Alvinology goes to the AWARE EGM

I attended the extraordinary meeting (EGM) of the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) yesterday.

I was very surprised by the huge turn out of nearly 3000 people. Singaporeans are a passive bunch who usually do not bother to stand out and be counted. In this instance, maybe the saga had fired up raw nerves as it involved the personal, touchy issues of sexuality and religion.

I arrived at Suntec at around 1.30pm with Rachel who was there to cover the event. There was already a long snaking queue all the way from the entrance at the fourth floor, down the stairs to the third floor! Interestingly, there’s also a Qin Shan (青山) Mother’s Day concert on the sixth floor – there were a lot of confused aunties and grandmothers concert-goers who got mixed up in the AWARE queue. The two very different group of ladies provided an interesting contrast.

Queue begins on the thirth floor
Queue begins on the thirth floor
The crowd was still flowing in even close to 2pm, the time the EGM is scheduled to begin
Crowd was still flowing in at close to 2pm, the time the EGM is scheduled to begin
The queue continues on the fourth floor
The queue continues on the fourth floor
Full view of the queue from the third to fourth floor
Full view of the queue from the third to fourth floor
Joining the queue
Joining the queue
Rachel with our friend, Lai Chow who is also an AWARE member
Rachel with our friend, Lai Chow who is also an AWARE member
Registration at the entrance
Registration at the entrance
Lots of reporters and cameramen milling outside the conference hall
Lots of reporters and cameramen milling outside the conference hall
The entrance
The entrance
Security was tight, with bag check conducted on all attendees
Security was tight, with bag check conducted on all attendees

To get into the conference hall, you have sign up as an AWARE member for S$40. I did not sign up as I did not want to pay. Hence I headed to the library at Esplanade to wait for Rachel. However, I did manage to get in at around 5.30pm when I got hold of one of the admission stickers.

The hall was only half filled when I got in and the AWARE new guards ex-co, led by Ms Josie Lau, the president were bombarded with fiery and piercing questions from the floor one after another. It was clear to me that the new guards’ supporters had left them in the lurch, unwilling to speak up for them, though willing to cast their votes and be counted.

Dr. Thio Su Mien, the “Feminist Mentor” who orchestrated the new guard takeover was public enemy number one last night. Whenever her name was mentioned, there will be loud jeering and booing. It was impossible for her to speak as the angry crowd will drown out her voice whenever she takes the mic.

Packed conference hall
Packed conference hall
Another crowd shot
Another crowd shot
Josie and her pussycats
Josie and her pussycats
Nominated Member of Parliament, Mr Siew Kum Hong
Nominated Member of Parliament, Mr Siew Kum Hong
Local celebrity, Ms Irene Ang takes the mic
Local celebrity, Ms Irene Ang takes the mic
Firing off at the new guards
Firing off at the new guards
Claire Nazar shoots off at the new guards
Zaibun Siraj shoots off at the new guards
The crowd will cheer heartily whenever potshots are made at the new guards and jeer whenever the new guards speak
The crowd will cheer heartily whenever potshots are made at the new guards and jeer whenever the new guards speak
Public enemy number one takes the mic
Public enemy number one takes the mic
A smirking Dr. Thio Su Mien, Feminist Mentor of Singaporean women
A smirking Dr. Thio Su Mien, "Feminist Mentor" of Singaporean women

Video recording of Dr. Thio Su Mien’s speech, via sqpixels:

The result were out at 8pm. A vote of no confidence to axe out the entire new guard ex-co passed by a margin of 1,414 to 761 votes. The new guards were given 5 minutes to consider their immediate resignation, but they only came back at 9.15pm. Nonetheless, the entire team resigned.

A new ex-co, led by Ms Dana Lam, the freshly minted AWARE president was elected by 9.30pm, thereafter the EGM was closed proper.

Frankly, I was quite taken aback.

I always thought the ones with the most extreme beliefs will be able to mobilise the largest support, given the level of fanatical extremes they will go to just to meet their objectives. The liberals and the moderates on the other hand, tend to be less confrontational and take a back seat to events.

This AWARE saga proved my perception wrong and I am quite heartened this is so.

Crowd elated that the new guard had lost
Crowd elated that the new guard had lost
Crowd goes wild
Crowd goes wild
Emotions run high
Emotions run high
A very happy lady
A very happy lady
A rare, tense moment when both the new and old guards shared the stage
A rare, tense moment when both the new and old guards shared the stage
The new guards returned to the stage briefly to announce their immediate resignations from the exco
The new guards returned to the stage briefly to announce their immediate resignations from the exco
Everyones happy the new guards have quit
Everyone's happy the new guards have quit
Lots of cheering all round
Lots of cheering all round
The newly elected exco, comprising of the old guards
The newly elected exco, comprising of the old guards
Constance Singam and Dana Lam in a hearty embrace
Constance Singam and Dana Lam in a hearty embrace
In a celebratory atmosphere
In a celebratory atmosphere
Members of the new exco, led by new president, Ms Dana Lam
Members of the new exco, led by new president, Ms Dana Lam
The wife of the late David Marshall, congratulating Hafizah Osman, a newly elected exco member
The wife of the late David Marshall, congratulating Hafizah Osman, a newly elected exco member
The new exco posing for media shots
The new exco posing for media shots
The new AWARE president, Ms Dana Lam, bombarded by the media
The new AWARE president, Ms Dana Lam, bombarded by the media
The old guard team
The old guard team
Another group shot
Another group shot
Speakers from the old guards
Speakers from the old guards
Packing up
Packing up
This in summary, is what AWARE should be about
This in summary, is what AWARE should be about

In any case, the good thing that came out of this whole saga is that most Singaporeans are now aware of AWARE, bringing an obscure civil society into national stardom. Hopefully, the freshly minted ex-co members will be able to leverage on this new-found level of awareness and brings AWARE to greater heights, not forgetting the fundamental principles of extending help and relief to all Singaporean women, regardless of race, language or religion.

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13 thoughts on “Alvinology goes to the AWARE EGM”

  1. Great pics and coverage..i only saw you much much later..Had to rush off to eat (before I faint) so didn’t come by to greet u.

    For a while, i was confused when i saw this huge group of aunties and uncles rushing up the escalator! i was wondering initially whether they were attending the EGOM!

    do you know that the male toilets at Suntec Conv were all usurped by the ladies? *grin*

  2. I don’t think Darth Thio is gone for good. You can see she and her Josie gang are so fervent that they are really doing the right thing you can bet they will be back. That COOS pastor also did not issue a clear apology. “I stand corrected” is not an apology at all and not an admission of his error.

  3. Angelia: I saw you too! πŸ™‚ But you were seated too far away for me to call out, but ya, Rachel and I rushed off after that too as we were starving. The EGM really overshot for way too long man.

  4. i don’t know what happened before this election this.

    but

    the new guards, i don’t support.
    “IM ON PAGE 73, RESPECT ME”
    “SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN”
    “RESPECT YOUR ELDERS” crowd goes”EARN THAT RESPECT:
    “LADIES AND GENTLEMEN LADIES AND GENTLEMEN LADIES AND GENTLEMEN LADIES AND GENTLEMEN LADIES AND GENTLE MEN …….”

  5. i’m still waiting to read an entry that’s not too biased. curious to hear what irene ang threw at the new guards. if i’m not wrong, she’s of the group with “extreme beliefs” and she’s gay (?). i’m not here to flame or be flamed. just really would like to know if anyone with the info cares to tell me. thanks.

  6. Wonder why nobody says anything about the rather unseemly rowdiness of the pro-old-guard crowd?

    I mean, it should be plain common politeness to listen through speeches, even if the speeches ARE crap and/or the speaker isn’t polite. Be the bigger person, that kinda thing?

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