Currently, this word must be the hottest topic in Singapore. For the sake of those who are not in Singapore, let me give you some background information. AWARE is basically a woman NGO whose primary purpose is to promote gender equality. Like most Singaporeans, I have never bothered about it until the recent quarrel. The quarrel has aroused the interest of the nation the situation has become uglier by the day. How does this happen and what makes it so interesting to so many of us? I shall provide the story and some analysis of it.

It begun when the existing leaders were voted out of office and replaced by a new group. There was a sudden increase in membership just before the election and this give rise to the speculation that these new members joined just for the sake of taking over the organization. The media used the term “old guard” and “new guard” to describe the two opposing teams. The old guards cried foul and accused the new guards of promoting their religious and anti-gay agenda. It so happens that the new elected members are all Christians and are from the same church.

The battle line is drawn. On one side, we have the old guards who are seen as liberal and tolerant, while on the other side we have the new guards who are seen as conservative, anti-gay and having a secret religious agenda. Sounds like the classic good verses evil story. The cyberspace is full of conspiracy theories and most of them are not very friendly to the new guards. It is really getting very ugly out there.

There are even revelations that the new elected leaders received death threats. They had suffered fears for their families and their own safety. So, the question here is, do these Christian ladies suffer for the sake of righteousness or do they suffer out of plain stupidity? Here is my analysis.

Composition of the new leaders.
The new president and all the new exco members are Christians. Many even come from the same church. How will the public see this? It certainly looks like a clash between two minority groups. (Christians are a minority group in Singapore.) On one side there is a liberal and tolerant group. On the other side, there is a Christian group who may have a “Christian agenda”. Who is right and who is wrong? It does not take much intelligence to understand that the general public will prefer a liberal group than a specific religious group to serve them. The new group can say that they do not have any religious agenda but who is going to trust them? In the eyes of the public, the new group can never wash themselves clean from stigmas like “religious agenda”, “Christian agenda” or “anti-gay agenda”.

I believe most Singaporeans do not like the way the old leadership promotes homosexual lifestyles but I also suspect that they hate the idea of “Christian agenda” even more. So, the homosexual issue has become the equivalent of lesser evil, thanks to the effort of these Christian ladies.

What should the new leadership do instead? They should get the participation and support from women from all the major religious groups. It is only when the new guards have an executive council that consists of women from various religions, they can boldly proclaim that they represent the majority of Singapore women. The old guards will have a weaker ground to fight back.

The new guards wanted to stage a coup to take over the organization but they did not want to cross the religious boundary to make their coup a success. Instead they chose an easy way of recruiting only from their same church and faith. On this issue alone, I am sure that no matter how the meetings turn out, the new leadership will only be seen as villains. In extension, the public may view all Christians the same way.

The objective of the coup.
Based on the news I have read, it seems that the real objective on why those Christian ladies went through so much troubles is to stop AWARE’s program in promoting homosexual lifestyles in schools. They must be planing take over the organization and then cancel all these programs. Does this solve the problem?

If this organization can go to the schools to promote their homosexual agenda, so can any other. What if there are other organizations out there going to the schools to do the same thing? Will these ladies infiltrate these organizations and take over them? They will be very busy.

The real solution lies in the schools. The problem would not have existed if the schools do not participate in those activities. They should approach the authorities instead. It does not have to be a direct ban of those homosexual activities. We can just ask the government to prevent the schools from sending their students to those homosexual programs without the parents’ consent. Will this be more effective, simple and less strenuous than the current coup?

Contradictory statements from the new leaders.
When the new president was interviewed by Channel News Asia, she made the following statements:
1. The objective of the takeover is to bring AWARE back to its original focus, which is women welfare.
2. There was no secret pact among then elected leaders to take over the leadership because they did not know each other before.

However, yesterday’s news revealed that there is a mastermind who planned the entire takeover. She called herself the feminist mentor. The mentor revealed that the real reason for her action is to stop AWARE from promoting homosexual lifestyles. While the first statement of the president is not entirely wrong, she is not being clear about the homosexual issue. This gives the impression that she is hiding something.

The mentor had also revealed that she was the one who planned this. So, the takeover is pre-planned despite the earlier denial. The exco members may not have known each other before but they know the mentor. The mentor was the one who get them all together. So, the facts show that the event is orchestrated despite the president statement.

Based on the above three reasons, I conclude that this takeover is a failure. I wish the public will not lump all Christians with these women in the coup.


3 Responses to “AWARE”

  1. Emily Says:

    you might want to check out what the founders of Aware have to say about allegations on the org being pro-gay:

    They have to be all inclusive in their work, therefore they can’t have a religious agenda. Perhaps those with a religious agenda should set up their own organisation?

  2. Yeap Chee Seng Says:

    Maybe they prefer an easy way out.

  3. Abel Says:

    Like Chee, I had very little knowledge on what Aware does before this.

    On what grounds are the old guards promoting homosexual lifestyle to the students in the school? This is an unverified assumption, and this is what the ‘new guards’ base their entire take-over on. Somehow they had been switching their ‘testimonies’ to ‘yes’ and then to ‘no’ and’ and that gives them reduced credibility.

    This issue aside, the way this was ‘executed’ is very ‘un-Christian’ and I agree with Chee that all they had achieved thus far is to drag the name of Christ and Christians through the mud, just as Islamist extremists had for Islam. While I can’t judge, if the reasoning the Christian fundamentalists used was to follow in the laws/rules (allegedly) of Christ, they could have well sinned in the name of Christ, although they had denied that.

    All in all, you can’t expect to be trusted if you don’t do things above board in a civil and non-profit organisation, just as the Ren Ci saga had shown. You had to do things that literally shut the mouths of every single reasonable individual. As the Chinese saying goes, you must do things to the point that everyone is ‘heart pacified, mouth pacified’. This is something for some reason the ladies at the new exco failed to realise. Every single step and action they had taken so far served to galvanised the notion that they have a hidden agenda.

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