03 May 2009

Fundie exco booted out of AWARE

A marathon extraordinary general meeting held on 2 May 2009 saw progressive and secular-minded women take back the Association of Women for Action and Research from a clutch of conservative Christians, who had wanted to turn the feminist group into an anti-gay vehicle.

1414 members voted for the motion expressing no confidence in the executive committee that seized power only a month before on 28 March 2009. 761 members supported the exco.

Proceedings were heated with many members wanting to speak, expressing their suspicions of the 28 March exco's motives and outrage at their stormtrooper behaviour since coming into power.

At various points in the meeting, society president Josie Lau and one other exco member said "Shut up" to the audience of about 3,000, and asked security guards to evict members from the room.

Here is Thio Su Mien, the one who orchestrated the take-over, trying to convince the crowd that she was a hero - "I'm on page 73"; "Respect your elders".

It was also revealed that the 28 March exco spent S$90,000 when the constitution required them to seek members' approval before spending above S$20,000.

After the no confidence vote, the 28 March exco disappeared from the hall. Members voted in a new exco headed by Dana Lam as president.


Anonymous said...

I remember Kanwaljit Soin
describing AWARE activists
as laid-back tolerant
personalities. (Caused their

Boy am I glad they know
when to be fierce!!!

Anonymous said...

Can anyone fill us in on
why there were delays
in the vote count results?

Anonymous said...

Their "contribution" to women's
welfare was a 90K bill!

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Anonymous 03 may, 01:41 -

I wasn't there so I can't swear it's true, but what I heard from someone there, and sending messages out during proccedings, was that the fundie exco refused to release the vote count. How that person knew what was happening behind the scenes, I don't know. So don't rely on what I said.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

During the EOGM, Josie Lau said that as of 1 may 2009, there were 3,000 members (source: Online Citizen). yet, only 2175 voted (1414 + 761).

Since there were only 300 members as at the 28 March 2009 AGM, about 2,700 joined after hte ocntroversy began. There couldn't have been many apathetic members among the 3,000.

Yet, more than 800 didn't vote. Maybe they weren't even in the hall.

Why? Who were they? Might they have been the Christians who originally supported the fundie exco and then changed their minds as their unsavoury methods and style showed?

wordmonkee said...

There are few prouder things in life than sharing a common space with more than 2000 Singapore women who care about equality for all and freedom of choice. We were strong, we were committed and we unequivocally showed that there is no place for bigotry in meaningful civil society. We have a voice and what a beautiful voice it is.

Anonymous said...

Comment taken from tomorrow.sg. The fundies may be licking their wounds right now but they will be back.

If it wasn't homosexuality, the Christians would have found another excuse to demonstrate their prowess. They have been doing this sort of things since time immemorial: the countless crusades, the Spanish inquisition, the Salem witch trial, the Scopes monkey trial, etc.

Homosexuality is just the latest substitute for accusation of witchcraft. Earlier on it would have been idolatry or paganism. If it wasn't sex education, the Christians could easily have targeted the teaching of evolution in school.

Had this happened two centuries earlier, the old guards of AWARE would be burnt at stake as witches; and Alex Au and Alfian Saat would be hanged, drawn and quartered as heretics. Thio Su Mien, Thio Li Ann, and Josie Lau are just playing out their roles as modern-day equivalent of the inquisitors.

All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.

Anonymous said...

Unless the 3000 odd members did not include associate-members; The 800 odd could be men who aren't allowed to vote.

Fargoal said...

I wish AWARE all the best. The Exco may want to bear in mind what Obama said in Chicago on the night of 4 November 2008 when he won the US Presidential election: "And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too." I hope AWARE will continue to listen to the many voices in society, especially when there are differences in views.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone confirm that
there were chartered busses
ferrying the red-shirts?

Anonymous said...

"Might they have been the Christians who originally supported the fundie exco and then changed their minds as their unsavoury methods and style showed?"

What I was surprised at was also
the amateurishness of the
Thiocrats. In hindsight, why
did anyone even doubt the inevitability of their downfall.

But as they say hindsight is 20/20.

But beware their spawn.

Anonymous said...

Not neccesarily - I know at least a handful of people who joined as members in the hopes of supporting the old guard, but weren't able to attend the egm, as well as Singaporeans/PRs overseas who registered so they'd be able to vote later if this continued to drag on.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Anon 03 May 03:48 -

Indeed! Homosexuality is just the latest of the selected targets. The extreme wing of Christianity seems to need an "enemy" to motivate their flock. People who have studied this phenomenon have noted that homosexuality didn't figure in any significant way until after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990. before that the enemy was "godless" communism - but obviously that had to be replaced after 1990.

And before "godless communism" it was the Blacks.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

After Obama's election, the constant refrain heard all over North America was "It's a beautiful day".

It's a beautiful day indeed in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Just to provide a more
familiar vocabulary
to Anon 03 May, 2009 03:48

Uniting against something
weak and that can't fight back.

Let's see, where else do we
see this?

In school we call them

But bullies can seriously
miscalculate!! Very entertaining
when that happens!!!!

Anonymous said...

To those whining about the
raw bare-knuckles approach of
the Old-Guard: the Thiocrats
reaped what the sowed.

Anonymous said...

The Thiocrats have also achieved a victory of sorts...they've left a group they don't approve of $90,000 poorer and with an expensive mess to clean up.

Anonymous said...

They were truly clueless and outclassed.

However, we should never underestimate the influence of determined idiots with a convenient source of supporters.

So, when can we start telling Today to stop legitimizing organizations like FotF by giving them a column? Is now a good time?

Anonymous said...

i have often wondered why people would become suicide bombers in Iraq. now I know after the AWARE and COOS debacle. there are people who think they are carrying out God's work and will do anything to achieve their deluded ends - lying, underhand, cruel, heartless things. They forgot LOVE and go after your humanity telling that the light in your heart is a weakness. DON'T believe these brain-washed fundies.
LIke 9-11, those who sacrificed their lives really believe by crashing their planes into buildings the virgin in heaven will be waiting for them.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree... the evangelical Christians will not just retreat after the AWARE setback. It will only make them more determined to succeed in their cause.

We must not let them invade into our space. Evangelical Christians have zero tolerance for others who do not share their causes and beliefs.

I speak from personal experience. I have evangelical Christians in my family.


Anonymous said...

To Anon (who commented at 03 May, 2009 14:52): I posed the same question to a friend who works for Caldecott publishing (which does or is involved with the publication of Today). He replied saying that FOTF's daily article on that paper is a paid column. Of course Today has the right to refuse their business. But that's up to their management lah.

Doublespeak said...

My friend remarked that there were still 761 votes in favour of the new exco, and it was scary there were so many supporting them.

Anonymous said...

Thio Su Mien said that “AWARE had become a SINGLE PURPOSE organisation overly concerned with promoting lesbianism". She blind to the fact that she had used AWARE as a platform for her one single obsession - her anti-homosexual agenda.

Karen said...

It is a beautiful day indeed, and from across the Pacfic I celebrate with the women and men in Singapore who have voted for (or supported in other ways) equality, dignity and respect.

There are Christians, and there are Christians. I hope this will not create a backlash against all Christians in Singapore. In spite of their good intentions (yes, I know this is debatable) overly zealous evangelicals can sometimes forget the true message of Christianity and what Jesus said when asked what is the most important commandment set by God:

"The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this: [...] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." (Mark 12: 29-31)Love, compassion, respect. I hope they remember these.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Doublespeak -

To be honest, at the start of the call for an EOGM, I, along with many of the old guard were pessimistic that there would be enough people to outnumber the church's clarion call.

761 was rather lower than I expected. If I had to make a guess at the start of April, I would have said 2,000.

And one more thing about the 761 who did show up - they mostly sat quietly saying nothing. Did they not have opinions of their own? For all the provocation of the numerous supporters of the old guard who peppered the fundie exco with questions and comments, did no more than 2 or 3 of the 761 have something to say in return? Did they see themselves as just sheep?

More. After they had cast their vote around 4:30, they started to leave. By the time the results were announced, at 8:10, many had left - like they were not really interested in the outcome. Like, oh we've done what we were told to do and now we can go home.

So, what should one read as the significance of 761?

Anonymous said...

Congrats to AWARE!!!! I am proud to have witnessed the historic occassion where civil society has saved Singapore from both the church and state on the night of 2 May.

As for the 761, i suspect that the numbers could have been a lot more. I may even speculate that some were even probably swayed to the old guard during the session.


Becca D'Bus said...

I am on the other side of the Earth and genuinely touched that so many people cared. This is so huge.

I wonder about a couple of things.

Did any of the red shirts change their minds during the the EOGM? I feel like if you look at the vote, the differing numbers on the 3 resolutions, some might have (though not many), more people voted on the resolution that the Josie Lau exco lacked experience for instance, so perhaps, the red shirts are less sheep like than we necessarily imagine.

That apathetic Singaporeans paid $40 and showed up and got in line and waited and voted.

This is huge!

Anonymous said...

I'm confused, so now Aware is pro or against lesbian?

Doublespeak said...

"To be honest, at the start of the call for an EOGM, I, along with many of the old guard were pessimistic that there would be enough people to outnumber the church's clarion call."

Yes me too. I was pessimistic about the outcome and found that 1414 vs 761 very very much exceeding my expectations.

"So, what should one read as the significance of 761?"

That some portion of these voters were obligated instead of voluntary? Thus the really against old guards votes should be a smaller number?

"And one more thing about the 761 who did show up - they mostly sat quietly saying nothing. Did they not have opinions of their own?"

Noticed this also. Would have expected the supporters of the Josie camp to speak up, made noise when the other camp was so loud and demonstrative. But they didn't. Odd and telling.

I read somewhere that the red-shirts came in ferried buses, left in the same manner and didn't have to queue to register?...

Just to point out: During the press conference with the Josie camp after they were defeated, Lois Ng explicitly asked about the "missing" votes, a subject which I see is also being discussed here.

The way she asked, it felt as if she's implying something there.

This is the feeling I get as, during their previous press conference at RTC, they had used this tactic to suggest things to think of (to the press and the public) instead of coming right out to say what they think.

Besides those who were unable to come (overseas), male associate members, H1N1 flu thus avoiding crowds and etc, some maybe what you have suggested, those Christians who were asked to join by their churches but later changed their minds.

But Josie Lau also mentioned that they stopped registration and there were many who couldn't make it in time to be registered and participate in the EOGM.

Perhaps Josie's camp expected a larger turn out from their supporters just like we did?

Doublespeak said...

Found the comment on TOC from article Chaos - “Sit down and shut up” (video):

"17) Chuihua on May 3rd, 2009 4.14 pm

I think there was a mastermind, though they kept insisting there weren’t. People in the red T-shirts come in buses, and have their stickers put on and didn’t have to queue for two hours! They walked in, sat for a while, cast their vote and left, without even engaging in discourse, or showing any signs of wanting to hear what the others are so unhappy about Josie Lau’s team. There must be a mastermind where the buses come from."

Simplesimon said...

To Anonymous, 23 May 16.58
Would not Ladies having Virgins be lesbianism even though they are gifts from heaven?
Anyway, I do think that the Ladies of the New (un to May 09)Exco and Ms Thio would wanna look forward to have lady virgins even if they be going to heaven.
heaven Forbid !!!

Anonymous said...

Dont forget Pastor Derek Hong.. the power behind the "throne"...

Anonymous said...

Yes congrats to AWARE & all those who cast their votes for the old guard, you are indeed brave women!

I support the jeerings cos Josie Lau played dirty during the EOGM right from the start by refusing to turn on the mikes, allowed her red t shirt supporters prority entry, encouraged her red t shirt supporters to shove & push old guard supporters as reported in the Straits Times.

Wondering which target Thio Su Mien is now lusting after, I'm very certain she is plotting now, this woman does not rest on her laurels, her misguided mission which she sees coming from God is all screwed up.

Perhaps Thio would hijack this global NGO based in Spore, World Toilet Organization, http://www.worldtoilet.org/contactus.asp. So convenient, based here in Spore some more earned some UN recognition & has global clout.

What do the rest of you think? Thio Su Mien can definitely think of inserting her gay agenda somewhere here by saying that toilets cannot be used as places for consensual sex by the gay community.

Anonymous said...

I've been to church with these types.

Most of the 761 are sheep. They can be safely discounted. They would be there due to peer pressure. When one leaves, all will leave together. :D

I wish Josie Lau & Gang the best. I hope they learn something positive from this.

Anonymous said...

Constant vigilance. That's what we ought to do especially now that Singaporean society and public space is slowly but surely being suffocated by fundies.

Anonymous said...

Through out this entire debacle, I'm kinda bemused that Thio Li-Ann (did I get it right) did not seek to use her influence to support her mum and her cronies in any way whatsoever.

Told by the PAP establishment to stay out of it perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Would the men (who have no vote) account for at least some of the missing votes? I understand that there were around 300 of them.

Then what about abstentions?

Vox Populi said...

Down with the Christians! They're all Fundies! Too many of them in Parliament, in Government, in business, in Singapore and in the world. Push back the Christian tide. Freedom from the Christians!

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Vox Populi's comment is outside acceptable speech.

Dan said...

Mind you, please be polite with Thio Su Mien as she is really talented. Check out http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=2997 Just do a word search on her mighty there and you can see why.

margiet said...

Someone asked why counting the vote took so long. It was because there were 3 ballot slips (we had tabled 3 reasons for the non confidence notion and the Exco chose, inexplicably, to put each reason on its own slip). So the slips were first sorted and then counted. Both sides had their own scrutineers, along with the Deloitte people.

As for the discrepancy between the 3,000 membership and the 2,100+ votes cast - that was because associate members (men, foreign women, minors) don't have voting rights, plus the ordinary members who were out of town.

seeseekay said...

I wonder how many of those who posted anti-christain comments are just what they are - christain bashers - rather than true supporters of Inclusiveness. Shouldn't Inclusive also include christains or are these self claim 'Inclusive' people willing to include those who agree with them?

Rachel said...

Some people have spent all their lives with only one tree; you can’t convince them that they are actually in a forest.

allytan2003 said...

does anybody know what their stance is on religions like Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism ?

Vox Populi said...

Ok, let me be more specific then... Down with the Christian Fundies! Down with the Christian Taliban! Acceptable now?

BareSheen said...

I am from across the crossway and have been following this saga with interest. Why? Maybe because I am an de-converted Christians (in other words, I used to believe but not anymore - thank god or maybe thank the flying sphagetti?) and I know exactly what they are thinking and trying to do. So misguided, it is sad.

I am proud of the old guard and those spunky ladies who spoke out. Congrates to you right thinking Singaporeans who must always ensure that society is secular and accommodating of all views and opinions.

One last word - relax Mr Au. In my view, Vox Populi language is perfectly acceptable. It shows some passion which is seriously lacking in many people. You should perhaps peep into a Malaysian blog. It is far more colourful but are we about to kill each other because of it? Come on, relax and speak out.

By the way, why so many "Anonymous" write? What are you guys afraid of? Senior MM? Come on, put a name down or at least a blog name.

月下影子 said...


From what I remember from Bible classes, the school pastor told us that all other religions are false, that they come to nothingness and thus are unable to save us (虚空 in the Chinese Language).

He also told us, when we pray, if we're "fated" to meet god, we will see an image of him appearing before us.

A friend who zealously preached to me had the following answer for me when I asked him if it's god's will that I don't believe in him: It's god's will you believe him in another life.

Sure, it may be just one person, but what if we asked every Christian this question, what kind of answers will we actually get?


A Tan said...

Spoke too soon of victory.

TSM, Josie and gang got the CSE manual out into public space.

The rest you know.