our Exco meeting is at 7.00.” And before we even went into the Aware Centre, reporters were all over the place. They were pushing us and there’s really no space given to us. If we had gone into the Exco meeting and we came out and said, “Sorry, nobody wants to be president,” imagine what that would have done to Aware as a women’s organisation. They will say these women don’t know what they are doing, they can’t even organise themselves. So it is to Josie’s credit that she took up the baton, she stepped up to the task and took it. And what was in her mind? Probably it could be something that she could work out with her employer. And then to her horror, DBS just unilaterally made an announcement to say that she has breached her contract, she has gone against instructions. Okay, sorry, I don’t want to jeopardise Josie’s position.
Can I just clarify…sum up what we have here? So Josie, you did tell the bank that there’s a possibility that by evening you would become president but on Talking Point when you said that there was no plan, you were the last woman standing and you gave in. That was because you were bound by the conditions set by your bank, you can’t talk about it? I mean they’re trying to understand, it’s because they’re writing the story and this could go several places, they just need to get the points clarified. Thanks.
Okay, this will be the last question because I’ve just received the latest update. This thing has grown out of proportion. Okay, the police are there right now at Aware Centre and Shultz Lee, our centre manager is raving and is shouting and just refusing to let the vendor replace the security locks. And the Old Guards, many of the Old Guards are on their way there. I believe there’s going to be a fight. So I think, I’m so sorry, I think we have to call, make an end to the press conference…
Can a couple of you please stay back because we have certain questions which…and in the interest of transparency we really need…we don’t want to be accused of misquoting or not, giving a one-sided story. I have some related questions which I think are very important. Radha from the Straits Times by the way, so I’ll be very grateful if a couple of you at least can stay back and address some questions. And yes, we will also want to know what’s happening at the Aware office. I’m told your friends want to change locks and I just got an SMS and that is a third question.
This access security matter was discussed at the first Executive Committee meeting chaired by Claire. Basically we went to look at the premises. There are padlocks on all the doors and there’s no proximity card system and so on. So we have concerns about the security about the place. And from information, the staff members each hold many keys. Altogether there are 60 keys to the premises floating around among the staff. So it was really a matter of concern for the new Executive Committee as to the security of the place. So we actually talked about making sure that the premises are well secured. And as you know, it is common nowadays for offices to install proximity card system so that we know who goes in and out of the premises and to secure the rest of the premises.
Okay. That’s fine. Thank you.
(cont’d in ‘traware5′)
Q: Ok, that’s fine, thank you. Josie, I want you to clarify 1 thing. Right at the beginning in your opening statement, you mentioned that
Aware was a single objective orgn. Were you referring to it being pro-lesbian & gay and that was its only agenda over the past few yrs?
Josie Lau: Well, I meant that, ok you shouldn’t put specific into a general statement I make. When I said single it means it has become quite a focus for them.
Q: What has become a focus?
The homosexual agenda has become quite a focused…
Q: So when you said it was a single objective orgn, you implied or you meant that they were focusing only on homosexual issues…
A: No, that’s what I said, you must not make specific of a general statement I make.
Q: I don’t quite understand that. If you can explain. I hv a 2nd qn if you attempt that 1st. I think my colleague she was trying to ask…and all of you, many of you hv said that becos of the sexuality prog and as being mothers you want to come in Aware do something about it. Why do you not set your own group? Why do you hv to come into Aware & fix what you perceive to be a wrong becos I’m sure there are many mothers in Spore & I’m one of them who believe that in an inclusive society it’s okay to hv sexuality progs that keep, let children hv an open mind, particularly becos MOE also runs many other sexuality progs as well as children’s society.
A: I think there’s definitely diversity of views on homosexuality but there’s one unity of views, that is pls be honest, do not fudge the message, do not operate under deception. No smokescreen. If this is the key agenda, come out & say it but don’t fudge it under the constitution which is to push for the cause of all women in Spore, all women. And if you want you can take a look at the constitution. It is for all women. And I think I wud like Maureen to talk a little bit more about Cedaw.
Q: Sorry, my other qn about why do you not set up your own…
A: I think I’ve already answered that.
Can I explain pls? You see Aware has always been involved in doing the shadow report for Cedaw which is submtted to the United Nations cttee. There’s a report which is submitted by the Spore govt. And that Cedaw report is being chaired on the nat. level by Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon. There’s a shadow report that’s submitted by advocacy groups. So in Spore that shadow report is actually an area where Aware is very active in. And Aware works closely with the SCWO. Actually they come under the umbrella of SCWO. And what happened is in fact in the preparation, during the preparation of the shadow report, there were certain clear differences that surfaced btwn the SCWO & Aware. And there was even talk of submitting 2 shadow reports – 1 by the SCWO & 1 by Aware. And that is something which we’ve been trying to gain access to. We’ve asked as the new exco to hv a look at the shadow report that has been prepared by Aware. And in the president’s report tabled at the AGM on 28 March, Constance Singam in her report said that the shadow report shud be completed by March 2008, which is 1 yr ago. So when we asked to see the report, we were told oh there’s a typo error in the president’s report. It shud be 2009. And now we’re into April. And when we asked for the report, we were referred to Braema. And Braema says it’s still not ready. So we said, fine, if it’s not ready, can you give us the working drafts. And instead of replying to us, she went to the press & said that we wanted to remove her & so on. Up till today we’ve not yet appointed the coordinator for the Cedaw cttee. Under the constitution, the sub-cttee actually were under the orginal, under the old exco by effluxion of time ceased to exist, right? So that means basically new coordinators hv to be appointed or even reappointed by the new exco, okay. The normal process is the sub-cttee members will nominate their members but the approval still rests with the exco.
Q: So am I correct to assume you all took Aware to work more on Cedaw & Cedaw talks about constitutional guarantees for no discrimination against women, Cedaw talks about equality of Muslim women, Cedaw talks about more…you’re going to fight for the syariah laws to be changed…
A; Yes, we’re there for all women.
Q: So I take it that you chose Aware becos yes you’re right Aware was in charge of the Cedaw report. So you want to take up some of the causes that are enshrined in Cedaw, is that correct?
A: Yes, that’s correct.
Q: And that’s why you didn’t form your separate orgn.
A; We wud hv been happy to leave Aware to do the work which it was supposed to do. Our concern is that Aware appears to be being hijacked to another direction which is not the direction we believe is the original objective, the original noble objective of Aware, as stated in the constituion.
Q: Is it by coincidence that you belong to the same church…
A: Before I joined I didn’t even know Maureen. Before I joined I didn’t even know Lois.
Q: But you joined in 2007, right?
A: Ya I joined in 2007. So I didn’t know her. I only know her after I got elected.
Q: Basically we just want to clarify the church connection becos there’s been a lot of talk…
A: There is no church connection. The church is not at all involved in secular affairs.
Q: I’m not saying the church itself but the fact that you belong to the same church, did you know each other in church, did you come together & meet to say that on the day of the AGM you’re going to bus in a lot of ppl from your church or wherever to support you & get you…
A: No, the answer is no. We all attend church of our saviour. We joined the church at various different times. Before I joined the church I was a Buddhist. And then I joined new creation. And from new creation I went to… I don’t know any of these ppl until I got on to the cttee.
Q: A few weeks ago?
A; Yes. What happened was, yes we all attend the church. And really I only know Su Mien becos I was invited by one of the ppl who attended her Tanglin fellowship to attend a talk that was given by Su Mien. And that was when I first met her. But I dont move in her circles. I’m a working mother. I don’t move in her circles. And I don’t call Su Mien up. I don’t even know her phone, her mobile phone or her home no. until we got onto this cttee & really we, becos of all the problems we’re having, the death threats & so on, we went to our mentor to ask if she cud help us in what we’re trying to achieve. And that was only after we were appointed.
Q: You say that you want to go towards the changing of syariah law…
A: Not syariah law.
Q: We are there…
Q; Okay, another qn, sorry. Did Miss Thio personally becos you said that you don’t hv her contact no. So did she personally contact you guys?
A: No, as I mentioned I went for a talk which she was giving at her place. She has a regular Tanglin fellowship meeting which I don’t attend becos I hv my own cell group. The church has 4,000 members. We attend different svcs. And we basically hv our own cell group. My cell group does not include any of these ppl. And so that’s how we operate in the church environment. I got to know who she is when I attended the… Okay, just a correction on syariah law. We’re Christians. I’m sorry, I don’t know very much about syariah law. So to correct any misunderstanding, what I’m trying to say is that we’re there for all women, whether the woman is a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Christian, a free-thinker, we’re there for all regardless of race, language or religion. Thank you.
Q: Is it possible that the conspiracy that you’re trying to unearth…
A: We really hv to go to the Aware centre, big fight, the police are there, the Old Guard are there becos they resisted our attempt to change secuity, the lock. So this is our, my qn is why the unusually strong reaction. It’s something that, it’s a qn that begs to be asked & to be investigated further. And maybe the media might want to look at it from a different angle. The reason why we’re here is that we’re not dodging the press. We know that the media has been baying for blood, coming up with stories day after day and then even on one particular day someone counted that ST ran 10 pages on Aware. And Aware has never recd such high, much attention. So the reason we’re here is to answer your queries and about us being Christians, what we want to do &, okay, in the ST has also mentioned Dr Thio’s name. So we decided to just meet the press & let you, we try our best to answer your qns. So I think that is enough & maybe for ppl who want other qns we can always arrange another time.
Q: One, will any of you consider stepping down after all these death threats? Two, is the EOGM still going ahead on the 2nd? Three, how many members do you hv…
A: Ok, No. 1, whether any of us are going to step down, the answer is no. We hv been elected. We’ve been proposed, seconded & elected in a legitimate manner. And with what’s happening in fact it even gives us more reason to stay on becos we really want to know what’s happening and why is a contract staff like the centre manager preventing the executive cttee from doing its job by making sure that the premises are secure, and why are the Old Guard coming in to interfere? We’ve been elected through a process that is proper. We came in properly.
Ok, your 2nd qn is the EOGM is still going ahead on the 2nd. Yes, the EOGM will be going ahead on the 2nd of May as scheduled. The problem we hv is now that as of yesterday the membership has gone up to 880 and applications for membership are still coming in, and the place that we’ve booked for the event may not be able to accommodate these nos. So we’re actually now struggling, we’re trying to look for maybe another alternative venue where we can accommodate all members. As Josie has mentioned we want to hv an open dialogue with the members and that is the reason we’re calling the EGM. One, to deal with the proposed constitution which we cud not deal with at the 28th AGM becos we ran out of time. We had 20 members giving election speeches & so on. It took us three and a half hours.
I think…we just want to say that we hope that they’ve answered your qns. And I in turn also hv a qn to ask the media. I’d like to ask what is ST’s role in this story becos ppl like, you’ve quoted Margaret Thomas, Dana Lam, Braema, they were all ex-ST journalists. So what is ST’s role? Since we were asked what is our role, what is this Christian link becos we’re Christian and most of us come from Chuch of Saviour, and the media asked what is the role of the Church of Saviour, is it a ground for recruitment? Then I’d like to ask ST: are you playing a role in this Aware saga as well?Thank you very much, ladies & gentlemen.

I’m sorry. I know nothing about this press conference. I’m a member of the exco and…to be an exco meeting right now… got this call to say that some press conference… I’m an exco member, okay, and I meant to be some…announcement…because I meant to…presentation alongside…at this time. You led me to believe I meant to be presenting something to you with…exco right now.
I-Jin, we note your comments and I request that you take a seat.
Do I hv a right of reply as we make this on behalf of my association, this presentation?
I-Jin, this is internal matters btwn us. I think it’s best that we settle it outside and separately from the media.
How internal is it If I’ve been kept in the dark and Josie has not replied any of my e-mails?
I-Jin, the truth is that this was called very very late. If the press cud even verify that it was called at a very very late stage.
So why is it Caris is sitting…doesn’t even know about it?
But there are ppl in the office running the meeting right now, the vice-president.
But why does…even know about this?
I guess, ok, I-Jin, I guess the media has been wanting to hear from the new faces and this meeting is called to address all the questions the media hv about the new faces. And as you’re an Old Guard, and the Old Guard has had their field day giving the media stories upon stories & info which are totally & utterly inaccurate, so this is our chance to talk to the media. So I wud appreciate that you leave this room…
I hv not been part of hte Old Guard argument. I’ve been with you in the exco. Okay, I happen to be Old Guard or in a sense that I’m an old member but I think I was going to table at the meeting today that you address these qns to save us further embarrassment, okay. So I’m with you, that you shud make this, I’m all for this. I just don’t appreciate not being told.
I-Jin, if you’re for us in the interest of the exco, pls take a seat. Thank you.
Good evening, members of the media. We apologise for this late notice in calling this briefing but I appreciate everybody’s attendance. And we call this meeting in haste because we feel that we shud not delay any more in disclosing something very serious to the public about Aware. And in tonight’s briefing we will talk about exco experience with Old Guard, what is Aware today, what does this exco aim to do and interactions with the media. Before we move fwd, I’d like to introduce the members at this table: Josie Lau, our president. She does not need further introduction. To her right is Maureen Ong, who’s the honorary treasurer. To my right is Jenica Chua. She’s the honorary secretary. And at the right of the table is Dr Thio Su Mien. Dr Thio is a supporter of families. So I’d like to start right now by our President addressing exco’s experience with the Old Guard for the last 3 and a half weeks.
Josie Lau: Friends of the media, thank you for coming at such late last minute notice. I had said in my 1st & last intvw after being appointed as President of Aware that I did not get involved in Aware to be engaged in controversies. And so far I’ve kept a very stoic & dignified silence. But with the recent happenings of events, I’ve no choice, it left me no choice to break this silence & come out publicly to say what’s been happening. And this is actually something that cud hv been resolved internally btwn the Old Guard & the New Guard in a very polite and civil way. But that has not happened. I’ll tell you so far I’ve only been appointed President for about a week & I’ve only been an exco member for about 3 weeks. But to date I’ve only been met with hostility, intimidation. I felt so bullied I tell you. I will tell you what’s happening. My family received death threats and it’s now a police case. Each day I fear for the physical safety of my children, my family. There’s even a blog site detailing my children’s names and which school they go to. I don’t understand what has sparked this irrational fear of us, the new exco members, and what hatred. If you’re a parent you will understand how I feel. I feel so indignant. All I wanted to do is to serve the community & be a member of this Aware, to push for the cause of women. Do I deserve this? Death threat? What has Spore become? Is this what we want in Spore? And I’ll tell you as President I hv an official president@aware.org.sg email. Guess what? The secretariat has locked me out. I hv confronted the secretariat. The secretariat has been fired, okay. I’ll tell you I’ve my fellow cttee members here who’ll share with you their own experience, how they’ve been subjected to hostility & uncooperative staff members in the last 3 weeks, and all we wanted is to push & start work & get going with our work. But will they allow us? No. They’ve just been pushing & pushing us, badgering us all the time.
Jenica, do you want to share your experience?
Jenica Chua: I want to put it forth that I came to join Aware because I felt that when I reach a certain age it’s impt to contribute to society, to Spore to help other women. And we’re in a difficult economic situation. So I went to Aware. I’ve been Aware member for over 2 yrs now. I went for the executive cttee position. And to my utter horror, after I was elected there were a lot of allegations about my link to 377A. I don’t know why it came out in the press. But because of, I’ve written many things to the press. I’ve written about technology index & other areas, but the only thing that came out on the 10th affer the exco was elected was the fact I wrote to 377A and there was a homosexual slant to it. The next day I recd a death threat. They threatened to harm my loved ones. The person said that he has now joined a jihadist. He’s anti-Christian & he will find ways to harm my family, my loved ones. And all I did was to join a women’s association. It’s a women’s association to help women. And I felt very intimidated. Why did this happen? I’m a normal Sporean like any other of you. Why shud this happen to me? And it never stopped. Three days ago my company’s corporate communications person called me. Somebody wrote an e-mail to my company to say that because of my involvement in Aware it’s bad for the company’s reputation & urged the company to take action against me. So now it’s evolved to a threat. And becos of that I couldn’t sleep for many nights. I felt very harassed. And all I did, the only thing I did was to join Aware. I don’t understand this. I thought I joined a women’s association to help women. And throughout this difficult period we had a lot of wrestles becos the previous president kept changing the timing for the exco to meet. It went to & fro, to & fro, and I was like stuck in btwn as the secretary. I don’t understand.
Josie Lau: I think Lois you may hv some experience too.
Lois Ng: Members of the press, suddenly I feel that it’s a crime to be a Christian & to hold an exco position. I’m a Christian. I’ve made no bones about it. It’s been reported in the paper & it’s also reported in my website. But I’m now on the hit list of this operation level. I’ve been termed a leper. And this blogger has gone online to garner support to boycott my business. And I run a biz for ppl with disabilities. They include the autistic, ppl with below average IQ, ppl with physical disability. And we make a living by producing creative & quality gifts for the corporate & tourist mkt. And this person has gone online & extracted info from the ST and listed my working address, which is at High Point in Geylang and also my customers, their tel nos & their addresses & he’s asked ppl to boycott my biz & to even make verbal & written complaints to my clients to stop buying from me. And he says this is to teach me a lesson for joining Aware because I’m a Christian. I’m shocked. Spore is a multiracial society. We embrace diversity in religion. My religion is a pte matter. It’s got nothing to do with my work in Aware. And I joined Aware becos I’ve been asked to help Aware start up a social enterprise, to create employment for women, esp women with, singles with children, unmarried women & women who are lowly educated. And I come in to create employment for them. I did not expect to be on their hit list and my life and my staff’s lives are also in danger. What is happening to our society right now? What is happening? Can someone explain this irrational & dangerous move by some small group of ppl?
Josie Lau: Maureen has something to add too.
Maureen Ong: Mine is not as bad as theirs. But really we’ve been trying very hard to get on with the work and we hv been hampered from doing so. We’ve recd numerous complaints from ppl who are trying to register as members. Either they cannot get into the website or they get replies from the website saying that…women are registered as students. In the first place there’s no category called student membership. You’re either an ordinary member who can vote, or you’re an associate member who cannot vote. So we really don’t know what’s happening. And when we asked the website host company for further info, we’re told that we cannot ask them for info becos they only will communicate with either Constance Singam or Tanli(??) who is no longer with Aware, or Joanna Wong which is the PR asst. So there’s no recognition of us, either the President, the VP, or any of the new exco members.
There’s also an issue of the bandwidth. When we checked further why there was difficulty in accessing the website, we were told that the bandwidth was only 5 gigabytes. And that’s quite ridiculous for an association like Aware. And becos of that, the website was down from 18 Apr to 19 Apr. And then the website, the bandwidth was increased. So these are some of the instances when we try very hard to do our work & yet we’re hampered from doing so. Thank you.
Members of the press, we’ve given you brief statements of experiences working with Aware for the last 3 and a half weeks. And the next point, what we want to do is that Josie will address to tell you more about what is Aware today.
Josie Lau: Now what’s with Aware today? What does it stand for? Frankly not many ppl know. Because it’s been kept to such a small group of ppl. As of end of last Dec it was only about some 260 plus ppl. Now you’re wondering why Dr Thio Su Mien is here today. I think I will leave it to her to tell you her perspective of what’s going on with Aware.
Thio Su Mien: Good evening. I’m here as feminist mentor to women in the workplace. In the last 10 yrs I’ve been encouraging(??) women so that they become, released into society, to contribute to society. And it’s not an easy task to get women becos of the work balance to contribute. Having found this group of women, quite disparate group, becos I teach all over Spore & I counsel all over Spore & training ppl and I was able to…system in… I’m outraged. I’m absolutely outraged that very group of women take time off to contribute to society they get this kind of ferocious attack. I don’t understand. I don’t understand what has come of our ppl. In my counselling practice I find that many of our young men & women are… They’re very wounded, they’re very hurt. And there’s this rage that’s in them… But I never expected the degree & the level of attack of ppl which has served the community. So I’m just wondering what is the cause of this ferocity in attacking ppl. And I believe that it’s caused…that there is an agenda in Aware. Aware was formed 26 years ago by my friends, my contemporaries. And it’s done great work in so many areas. And in 1998(??), membership was about 700 odd, which was very well. Suddenly in 2006 it sort of declined; 2007, it declined to 200 odd ppl. And in 2008 there was an AGM where they sought to introduce to give men the vote in a women’s orgn where the objective is to represent all the women of Spore & not a small proportion of women. And you know that women form about 50% of our population. So we must focus our attention on promotion of the rights of women. To my horror I found that they want to introduce men into a women’s society. And the very strange thing was that at that meeting there were only 25(??) members who turned up at that meeting – AGM 2008. So I started looking into the affairs of Aware to see what’s happening to this orgn which my friends hv set up. And not only hv they set it up and my name is here, one of the women we honoured, becos I was a pioneer feminist. I was first law dean. Subsequent years, probably a female, woman who runs one of the largest law firms in Spore. But I sit on the boards of many public listed companies. I was also at one time a member of the Asian Devt Board tribunal. And I was also judge of the World Bank. I served it for 8 yrs and retired as senior VP of the World Bank administrative tribunal…with some standing to speak about this because in Cedaw this is this thing about promoting women into positions of leadership. And under…there is this 30 to 35% rule which I thought, wow, we hv a legal document whereby we can promote the cause of women, bring all the young women into leadership positions. But with the economic crisis there’s also this desire to help those who are disadvantaged. When women & men are retrenched, we want to make sure that not women are retrenched. There needs to be an even hand in this. So there are many many issues that we need to look to. And I find to my dismay that Aware seems to be only very interested on…and the advancement of homosexuality, which is a man’s issue and how it came under Aware is quite covert. …when Aware sponsored the film Spider Lilies. Spider Lilies is a film by 2 lesbians who fell in love. One is a tattooist and the only one is a virtual sex worker. When a parent saw this film… He wrote to Today and he asked why is Aware showing this film becos he’s got a teenage daughter. I think it really troubled him. And lo and behold…is that this is part of a comprehensive sexual education. So then it became kind of impt that they shud know what is in this prog. And this prog is already in schools, 30 schools whereby they are using this prog. But from what she said, the suggestion is that in this prog, young girls from 12 to 18 are taught that it’s ok to experiment with each other. And this is something which…parents in Spore. Are we going to hv an entire…of lesbians? I hv nothing against lesbians or homosexuals personally. On a personal front, I’ve given ministered, I’ve counselled them. So you need to understand I’m not talking about… They are in pain. And very often…where you hv abusive fathers, they do things with their daughters and the daughters revolt, rebel against society. We understand this is what it’s all about. It’s the people, the pain of people…
…It’s the people, the pain of people, the woundedness(??) of people and all this is not, you know, it brings out a reach(??). So if you need proof that Aware has actually moved to…you have this male sexual programmes and workshops which was inducted under the auspices of Aware in 2008 by a Finnish activist and he was talking about the sensitivity, how…about sensitivity, sexual…and so on. Now, Finland has a law. I think you need to know this…law is now…should we have state-funded artificial insemination for women… So this is under discussion, I do not know whether they passed this into law. So these are issues, are you for or not, for homosexualism and… The only question is what are we talking about? Are we talking about same-sex marriage? Are we talking about…taxpayers’ monies abused…you could say a man and woman, they can go for…for whatever you call it, so what about us? So I think this whole thing we need to discuss it, bring it up openly and discuss in a different time. So I believe that…focus which is like…set up by my friends that they will go back to look after the majority, all women, all women of Singapore…all the women. So my…is that can we refocus on the excellent objectives of Aware? Go back to its original purpose for it…for it being an NGO? So I leave that because I think I’ve just raised a comment.
Okay. Thank you, Su Mien.
We move to the third point: What this Aware Exco aim to do?
Again, in my last interview, I said Aware has lost its focus but I think I was being very polite when I said that. It has really not lost its focus but I think it has gone further than that, much, much further than that. It has now become a single-objective organisation. So that’s what the new team is here to do: we want to bring Aware back to its original very noble objective which is to represent all women, to advance their cause, all women whatever religion and race in areas such as professional development, their private life, their health and Singapore does have an Asian population. We need to look at the ageism, all the problems. Look at women who have some slight diabetes the minute they hit certain age, their insurance premium no longer make any sense for them. So we should be pushing those cause and I think with almost 50 per cent of our population in Singapore being women we really have to refocus back on our bread and butter issue where everyday women on the street cares about. So, I think we want, we are really serious about getting started on our work but we haven’t been able to do so for the last three weeks and I hope from this press conference the new team can start to work seriously on how we could bring this association to a higher level of recognition amongst the Singaporean woman.
Thank you, Josie. Right now, we’ll give 30 minutes to the media to ask more questions. You have answered some and then when you’re going to ask a question, please go to the mike and introduce yourself, your name and the paper or the media that you’re representing.
Sumiko?
Q: I’m Sumiko from Straits Times.
Q: Hi…lesbian event for Aware…that Aware had supported…
Lesbianism…homosexual…men as well…I think latest post amendments, constitutional amendments, it is proposed to give men the vote. It is also proposed to give women to vote and what is very bizarre, it wants to get teenagers to vote. But for teenagers join Aware, they have to get parental consent. We thought it’s very odd. So you are a woman’s organisation. Normally membership is required…ordinary members are allowed to vote and associate members who did not qualify but we wish to encourage. So there is this sudden shift to give men the vote. Why? Are the men masquerading? Is the homosexual activist men coming under the umbrella of Aware? So if you look inside of their materials, the language now is always men and women, men and women.
Yes, because we’re inclusive.
Yes.
What do you mean by inclusive? Don’t throw words at me. This is a woman’s organisation. We should concentrate on the position. Of course when we intereact, let’s say you organise a forum on discrimination of women in a place of work, you certainly would like to have men participate but we don’t need to prove that everything we do it must be in the objectives. Now, it is in our objectives when it is lesbianism that you want to encourage, they could form a separate organisation and if the men want to push the homosexual agenda, they can form their own organisation. But this is for women. Fifty per cent of the population of Singapore are women and we are interested in advancing the cause of women in the political, economic and social spheres. We have done reasonably well in the sphere of education and public health maybe but there are areas like politics and civil service where the women have got their…because in Cedaw,, which is the convention that (a) seek the elimination of discrimination, it’s written…which Singapore is fine. It says that all nations which have signed Cedaw should try to get to a level of 30 per cent or 55 per cent of women in… So this to me would inspire those to know that they can fulfil their potential. You know, in my times a long time ago, because meritocracy, I’m grateful that at this age I’m able to…even…when I passed the law school, I was the first batch of students and the current Chief Justice Chan Sek Kiong and Professor Tommy Koh who is obviously ambassador-at-large… So no quarters were given, no quarters…us four were great friends. But, you know, when I applied a job in university, it was special scholarship to train me…scholarship to get equally qualified, then you do your masters which incidentally happens to be of equality before the law, I come full circle and one, when I go to Harvard and planned to get my LLM. So the Vice Chancellor was very upset when was name was proposed because he said… Are you sure you want her? You know, she’s going to get married. I think she will not do the job. And I’m grateful that the Law Dean at that time, Mr Wong Long Tan was willing to let me have a go at that. If I served…worked up my…and worked up my…never was an issue. But there was a type of discrimination and also I think even in younger generation… When girls applied for scholarships, he will say, why don’t you do English or history or arts, don’t do law. We want the law reserved, the law scholarships to be reserved for men. So there is this…discrimination. But my own line, I look at… and I would like young ladies of today to have type of probably an environment where they could rise. We want more Lim Hwee Huas, we want more Chan Heng Chees, all these women who inspire us.
So can I clarify that your evidence of Aware promoting homsexuality and lesbianism is down to the fact that you want to give men…
Well, there must be more to it.
Okay, I can add. Now late last year Aware set up a new subcommittee called Singles in Singapore and I’m reading from what…has written to the previous year’s Exco. Okay, the introduction, Aware, as you understand, Aware is a research advocacy association, so we want to advocate for more rights for singles and I…it is no secret that Singapore…and public policies actively discriminate against the state of singlehood. There is a perceived demonisation of a single person and the problem of singles is usually discussed in terms of a single female. There are other categories of singles that they want to explore and find out what are the challenges are, issues particular to single men and in also our previous Exco meeting, because the coordinator of the singles was chaired by Chew EeJin, at the end of the, at the end of the previous year, a new Exco has been appointed and all subcommittee…and new coordinators will be appointed and I have also expressed that I’m a single and I have a very single experience, I’m a single entrepreneur, I have taken care of my aged parents and I know the difficulties and challenges that singles face. So I will express that I also want to be a coordinator. So this huge fight and in one of the Exco meetings, Ee Jin expressed that one of the key areas that they want to look into is to give equal benefits, is to come up with research and data to present to the government, to give equal benefits to singles who want to adopt children. So again…
I didn’t say that, I didn’t say that. Okay? You haven’t even heard my presentation which I’ve prepared tonight. You have challenged me on something you know nothing about.
It was discussed in Exco and it is I believe all the Exco members heard it.
…Okay. There is only the men, the word men appears only at one time in this complete presentation out of our good conscience that we should not ignore men. But the entire research is on women.
Ee Jin, Aware is an association for women. The men do not need the women to fight for them, to fight for more rights or to have state-funded artificial insemination or other benefits.
…we want to, we are actually quite thrilled that you have taken this incredible ludicrous conclusions to the kind of work…
We have here an e-mail which is a paper that you presented to the previous year’s Exco members. So Sumiko wants it…
…everybody…
Thank you very much. I think this…we move on to another question. Does anybody else have another question?
She has something to say.
Jenica. In answer to this question?
Yes.
Okay.
The question is how do we know Aware has moved towards a very focused homosexual agenda. Before I start, I just want to show you the data that I got. This is the data that…I reported to the police, I think the police…it was very tough and it came from someone who is a gay, very against me. Why? I only got elected into a woman’s association, right? So if I have not…why is everybody pulling out a letter which I wrote two years ago on 377A. I wrote many articles. You can check Straits Times…
Reporters have e-mailed or…
…It’s a letter posted to the Aware centre. It’s posted by e-mail.
Was it handwritten?
It was typed. It’s now handed over to the police…
You said it was a…but…
The words are taken are extracts from the letter. In the letter the person profess himself as a gay.
But what has got to do with Aware…?
Ya. My question…
This is the question.
…That is what my point. I joined Aware. Okay, I want to put a very positive point across and I want to represent the entire Exco, the new members that got elected… At the AGM, none of us talked about our religious…although there was a lot of press, none of us talked about gay, lesbianism, none of us. But we were questioned by the Old Guards in the elections, please state whether you’re anti-gay or anti-lesbian. That was a question that was insisted by the Old Guards to be answered by all the persons who run for elections and was only turned down because someone else from the floor protested that is not constitutional because Aware is supposed to be all-encompassing.
And it’s irrelevant.
Why this great obsession with lesbiansm, homosexuality.
Perhaps each of you have one?
I would like to go on to a few points because of all this intense episodes, I went to do some further research of what Aware has done over the past few years. Besides…which was one thing, the other point was the comprehensive sexual education. This has been reached out to 30 schools. And in the schools they taught them things like, okay, homosexualism… Now, I’m not sure about you but if I’m a…I’m very concerned teaching such things to…18 years old. I’m not sure whether parents know what their children are learning. In addition to these points, we talked about Mother’s Day. What is your idea of Mother’s Day. If Aware is an all-encompassing organisation, how did we celebrate Mother’s Day? In 2006, Aware celebrated Mother’s Day by inviting lesbian-friendly mothers and lesbian bosses to talk about their experience. When Aware wanted to conduct health education courses, they wanted to warn women about HIV, they invited Alex Au, the once famous homosexual activist from Yawning Bread to talk about HIV. Now in addition last year 2008 Constance Singam spoke of membership to…in the month of July 2008 and she also publicised in Aware newsletter that she’s going to talk to SG Butterfly which is a group of Queer Women, travestite women. Now, I’ve got a lot of other little points but this is what I found out and this came out a lot because of the intense, this intense period which I went through. It’s very difficult for me. I never thought that a letter which I wrote two years ago about just one event – 377A – could have such repercussions. Why this obsession about whoever who talk to the press? I did not talk to the press. I don’t know who talked to the press. In the press, it was mentioned that one of the Old Guards, Nancy Griffins, said that in the AGM I was asked “Do you accept homosexuality?” And I said, “No”. Now this is false. We are now getting the audio transcript churned out but in no way in the AGM did I say anything about homosexuality, no way. Why did you discredit me? And also, there was also a posting that says that I posted to trevvy.com, a homosexual theme website. I didn’t post to trevvy.com. So I’m very puzzled why the press has picked up this slant when all I did was run a woman’s association.
Sorry, you have a question?
Can I just add, Sandra, before you say? My question is also to the media. Why is SPH newspaper, you know, pushing the envelope of our anti-gay story when they knew Exco was elected? And the stories were all one-sided and full of inaccuracies. How many of the people attended the AGM? At the AGM we were grilled on our religious affiliation. We were asked if we were anti-gay and we were told that because you are a Christian, you do not embrace the culture and the ethos of Aware. Do I need to say more?
Sandra.
Sandra Davie: Ya. Hi, I’m Sandra Davie, journalist with the Straits Times. I’m curious, Dr Thio, what’s your relationship to the Exco members? And are you speaking in your personal capacity or are you speaking on behalf of the Exco? It’s not very clear to me.
Dr Thio: Okay, can I make it clear? I’m speaking on behalf of my personal capacity and I wanted to come because I feel kind of responsible for these difficulties they’re going through because I was the one who mentored them over the years different groups of people. You know, I’m talking about 10 years kind of thing. So I go round Singapore teaching, counselling. So when all this problem about CSE and the…came forth, and it’s not that I read parent’s letter, then I started thinking: Hey, parents, you better know what’s happening, you better know what’s happening. And then lots of things cropped up. If you have time go and have a look at it. It is in the section of 10 to 14 years old and it’s a very…of the mind. But anyway, I talked to parents, I said, you better do something about this, otherwise your daughter will come back and say, “Mum, I want to marry my girlfriend” or your son will say, “Dad, I want to marry my boyfriend.” So they kind of got flabbergasted, what nonsense are they talking. So you know, I teach…well, maybe should go to the website, educate yourself what’s happening. It’s happening in the US, in Europe, there’s nothing new. It’s going on five, six, seven, eight, nine years. So what is happening in society is that we are redefining marriage, we are redefining families. So I’m a concerned citizen and if people are so ignorant, I think I want to teach them.
Sandra Davie: So, so it’s your opinion, your personal opinion. But you said that you mentored these women. Can I know where and?
Dr Thio: Oh, all over Singapore. I teach…
(cont’d in ‘traware3’)

cont. from ‘traware2′
Dr Thio : …I’m a concerned citizen & if people are so ignorant, I think I want to teach them.
Q: Ok, so it’s your opinion, your personal opinion. But you said that you mentored these women. Can I know where &.
Dr Thio: Oh, all over Spore. I teach all over the place. Like Maureen, I never saw her until recently when somebody brought her becos I said you guys, you better pay some attention to what’s happening to your children. Josie of cos is kind of related to me but she, you know, I had to nag her over the years, can you spend, you know, I know you got lots of problem(??), family, you got a job, why don’t you also give a little of yourself & ok, it can go on but.
Lois: Yes, we’d like to give the opportunity to other media. There are 2 from the ST already.
Q: I’m from LHZB. I’ve 2 qns. Just now…you mentioned that…related to Josie…can we just clarify how you hv known her over the years? How hv you known Josie over the yrs…
Dr Thio: Oh, she’s married to Dr Chin who received the death threat. Alan Chin is my nephew.
Q: Alan Chin is your nephew.
Dr Thio: Yes. And he also had a death threat. And my family also has death threat. Very interesting, is it? When you speak up against these issues, you get death threats. So my qn is, why are we getting death threats? You shud go & explore that & give an answer. Why? Why is it Jenica gets a death threat?
Q: And my 2nd qn is it seems that the new exco & the old exco seems to hv, even before the AGM, you hv differing views & why didn’t the new exco, why…set up a new org. all by itself, why did you go up & stand for running in the new exco & in the media’s words, take over…
Jenica: I just want to get the point: we are proposed, we are seconded & we are duly elected into the exco. Aware is a woman’s org. We are women. We came to join women & I don’t think I hv to defend that. Now if there is a very small proportion of old guards who are very upset with certain directions, I think they hv to respect the fact that we hv been elected in, we are the new exco & we do want to make changes. In fact, if you come to our EGM, we will share more about our plans.
: I guess we hv to be direct about this. No point, you know, beating around the bush.
Maureen: As Dr Thio has mentioned, I don’t know Su Mien, I don’t know Josie & I don’t know the rest. I came into the picture becos somebody told me that, you know, oh, something is happening that affects children & I am a mother of 3 children. So I’m concerned that going fwd, what are the children going to be taught on, as part of the so-called comprehensive sexual education. I don’t want my children to say that oh, it’s all right to go & experiment with homosexuality, to experiment with anal sex, ya, to experiment with virginity or the pill or even pre-marital sex. I’m concerned. I’m a parent. It’s shocking. How can this be done in our Spore society? Most of us are conservative. I am not afraid to say I’m a conservative person. I go to church, yes, but that is my religious belief. My belief system, my religious belief is personal to me. I did not go to Aware to push my religious belief. I went to Aware becos I was concerned about what was happening with the CSE and in particular, I went to the Aware AGM becos there were proposals to give the vote to men, to give the vote to foreign women, to give the vote to teenagers bet. 15 to 18 yrs old. Why are these being proposed in a woman’s org? Why is the objective of it? All these pple, the men, the foreign women, the teenagers are already in the so-called inclusive, all-inclusive membership as associate members. Why is there a need to go a step further & give them votes & give them the ability to stand as officer bearers? I simply don’t understand that. And it’s becos of this, I went to the Aware AGM to do that & when the elections came up, there was a position for Hon. Treasury. You hv seen my CV. I’ve been in the finance line for 30 yrs. It was a position which I felt I cud contribute & therefore I stood for election. And that was how it came about.
Q: This qn is for Dr Thio…you said you were concerned about happenings at Aware over time. Did you then maybe, just out of curiosity, maybe mobilise members to join via email or whatever before the AGM…
Dr Thio: Yes, I’m sure you think it’s so easy. It’s like extracting teeth to get pple interested in things of public affairs becos Sporeans are very passive…so you tell them, ya, it’s like, you know, like a glass over the eyes. So of cos I, as I said, I work with different(??) groups so I sent them emails & explain & I teach(??). If they are not interested, there’s nothing I can do about that. But I think the time has come. You see, if you know what’s happening in the US & what’s happening in Europe, you know, there was a case of a father who went to school & said to the principal, when you teach on homosexuality or anal sex in the classroom, can you pls take my 6-yr-old son out of the classroom. Like Spore, you know, if you teach certain race(??), then the Muslim child will go out & so on. So they hv the same kind of policy. So what happened in that case of David Parker was that he went to see the principal by appointment & said, can you give me an assurance that my 6-yr-old son will be taken out? The principal said no. So they called the superintendent. He said no. We will not give you the assurance. So he said, in that case, I will sit here. So they called the police & he was arrested and he was fined. Then what happened was that the 6-yr-old boy was accosted by a group of 6-yr-old boys in that school becos many of the parents were homosexual parents and they took the 6-yr-old boy to the back & they beat him up. This is very frightening. And I think it’s come here. With the death threats that we are getting. Just becos you speak on this issue, you get a death threat. You get a threat. Even before this, a university lecturer who wrote on a piece on equal protection of the law, purely technical pc of article, it’s available now. You know what happened to her? Various pple, and I don’t want to name them, various pple wrote in to the law faculty & said, you hv a dim wit here, intellectual midget. All of us are not coming to NUS becos you hv such poor quality lecturers.
This is what they do in America. If you read, you will find these are the tactics approach(??) & it’s happened to our own pple.
Q: We need to ask, why didn’t you run for a position in the exco since you are…
Q: Dr Thio, are you part of the new exco?
Dr Thio: No.
: No.
Q: Ya, so why didn’t you run for a position in the exco? Why get other pple…you hv such strong views about everything & you are speaking on their behalf.
Dr Thio: No, I’m not speaking. I’m speaking on my behalf.
Maureen: I also want to make a pt clear. We are not puppets of Dr Thio. We are mature, thinking professional women. We join Aware to stand for a cause that we believe in, ya, & it is not easy for us to just listen to Dr Thio & say we go. We hv to search ourselves & make decisions for ourselves.
Q: Sure, Maureen, I accept that…except that I still don’t understand why she didn’t run for an exco position, someone with her qualifications & background?
Lois: Honestly, Aware is too small an outfit for her & it’s for newbies like us.
Q: But…orchestrated, plan it before hand? She said she sent emails to you…
Oh, ya, ya.
Q: Is Dr Thio like the organiser?
Josie: I will place on record, no.
Dr Thio: No, no, it depends on what you mean by organiser. Actually it’s kind of flattering, in a way. Ok, what I did was I’m frustrated, you see. I talk to pple, they got glass eyes, oh, ok, live & let live so not my responsibility. And they hv children & they don’t care. So almost like they’re quite blind. So I nag them, I talk to them, I talk to the husband &…So what I did is that I put down, collect info, I send to different pple. So it’s up to you. You want to join? You go & join. If you want me to help you, I will help you. So I’m quite happy with that becos you see, you suddenly discovered that networking helps, that if there’s a view we want, we network thru’ the email. And I certainly hv come out from the Jurassic Park becos I’m quite proficient with the email & I think it is an efficient way of educating pple.
Q: …Dr Thio, are you implying that all this is sort of, it’s planned, that…you hv thought of it for a long time, that you hv planned all this?
Dr Thio: No, no. No, no, I have better things to do than this, ok? I hv to earn a living, I work & I do a lot of other things. But the idea came I think round about when this AGM took place & there were 29(??) pple. So I said, what’s happening.
Q: 2008.
Dr Thio: I think it was 2008. Then I was.
: Ok, ya, I think it’s enough. Wait, wait…impt, yes….
Lois: I know that (o-o) wants to know what is Dr Thio’s role. The reason why we called this press conf is to address the issues that you hv. There’s been lots of allegations that the group, anti-gay & Christians & Dr Thio, so we hv nothing to hide & this is the reason why we are here &.
Q: Lois, I’m sorry. You haven’t answered a lot of qns…
Lois: You know, this is such a, the Aware saga is long-drawn & it has raised lots of qns & I think there are also qns that the media need to ask yourself. Why the strong, unusually strong reaction…
: Lois.
: Let her ask…
Lois: Ok, to a group of pple who hv taken over, I mean, become elected into a new c’ttee. Ok, Sandra, my president has asked that you be allowed to ask…
Josie: I think if you hv qns, this is the platform for you to address.
Q: Ya, ok, I think part of the maybe suspicion or negative comments you’re getting comes from pple feeling that this was a takeover, that it was orchestrated & so on. So naturally we want to know since Dr Thio said that she had known you all before, she had mentored you all & she had sent you all emails, or several pple emails asking whether they wud..
Josie: I will tell you my personal story, Sandra.
Q: Ya, and looks like she’s been thinking of this since last year, after the AGM so, you know, I’m not saying that she’s planning this takeover but on the other hand, it does look like she had a part to play in this event…
Josie: Let me share with you my story. Ok, I’ve been married to the family for 20 yrs. We meet occasionally once or twice a year, during Christmas, CNY. And she has been nagging me for the last 15, 20 yrs, are you doing something in the public, contributing back to the community? You hv such a good life. Everything, you’re jetsetting all the time. When, and I wasn’t ready. Ok, but now my kids are much older, I feel that it’s time for me to contribute & when last yr I personally was very very taken aback by the Spider Lilies premiere, as part of Aware’s premiere gala & that set me thinking: what actually is Aware doing with all this thing? And when the opportunity came & asked wud you like to serve or join Aware, she said I’ll put you in touch with somebody & that was how I got, I didn’t even get in touch, it was Claire Nazir who called me & she was looking for somebody to assist her in the area of marketing & that’s my area of expertise. And as it turned out, honestly, I did not join Aware thinking that there will definitely be a new exco. I just know that I’m joining aware & if I stand for election & got elected, this is the area where I think I can contribute.
Q: Ok, can I ask 2 qns pls. Fong Meng, from Today…the death threats that you guys received…unfortunate & you’re right, it shudn’t be happening but to you at this pt, looking back at what’s happened, do you think that as a group, the new Aware exco has made a mistake which is obviously you felt very strongly about the issue & there were plans to come in & to serve in this way. So qn No. 1, at the pt when pple were asking, was there an agenda, had the new exco had come out even before the AGM or even immediately after the AGM to say, yes, this is how we…issues, it is when the answers were not given, the integrity of the exco, the new exco came into qn. So do you think you cud hv done something to at least, that’s one qn. The other qn, Josie, is about DBS becos DBS has said that the afternoon of the mtg before you were elected as president, you had indicated you planned to stand for election as president. But later on at the Talking Pt programme…
cont. in ‘traware4’
…But later on at the Talking Point programme you said that you were the last…standing… Can you clarify this?
Ya, I’ll clarify that second part first. Okay. I’m bound by my employment contract not to say anything between me and DBS, so I hope you’ll respect that. Now, the Constitution is such that when the president resigns, you can only elect from one of the six ordinary Exco members and I’m one of them. And there is always a possibility that I could be, I don’t know. Okay. And that night, the truth of the matter was as we went round the table, we asked everybody: If somebody before me said that she would take it, I would have gladly given it to her because I did not come into Aware to be president, I was just joining Aware to help out with fund-raising and marketing. So when I spoke to my bosses about me being an Exco member because there were already press articles on the 10th of April, which was a Good Friday, and I had to tell my boss that “Oh, I’m an Exco member” and that was it. And then subsequently when it became apparent that it could be one of the six, any of the six and I said I might as well put it in in an application form. But anyway, this is part of my employment, I don’t want to talk about it and please, it’s off the record. So that night when we had the meeting, even before the meeting started, there were already press outside waiting. Can you imagine if we had walked out and no president elected, the press will say, “Look, this new Exco has no leadership, no one is willing to take over the baton and everything.” And that night I had to bite the bullet and go. We went round the meeting, I was the sixth person to be asked. From the No. 1 to the 5th, nobody wanted.
Can I ask your husband’s role…?
My husband’s? He’s just my husband and he’s supportive of whatever I do and I never hide the fact that he is my husband. At the AGM itself he was the only man and he said, “I’m here to support my wife.” So it’s a very open thing.
He’s an associate member.
But Dr Thio was saying that, you know, actually shouldn’t have males.
No, but he’s not there to vote.
Okay. Now let me clarify. Aware shouldn’t have males as ordinary members which means they can vote. Aware always have males as associate members. She means that they don’t have voting rights.
So this is something that we want the press to maybe understand, the whole issue is about the constitutional amendments which will be advanced at the AGM. Right now the whole story is all about anti-gay, Christian fundamentalists but the whole issue that we want to address is about the proposed amendments to give voting rights to men. Men are already associate members but they have no voting rights. We want to extend voting rights to expatriate women so that they can dictate on what’s happening in Singapore and also we want to give voting rights to minors, teenagers from 15 to 18 years old. So we are questioning the Exco members of Aware, the old previous Exco members of Aware or the leadership, Old Guards, what is your rationale because Aware is a women’s organisation. If they have an alternative agenda, then perhaps they should set up another outfit and be open about it and pursue their agenda and lobby for support and pressure the government but do not use Aware which is an organisation for women to push their alternative agenda.
Can I add something? The proposal to allow men to vote was actually put up at the 2008 AGM and that AGM was attended by 30 plus people. That proposal was thrown out at the 2008 AGM. And yet it was put up again for the 2009 AGM. The question is who asked for this to be put up again? And why is it being considered again when by a majority it was thrown out at the previous AGM? The other thing I also want to mention is we went there, we stood for election. Under the Constitution, as long as one ordinary member propose and another ordinary member second, anybody who is an ordinary member can stand for election. Whether we would get elected or not depends on all the ordinary members who turned up for the AGM. Dr Thio has said that it is an uphill task to get Singapore women involved in things like that. Singapore women like me, I’m only interested in raising a family, paying off my mortgage, making sure that I can live in Singapore which has got increasing costs. But this Aware is something that caught my attention because I saw an article in the papers where Constance Singam mentioned what are the objectives of Aware. So actually it was the various, the objectives of Aware is a cause for women. But when I heard, when I learned about the developments, the recent programmes like the Comprehensive Sexual Education which is going into our schools, reaching out to girls who are between 12 to 18 years old, it shocked me and it was something which I wanted to find out more about and that was one reason why I signed up to be an Aware ordinary member to attend the AGM, first of all, to understand the original objective that Constance Singam talked about and what is the rationale behind all this CSE programmes and spider release and so on and really what I was puzzled about, why is there a need to allow men to vote. And that was the reason I attended the AGM. And I felt that if I could contribute to society, yes, why not I stand for election. Besides I have counselling experience and so on and I’m also helping out in neighbourhood schools. I have seen how Singapore women are discriminated against. In marriages, I have counselled women who have marital problems and some of them don’t even know that they have rights under the Women’s Charter. And the children in the neighbourhood schools, I find that many of them come from broken homes. Parents are in prison, you know, and the single mother is actually going through a really tough time in Singapore and therefore it’s something which I want also to be able to serve and by joining Aware that is also one of the things. And that’s how I stood for election. Whether I could be elected in or not is really a matter of who turn up for the annual general meeting. So if the Old Guard is really that interested, why didn’t they turn up at the annual general meeting?
…no comments about…relationship…off the record…very clear, but since DBS has gone on record to say that you did inform them and on Talking Point I said that…you were last woman standing, can we have that on record?
I did not say that. She said that.
No, you said that there were six names and you felt that there was a possibility and you informed the facts. So did you tell… This is a matter of clarification because there’s one rumour that’s going round that you had lied. Josie, could you clarify that on record, please?
I must clarify since I’m not bounded by a contract. I think I can anwer in my conscience that there was only one person who stood up to run… It was really wonders.
No, her question is did I even tell my bank.
Okay. I just want to say I’ve also worked in big corporates. Big corporates have got many terms and conditions and usually if you are taking on a position that it in addition to your full-time job, you’re required to seek clearance from your employer. When it comes to volunteer work with an NGO, sometimes the employees may not be very clear as to whether they need to get clearance, especially when you don’t get any rumuneration and it’s really a matter of your own personal time, your volunteer personal time and really your own interest. So what happened if you are going to say that there was anything done wrong by Josie, it was just that she did not submit an application before she stood for election at the Executive Committee. And actually now she has clarified…
You see, I’m put in a very difficult position because…
I was referring to the second time.
Can we deal with it stage by stage? Let Josie say.
I hope you understand I’m in a very difficult position. I’m not allowed to say anything that happened that night.
So don’t speak.
Okay, I will take it from there. Okay, any way, Josie put in an application to stand as an Exco member and what was told to her is fine, okay. Then Claire resigned, which means that we have to name a new president. And Josie put in an application to say that she may be elected as, she may be named as the president but at that time nobody knew who was going to be named the president to replace Claire. So we all set the date for the second Exco meeting on 15th April, we all went there. At 6.15 I got a call from Josie and Josie said, “Look, I have a problem with corporate clearance. It’s 6.15. Our Exco meeting is at 7.00.” And before we even went into the Aware Centre, reporters were all over the place. They were pushing us and there’s really no space given to us. If we had gone into the Exco meeting and we came out and said, “Sorry, nobody wants to be president,” imagine what that would have done to Aware as a women’s organisation. They will say these women don’t know what they are doing, they can’t even organise themselves. So it is to Josie’s credit that she took up the baton, she stepped up to the task and took it. And what was in her mind? Probably it could be something that she could work out with her employer. And then to her horror, DBS just unilaterally made an announcement to say that she has breached her contract, she has gone against instructions. Okay, sorry, I don’t want to jeopardise Josie’s position.
Can I just clarify…sum up what we have here? So Josie, you did tell the bank that there’s a possibility that by evening you would become president but on Talking Point when you said that there was no plan, you were the last woman standing and you gave in. That was because you were bound by the conditions set by your bank, you can’t talk about it? I mean they’re trying to understand, it’s because they’re writing the story and this could go several places, they just need to get the points clarified. Thanks.
Okay, this will be the last question because I’ve just received the latest update. This thing has grown out of proportion. Okay, the police are there right now at Aware Centre and Shultz Lee, our centre manager is raving and is shouting and just refusing to let the vendor replace the security locks. And the Old Guards, many of the Old Guards are on their way there. I believe there’s going to be a fight. So I think, I’m so sorry, I think we have to call, make an end to the press conference…
Can a couple of you please stay back because we have certain questions which…and in the interest of transparency we really need…we don’t want to be accused of misquoting or not, giving a one-sided story. I have some related questions which I think are very important. Radha from the Straits Times by the way, so I’ll be very grateful if a couple of you at least can stay back and address some questions. And yes, we will also want to know what’s happening at the Aware office. I’m told your friends want to change locks and I just got an SMS and that is a third question.
This access security matter was discussed at the first Executive Committee meeting chaired by Claire. Basically we went to look at the premises. There are padlocks on all the doors and there’s no proximity card system and so on. So we have concerns about the security about the place. And from information, the staff members each hold many keys. Altogether there are 60 keys to the premises floating around among the staff. So it was really a matter of concern for the new Executive Committee as to the security of the place. So we actually talked about making sure that the premises are well secured. And as you know, it is common nowadays for offices to install proximity card system so that we know who goes in and out of the premises and to secure the rest of the premises.
Okay. That’s fine. Thank you.
(cont’d in ‘traware5’)
Q: Ok, that’s fine, thank you. Josie, I want you to clarify 1 thing. Right at the beginning in your opening statement, you mentioned that
Aware was a single objective orgn. Were you referring to it being pro-lesbian & gay and that was its only agenda over the past few yrs?
Josie Lau: Well, I meant that, ok you shouldn’t put specific into a general statement I make. When I said single it means it has become quite a focus for them.
Q: What has become a focus?
The homosexual agenda has become quite a focused…
Q: So when you said it was a single objective orgn, you implied or you meant that they were focusing only on homosexual issues…
A: No, that’s what I said, you must not make specific of a general statement I make.
Q: I don’t quite understand that. If you can explain. I hv a 2nd qn if you attempt that 1st. I think my colleague she was trying to ask…and all of you, many of you hv said that becos of the sexuality prog and as being mothers you want to come in Aware do something about it. Why do you not set your own group? Why do you hv to come into Aware & fix what you perceive to be a wrong becos I’m sure there are many mothers in Spore & I’m one of them who believe that in an inclusive society it’s okay to hv sexuality progs that keep, let children hv an open mind, particularly becos MOE also runs many other sexuality progs as well as children’s society.
A: I think there’s definitely diversity of views on homosexuality but there’s one unity of views, that is pls be honest, do not fudge the message, do not operate under deception. No smokescreen. If this is the key agenda, come out & say it but don’t fudge it under the constitution which is to push for the cause of all women in Spore, all women. And if you want you can take a look at the constitution. It is for all women. And I think I wud like Maureen to talk a little bit more about Cedaw.
Q: Sorry, my other qn about why do you not set up your own…
A: I think I’ve already answered that.
Can I explain pls? You see Aware has always been involved in doing the shadow report for Cedaw which is submtted to the United Nations cttee. There’s a report which is submitted by the Spore govt. And that Cedaw report is being chaired on the nat. level by Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon. There’s a shadow report that’s submitted by advocacy groups. So in Spore that shadow report is actually an area where Aware is very active in. And Aware works closely with the SCWO. Actually they come under the umbrella of SCWO. And what happened is in fact in the preparation, during the preparation of the shadow report, there were certain clear differences that surfaced btwn the SCWO & Aware. And there was even talk of submitting 2 shadow reports – 1 by the SCWO & 1 by Aware. And that is something which we’ve been trying to gain access to. We’ve asked as the new exco to hv a look at the shadow report that has been prepared by Aware. And in the president’s report tabled at the AGM on 28 March, Constance Singam in her report said that the shadow report shud be completed by March 2008, which is 1 yr ago. So when we asked to see the report, we were told oh there’s a typo error in the president’s report. It shud be 2009. And now we’re into April. And when we asked for the report, we were referred to Braema. And Braema says it’s still not ready. So we said, fine, if it’s not ready, can you give us the working drafts. And instead of replying to us, she went to the press & said that we wanted to remove her & so on. Up till today we’ve not yet appointed the coordinator for the Cedaw cttee. Under the constitution, the sub-cttee actually were under the orginal, under the old exco by effluxion of time ceased to exist, right? So that means basically new coordinators hv to be appointed or even reappointed by the new exco, okay. The normal process is the sub-cttee members will nominate their members but the approval still rests with the exco.
Q: So am I correct to assume you all took Aware to work more on Cedaw & Cedaw talks about constitutional guarantees for no discrimination against women, Cedaw talks about equality of Muslim women, Cedaw talks about more…you’re going to fight for the syariah laws to be changed…
A; Yes, we’re there for all women.
Q: So I take it that you chose Aware becos yes you’re right Aware was in charge of the Cedaw report. So you want to take up some of the causes that are enshrined in Cedaw, is that correct?
A: Yes, that’s correct.
Q: And that’s why you didn’t form your separate orgn.
A; We wud hv been happy to leave Aware to do the work which it was supposed to do. Our concern is that Aware appears to be being hijacked to another direction which is not the direction we believe is the original objective, the original noble objective of Aware, as stated in the constituion.
Q: Is it by coincidence that you belong to the same church…
A: Before I joined I didn’t even know Maureen. Before I joined I didn’t even know Lois.
Q: But you joined in 2007, right?
A: Ya I joined in 2007. So I didn’t know her. I only know her after I got elected.
Q: Basically we just want to clarify the church connection becos there’s been a lot of talk…
A: There is no church connection. The church is not at all involved in secular affairs.
Q: I’m not saying the church itself but the fact that you belong to the same church, did you know each other in church, did you come together & meet to say that on the day of the AGM you’re going to bus in a lot of ppl from your church or wherever to support you & get you…
A: No, the answer is no. We all attend church of our saviour. We joined the church at various different times. Before I joined the church I was a Buddhist. And then I joined new creation. And from new creation I went to… I don’t know any of these ppl until I got on to the cttee.
Q: A few weeks ago?
A; Yes. What happened was, yes we all attend the church. And really I only know Su Mien becos I was invited by one of the ppl who attended her Tanglin fellowship to attend a talk that was given by Su Mien. And that was when I first met her. But I dont move in her circles. I’m a working mother. I don’t move in her circles. And I don’t call Su Mien up. I don’t even know her phone, her mobile phone or her home no. until we got onto this cttee & really we, becos of all the problems we’re having, the death threats & so on, we went to our mentor to ask if she cud help us in what we’re trying to achieve. And that was only after we were appointed.
Q: You say that you want to go towards the changing of syariah law…
A: Not syariah law.
Q: We are there…
Q; Okay, another qn, sorry. Did Miss Thio personally becos you said that you don’t hv her contact no. So did she personally contact you guys?
A: No, as I mentioned I went for a talk which she was giving at her place. She has a regular Tanglin fellowship meeting which I don’t attend becos I hv my own cell group. The church has 4,000 members. We attend different svcs. And we basically hv our own cell group. My cell group does not include any of these ppl. And so that’s how we operate in the church environment. I got to know who she is when I attended the… Okay, just a correction on syariah law. We’re Christians. I’m sorry, I don’t know very much about syariah law. So to correct any misunderstanding, what I’m trying to say is that we’re there for all women, whether the woman is a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Christian, a free-thinker, we’re there for all regardless of race, language or religion. Thank you.
Q: Is it possible that the conspiracy that you’re trying to unearth…
A: We really hv to go to the Aware centre, big fight, the police are there, the Old Guard are there becos they resisted our attempt to change secuity, the lock. So this is our, my qn is why the unusually strong reaction. It’s something that, it’s a qn that begs to be asked & to be investigated further. And maybe the media might want to look at it from a different angle. The reason why we’re here is that we’re not dodging the press. We know that the media has been baying for blood, coming up with stories day after day and then even on one particular day someone counted that ST ran 10 pages on Aware. And Aware has never recd such high, much attention. So the reason we’re here is to answer your queries and about us being Christians, what we want to do &, okay, in the ST has also mentioned Dr Thio’s name. So we decided to just meet the press & let you, we try our best to answer your qns. So I think that is enough & maybe for ppl who want other qns we can always arrange another time.
Q: One, will any of you consider stepping down after all these death threats? Two, is the EOGM still going ahead on the 2nd? Three, how many members do you hv…
A: Ok, No. 1, whether any of us are going to step down, the answer is no. We hv been elected. We’ve been proposed, seconded & elected in a legitimate manner. And with what’s happening in fact it even gives us more reason to stay on becos we really want to know what’s happening and why is a contract staff like the centre manager preventing the executive cttee from doing its job by making sure that the premises are secure, and why are the Old Guard coming in to interfere? We’ve been elected through a process that is proper. We came in properly.
Ok, your 2nd qn is the EOGM is still going ahead on the 2nd. Yes, the EOGM will be going ahead on the 2nd of May as scheduled. The problem we hv is now that as of yesterday the membership has gone up to 880 and applications for membership are still coming in, and the place that we’ve booked for the event may not be able to accommodate these nos. So we’re actually now struggling, we’re trying to look for maybe another alternative venue where we can accommodate all members. As Josie has mentioned we want to hv an open dialogue with the members and that is the reason we’re calling the EGM. One, to deal with the proposed constitution which we cud not deal with at the 28th AGM becos we ran out of time. We had 20 members giving election speeches & so on. It took us three and a half hours.
I think…we just want to say that we hope that they’ve answered your qns. And I in turn also hv a qn to ask the media. I’d like to ask what is ST’s role in this story becos ppl like, you’ve quoted Margaret Thomas, Dana Lam, Braema, they were all ex-ST journalists. So what is ST’s role? Since we were asked what is our role, what is this Christian link becos we’re Christian and most of us come from Chuch of Saviour, and the media asked what is the role of the Church of Saviour, is it a ground for recruitment? Then I’d like to ask ST: are you playing a role in this Aware saga as well?Thank you very much, ladies & gentlemen.

5 Responses

  1. Ah I am not as clever as you! Sorry if I misread the transcript.

  2. surprised you got that impression. perhaps you should re-read the transcript? the press version was mild, compared the SMSes & emails flying around right after the takeover–i thought they were trying to calm things down!

    like your son, i tested 160+ on the S-B5 but only because i’m good at playing with words and numbers… certainly not because i’m part of your intelligentsia or in the business/military/artificial intelligence, whichever you were referring to… so i guess another ‘practical fact’ is people rated ‘intelligent’ reach different conclusions!

    incidentally the elitist genetic algorithm (using the original meaning of ‘elitist’) applied by thio su mien to create her coup ex-co failed because it approached a generalized assignment task with rigid and imprecise cost & time parameters. Hence the ‘revolution’ (mutation scheme) with a repair algorithm.

  3. Thanks for your imput.
    However many of my friends and people in the intelligence (whom I gleaned opinions from out of curiosity) including my son who has an IQ around 99.9 percentile (as well as his ex-classmates) was given this impression by the press. My IQ is probably around 120 only.
    Am just stating practical facts not being “elitist” (this word has lost its original meaning by the way).

  4. This transcript is very interesting. I don’t remember the press mentioning that 3 of the Old Guard were ex-ST journalists and that they were asked about their role in this saga.
    Looks like the “takeover” idea was conjured by the press (besides other ideas). ? A bid to influence readers with the written word? If so we have mostly all been subjected to biasedness.
    This transcript is very different from what I construed from the media, who are of course good in manipulating words and images to their advantage.

    There are other conclusions to be made from this transcript too but its a long story.
    Regards again

    • I thought it was interesting too… but don’t think the “takeover” idea came from the press at all…
      btw I heard directly from angry members who were at the agm (not the egm) & it was clearly an planned takeover right from the start.

      Read the transcript again carefully–you can see how defensive and unprepared the coup ex co was in setting up this meeting & responding to questions–the press (perhaps in attempts to be ‘fair’) actually made them look a lot better in the press articles than they come across here.

      And that’s the main reason why I posted it–so that people could read for themselves, rather than through a filter.

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