The battle is won! A-WARE to go from here?

Yesterday, the new Exco under Josie Lau resigned after they received a vote of no confidence of 1414 to 761. Long-time members of the NGO has taken over the helm and now the question is: what now for AWARE?

The NGO has claimed the attention of the nation, with nearly 3,000 people in attendance at the EGM held yesterday, and many more waiting to hear the news of who won the fight.

Under the short leadership of the Ms Lau’s Exco, the membership of AWARE has swelled ten times its original, although how much can be attributed to them is another question. Yet to say that they cannot take credit for it is also unfair, because under the Old Guard, membership had been hovering around 300 with only about a third attending the AGM on March 28.

Josie Lau and her short-lived Exco had originally come to bring AWARE back to its original goals, and I think in the short space of time they had, they accomplished their mission – they made the nation sit up and pay attention to what women want. They made women take action and fight for what they want. Bet even they didn’t expect it to be accomplished this way.

The other thing that Ms Lau accused the Old Guard of is letting gay activists use AWARE as a front. That is something I agree with.

An old journalism adage tells us to “follow the money”. People put money into what they value. So we ask: Who funds the AWARE school programmes which teaches children that “anal sex can be healthy” and homosexuality and pre-marital sex are “neutral”? TODAY uncovered that in this article.

So what now, for AWARE? What does this even newer Exco have planned for its over 2,000 members? The nation is watching, waiting to see if the Exco under Dana Lam is up to the challenge. Managing a society of 2,000 (or is it 3,000 now?) people is quite different from managing one with 300 people that Ms Lam is used to.

All of a sudden, women have taken an interest in AWARE once again. Can Ms Lam and her Exco keep women interested in fighting for their rights without having to go through another fiasco? Can her Exco hold on to all its new members or will the membership plunge to the levels of before? Only time will tell.

One thing for sure is, gay activists will not be able to use AWARE secretively as a front any more, now that their cover has been blown and the organisation is under constant scrutiny from the public.

Congratulations Dr Thio Su Mien, you have won the battle. You have helped AWARE to involve women from all walks of life actively participate in fighting for what they want, and you have helped expose the insidious use of AWARE to influence the views of children towards accepting the homosexual lifestyle as normal. A pity that more people cannot see that this is also imposing a certain view on others.

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4 Responses

  1. The tussle was more than pro- vs anti- homosexual lifestyles. It was about ethical and transparent conduct.

    Parents and yourself have every right to be concerned about certain literature in the education of your children. You have the right to opt-out, no one forced you.

    To be tolerent of others does not necessarily mean you accept everything. If we breed thoughts such as yours, there will be no end to the disagreements that arise from every faction, section of society.

    • Hi Angel&demon,

      Is acting in secrecy a moral issue? No. I would say it is politically prudent and amoral. As the means is amoral, we then need to look at the intention. The intention of Josie’s exco not to talk to the press about their intentions belies an understanding that the mainstream media especially was already against them from the start – and we see it in the unobjective reports carried in the press. In such a case, Josie’s exco was prudent in remaining silent on their objectives.

      In addition, Josie’s exco was legally, according to AWARE’s constitution then, voted into the exco. So it’s not like they broke the rules to get into the exco and, as media likes to report, “ousted” the old guard. That, together with “seized control” and “takeover” are all media labels with negative connotations designed to put readers against them.

      Watching the videos of what happened during the EOGM, I would say the old guard were the ones who seized control of the leadership after they lost it through their own neglect of training successors. And they did it how? By relying on the votes of members who joined AWARE less than a month ago – exactly what the old guard was accusing Josie’s exco of doing.

      In addition, supporters of the old guard harassed Josie and company when they spoke, seized microphones away when others were speaking, jeered, booed and taunted Josie’s exco. Through it all, she and her team were gracious about it and only once lost their self-control, which the media gleefully picked up and exaggerated. I’d say Josie and her team were more than tolerant in the hostility they faced, which is much less than we can say for the supporters of the old guard.

      “To be tolerant of others does not necessarily mean you accept everything.”
      - What do you mean by this? To be tolerant, what can you accept and what can you not accept? It would seem that we were not tolerant of Josie’s exco, even though she had not done anything wrong unethical. Being non-transparent does not translate to unethical.

      “If we breed thoughts such as yours”
      - What thoughts exactly? Thoughts that you disagree with?

      If we want to talk about being tolerant of others, why not we talk about the views that Josie’s exco had? Were we tolerant of them and their views? Do we even know what they were? Or did we judge them immediately just because the media reported that they come from a church that accepts homosexual persons but not their behaviour? Did we judge their intentions? Since when have we been able to look into their hearts and minds and judge others? And we did it not even based on their actions, but what unobjective media sources told us about them.

      We can safely say that the old guard won the EOGM vote because they had more influence over the media. One of the supporters, Margaret Thomas I believe, said so herself during the EOGM. That in itself is amoral as well, but when you consider the intention of such an amoral action – to seize control of the group and regain leadership where they legitimately lost it – it makes the deed immoral, unethical.

      God bless,
      Catholic Writer

  2. Catholic Writer,

    You had accused a writer of another blog (mrbiao) of not giving a balanced account; and yet you’re doing the same on your blog. Why do you despise the old guard so? Is it because you disagree with their viewpoint on homosexuality so much that it negates all the good work that they have done?

    Josie and her exco lost all credibility when they introduced Thio as the feminist mentor. They may not have not known one another, fine. But it was clear the only reason they stood for election was not because they wanted to continue the good work of AWARE, but because AWARE had dared classify homosexuality as neutral. If that had grated them so much, why not ask for a dialogue with the old guard and voice their concerns? Also, why the blantant dis-regard of the old guards, the firing of experienced personnel, the dissolution of the CEDAW committee, the installation of cctv’s? what about the overspending?

    You also say that you agree with Josie’s assertion that “the Old Guard of is letting gay activists use AWARE as a front.” Can you elaborate why you agree? What does the statement mean anyway?

    You commented on the EGM. I suggest that you check out different viewpoints – check out what others who have been there have to say. Unless you saw the proceeding from the start to the finish, and have read various viewpoints, you are not really in a position to pass judgements.

    Finally, why do you find the statement “homosexuality is neutral” so abhorrent? Is it because the bible and the church say so (in your opinion), or is it your own personal belief?

    • Hi Anthea,

      mrbiao specifically said in his post that he was giving it from “a totally non-biased point of view”, so I commented that his post is completely biased against Josie’s exco. But you’re right. I’m biased too. :) And I’m trying to learn not to be. I’ve learned also that unless I can point out what Josie’s exco did wrong, I too am equally unreliable to write anything about it.

      Josie and her exco did not introduce Thio as the feminist mentor; she spoke up on her own. One thing for sure is that Josie and her exco did not plan a takeover as the media put it and strongly reinforced. But you’re right, and I totally agree with you, that they should not have run for election because they did not seem to want to continue what AWARE has done, but merely to make a stand against the homosexuality intonations that AWARE has been giving. Josie and her exco certainly did a number of things wrongly, which have definitely caused people to vote against them in the EOGM. What, in your opinion, did the Old Guard do wrongly?

      Okay, to elaborate my point on the Old Guard letting gay activists use AWARE as a front. Looking at the CSE instructor’s manual, it is clear that part of their intention is to normalise anal sex among school children, to create a culture of acceptance for homosexual acts, and eventually, the homosexual lifestyle. This has been recognised by MOE after 7,000 people signed a petition that had been going around, asking MOE to relook at the CSE, which has resulted in AWARE’s CSE being suspended.

      Right from the start, I had already said that the entire AWARE fiasco has to do with the pro-gay vs anti-gay issue. Though a number of people had voted out Josie’s exco because of other reasons in the end, that has all been part of the pro-gay agenda.

      This so-called takeover of AWARE’s leadership is really an internal matter that should not have drawn so much attention in the media. But it did. If you remember the early media reports, the first thing that people found wrong with Josie’s exco – and which later drew so much attention – was that they came from the same church that was intolerant of homosexual behaviour. Why do you think this issue was brought up so early? Because the people who did the reporting already knew it – they were informed of it by supporters of the Old Guard. This has been what the matter is all about. Pro-gay members of AWARE, having seen that so many members of the new exco were against homosexuality, needed to do something about it – so they ousted the new exco through a coordinated and planned media assault on them.

      Another important thing to realise is that a significant number of people working in the media are members of AWARE, and probably supporters of the Old Guard, which is why we saw such a media bias against Josie’s exco. It’s not that Josie and her exco didn’t speak to the media; the media didn’t want to report what they said. That, unfortunately, has been a case of abuse of the power of the media, and MICA has spoken to the editors about it.

      You’re right that I didn’t go for the EGM, but I have spoken to people who attended it from start to finish – people who voted for and against the Old Guard. One thing that I have to say about all this is that the pro-gay camp really knows how to use the media, and if the anti-gay camp wants to stand a fighting chance, it too has to learn how to use the media to draw support – something which I think is sorely lacking here in Singapore.

      As for the final statement on “homosexuality is neutral”, I think it’s best to illustrate this point by asking you to imagine if your child comes up to you and says, “Dad (or Mum), I’m gay.” What is your immediate reaction? If you were a normal parent, your first reaction is anger, then denial. You’d be trying to find reasons why your child only thinks he (or she) is gay, and try to find ways to ‘cure’ him of it. Why? Not because you are against homosexuality, but because you love your child and you know what being gay means for him. No one wants to be gay if he can help it, because gay people face rejection all the time. They face persecution from others who don’t understand him. You will feel sad for your child because of this burden he has to bear by being gay.

      Homosexuality is not neutral; it’s negative. It’s not something a person wants to be if he can help it. To say it is neutral will lead children who are not gay, but going through a teenage phase, to think that he could be gay and that it is okay to be gay. It’s not – not because of what the bible or what the church says, but because it’s not a good thing to be gay in this society or this world. It’s going to put unnecessary difficulties on a child’s development and growth, particularly if he’s not really gay but just momentarily finds himself attracted to an older man.

      God bless,
      Catholic Writer

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