April 25, 2009
Disagree? Form own group
Founders say those who disagree with Aware's issues should form own group
By Nur Dianah Suhaimi
FOUNDERS and longtime members of the Association of Women for Action and Research on Friday slammed the new women in charge for the way they seized power on March 28.
Founder member and former nominated member of parliament Kanwaljit Soin said: 'It is not just a women's issue but the whole issue of how civil society actors behave in Singapore.
'If the new members do not agree with Aware's issues, then they should not join. There is plenty of room to start another organisation.'
In a statement, the old guard attacked the way in which a group of unknown new members showed up at the annual general meeting and put a set of new faces in charge.
If they were unhappy with Aware, they could have complained, invited Aware to a seminar to discuss its programmes, or even written to the media.
'Instead, these women joined Aware in the few months before the AGM and then voted their representatives into the executive committee - without giving any indication that they were acting together. They continued with this stance until Thursday when they told the truth.
'This cannot be the way forward for Singapore. We cannot have people acting like moral vigilantes running around and taking over established organisations.'
...... The old guard said: 'If Dr Thio and her mentees feel that Aware has strayed from its original aims, or that some of the programmes are unsuitable, then go ahead and criticise Aware, but do so openly.
'Better still, form their own association to offer parallel programmes with what they see as the right messages, and let the public choose which they prefer. Their motives and actions will then be visible to all, there will be transparency and accountability.'
I have a lot of respect for Kanwaljit Soin. Through the years, time and time again, I've come across her views on a variety of social issues. And I find that she speaks with a lot of clarity, conviction and good sense. In fact, when I was still a law student, I even had to study Kanwaljit's views. Her speeches and articles formed part of the Family Law syllabus at the NUS Law Faculty.
Today, Kanwaljit is once again her usual self. She slices through all the distracting smoke and fluff around the Aware saga, and gets straight to the heart of the matter. I agree fully with her. In my opinion, the new Aware ExCo has no credibility. They deserve no respect.
Yes, the new ExCo team employed a certain strategy and they won the Aware election. And yes, their strategy was constitutional and legally "correct". But it merely reminds me of the PAP's gerrymandering tactics - the way they brazenly redrew the maps, changed the electoral boundaries to their own advantage, and forced their way to election victories.
Those PAP tactics were also constitutional and legally "correct". But those tactics carry no sense of integrity and deserve no respect. At any rate, they won't gain my respect.
I feel exactly the same way about how the new ExCo members have invaded Aware. Their tactics are as honorable as a terrorist attack.
As you probably know by now, the new ExCo chairperson is Josie Lau. She works at DBS, marketing credit cards. Today, for what it's worth, I am going to make a small, symbolic gesture as a DBS customer.
I will call DBS and terminate my credit cards. The DBS person on the line will ask me why (they always ask for that kind of customer feedback). And I will say that it's because of their Head of Marketing, Josie Lau.
I will say that I have a very poor opinion of her behaviour in the Aware saga, and that for that reason, I have decided to stop using DBS credit cards. Furthermore I will request for my feedback to be given to DBS's senior management.
It's a matter of principle. I am only one customer. But I will do what I think is right.
I hope that those of you who share my views about the new Aware ExCo, and who happen to be DBS customers, will do the same. In addition, I hope that you will forward my blog post to your friends and colleagues, and urge them to do the same too.