Finally Aware

I was at the Aware EGM today. Honestly, I only started to read up on the controversy surrounding the women’s rights group about a week ago, and joined as a member on Friday. I really wanted to hear what both sides had to say and I figured this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

To me, the EGM revealed the most beautiful and the ugliest sides of human nature. I saw how the old guard fought so courageously, with so much dignity and grace – not for power, money or fame – but for the good work of Aware to continue benefiting disadvantaged women, regardless of race, religion, and sexual orientation. They had goodness and truth in them, so they had nothing to fear and nothing to hide. The fact that many of them could stay calm and composed; making strong, sensible arguments despite all the false accusations and disrespectful language (“Shut up and sit down!” – I’m sure God would have approved of that) directed at them, was very admirable.

I also saw how the new guards were consumed with fear, anger and delusion as many members of the audience demanded truthful explanations for the uncountable misdeeds they have committed – which they couldn’t give, unsurprisingly. They were often rendered speechless when faced with questions from supporters of the old guard, and many of us shouted “Answer, answer!”. Hey, I’m quite proud of how civilised everyone was, minus the ones on stage – there were no physical fights, no namecalling, no personal attacks, despite all the injustice the old guard had to suffer.

Guilty of having told lie after lie, all they could do was to a) direct questions to the male legal counsel whom they hired with our money b) distract the audience from the crux of the issue by highlighting trivial, irrelevant details like “we slept at 4am everyday” (when what we really wanted to know was why they neglected to seek approval from other members for spending more than $20,000!) c) tell more lies.

There were just too many inconvenient truths that they didn’t have the moral courage to admit. Worse, they were unrepentant and frightfully arrogant.

This is not just about seeing homosexuals as human beings deserving of the right to love, be loved and pursue freedom like everyone else, it’s not just about religious bigotry: even if they were perfectly secular and accepting of homosexuals, I would vote them out of office – simply because the methods they employed to take over Aware have been deeply insidious and disturbingly underhanded. It’s a case study of McCarthyism in the Singapore context: they made use of loopholes in a weak Constitution, stripped longtime members of their roles, discrediting and misrepresenting them. These corporate highfliers – they took care to emphasize their educational and career achievements on one PowerPoint slide each – were visibly obsessed with what would probably make them high achievers in the corporate world: unscrupulousness, deception, and sheer dishonesty. Their orchestrated takeover of Aware has undeniably given Christians a bad name and has fanned feelings of distrust and suspicion towards members of this faith. This is especially so amongst people who aren’t well-informed of the different denominations within the Christian faith.

It just takes one group of deluded fundamentalists to ruin the decades of  interfaith work done by all religious groups since the racial riots. But I’m glad to see many real Christians (ie. those who adhere to the true teachings in the Bible) stand up and denounce this group.

It was interesting to see how passionate supporters of the old guard formed a long line to make their case – some waited 1.5 hours before they could speak – while supporters of the new guard (they sat in front of me) just sat passively in their seats – clapping occasionally when Josie says things like “Why can’t we do this like civilised people?”.

I wonder what went on in their minds. “Why am I here ah? Leg so tired from all that ushering and pretending to be friendly. Josie is marketing VP but dunno why can’t answer their questions hor. God bless her. Those old guard so rowdy, clap so loudly and scream somemore… very unwomanly leh. Call Josie liar somemore! (That’s me.) Shoot so many tough questions at them!  But God will bless them. Actually… I think I’m here cos my cell group leader told me to come? Aiya got free bus mah.” Something along these lines?

Anyway, I feel touched and charged with hope to see so many intelligent, talented, compassionate women and men stand up for justice to be served. It probably jerked many of us out of our apathy, although many people around me remain unconcerned about this issue.

I am reminded by this saga that evil will never triumph the good, and that most people in Singapore are still able to tell right from wrong. That’s better news than the very ungraceful (yet extremely gratifying) exit by those corporate witches.



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