30 April 2009

Civil society in a secular society

1. Lessons from Aware

Like a pebble thrown into a stagnant pond, the takeover of Aware continues to create ripples in Singapore society. If Aware's previous leaders were caught off-guard, Singaporeans too were caught flat-footed and intellectually unprepared to grasp the real issues at hand.

This has been a learning journey for all of us. If anything, we're learning the value of civil society. By examining our personal moral outrage provoked by the negative example of Feminist Mentor's takeover, we are all rediscovering the unspoken behaviour and fundamentals that nurture civil society and make for a healthy polity.

We are encouraged by the near-unanimous agreement between the blogosphere and the senior editors of the Straits Times on the value of civil society, and how the takeover offends every sensibility we hold about civil society to the point of threatening its very concept, if not its existence.

2. Anger and its solutions

The seething anger on the ground is fed by the realisation that despite breaking every tenet of civil society, Feminist Mentor and her G9 may walk away with the organisation scot-free, unaccountable to its stakeholders, avoiding all sanctions from any legal, state, or even clerical jurisdiction.

Operation Leper prefers to approach the issue this way: As this group of people refuse to play by the rules of civil society, they shouldn't be invited to play the game at all. Operation Leper urges you instead to work towards preventing their appointment to future leadership roles in politics, voluntary/social welfare groups, and NGOs.

Operation Leper does not support efforts to remove these people from their day jobs, intimidate them, or to send threats to them.

If you are angry, do write to them civilly to express your disappointment with their stealth takeover, their unilateral purges during the communications lockdown of Aware, or their short circuiting of civil discussion. Please do not send mail to their personal addresses. Please communicate with them directly, and not with their employers.

Operation Leper has to date issued a total of one boycott call, that of Lois Ng's Studio You Pte Ltd. Sam Ho rightly grasps our intentions: Studio You Pte Ltd is a company owned by Lois Ng. We object on moral grounds to the participation of this entrepreneur's participation in the takeover of Aware, and therefore call for the boycott of this entrepreneur's company and products.

3. That religious issue

Here at Illusio, a decision was taken not to allow discussions about the religious aspect of the takeover; recent developments and revelations have confirmed some of the theories and speculation floating around the rumour vines. The ban is now lifted.

One thing we note with unease is a growing discourse on the blogosphere arguing that religion has no place in pluralistic secular/civil society.

Let's look at what civil society entails again: it is the conglomeration of free, uncoerced human association and its set of relational networks. In a theocratic state, faith-based affiliation would not be an uncoerced human association, and hence not be part of civil society - whereas it will be, in a multi-faith secular society. Similarly in a modern state, the forces of capital are so totalising that they would not be considered part of civil society - whereas the various guilds and free trading cities of the Hanseatic League would be during their day.

Like it or not, religion is part of Singapore's multi-confessional secular society. People have the right to voice their opinions and beliefs, even if these are rooted in religious conviction. Civil and honest public discussion must be encouraged, even if certain speakers in the polity's discussions make their stand through a prism of their personal conviction.

The takeover of Aware and ensuing allegations of churches engaging in an Aware mass recruitment effort may suggest that certain religious considerations and affiliations are on the verge of becoming a totalising force, one that undermines the uncoerced associations and networks of civil society.

Currently, Singapore is a multi-confessional secular state. Its secularism should not be confused with the laïcité system practised in France or Turkey. A trend of the totalisation of religion may push the state to impose laïcité in the polity, to preserve its secular nature. And let me warn secularists and atheists that the experience of laïcité in France and Turkey has not been a happy one at all.

28 April 2009

Aware EGM change of venue

Post updated 30 April 2009

Official announcement here.

Aside from the change to Suntec Exhibition Hall 402 Singapore Expo Hall 2, there are other things to note:

"Admission and registration would (sic) be from 12.00 noon to 2.00 p.m. on Saturday, 2nd May 2009"

This means people will be admitted into the expo hall beginning Saturday noon. If the hall should overfill by the time you arrive, good luck.

Because the Aware Constitution states that "At least one quarter of the total membership of the society or 25 members, whichever is the lesser, present at a general meeting shall form a quorum."

Be there at 12 noon or be prepared to face the possibility of being locked out because the hall is deemed full and the quorum has been reached.

"It is mandatory to show your NRIC for admission and registration."

And don't forget to bring your membership card, or a printout of your Aware registration and payment forms, please.

"Messrs Rajah & Tann have been appointed to act as AWARE's legal advisors to attend the EGM to be convened on 2nd May 2009 to address legal queries relating to, and raised during, the EGM including the matters intended to be transacted, AWARE's constitution and meeting law and procedure."

Aware's June 2006 constitution does not provide any guidelines concerning how the meeting should be conducted. Who decides which speakers are allowed to speak during the EGM? Who decides how much time is given to speakers? Who sets the rules for how the EGM will be conducted?

If there is a filibuster, will it be allowed?
If there is a no questions, no discussion, just vote meeting, will it be allowed?

Lawyers will be useful. Do you have one on your side?

27 April 2009

A message from Josie Lau

The silence is broken

Go to the link for her full letter. I'm just going to quote parts here.

Dear Valued Members

Since my election as President on 14th April 2009, I have received intense media attention. A group of AWARE members has gone public with various allegations and have called for an EGM for the specific purpose of removing me and my team. We have only been in office for less than 20 days.

You have been in office for less than 20 days, 20 days during which no one knew your agenda or programmes. 20 days during which sub-committee heads were summarily dismissed without explanation. 20 days of a communications lockdown following a bizarre AGM where you were elected by a coordinated vote of more than 100 new members, without explaining your agenda, programmes, or even where you came from ("Hi! Feminist Mentor sent me to take over your organisation!")

I am a woman seeking to serve other women in Singapore. Like you, I have struggles. I do not have all easy answers to the many hard questions that life throws up. No one does.

Your easy answer, if I recall during the press conference, was Blame the gays! Scary lesbians are taking over Aware! They're promoting sapphic depravities to our children in school, and encouraging them to explore their bodies!

However, we should not be passive where we can band together to work for positive change. There are many things worth protecting and fighting for.

Given your ferocity during the press conference as well as how much time you devoted to the evil lesbionic issue, we know what you are fighting for, Josie =D

We want to make a positive difference to your lives and to our society. A good place to start is to help the many distressed women affected by the current economic crisis.

Whatever happened to Project Wind Beneath My Wings, Josie? Did someone tell you it was out of step with the concerns of actually-existing women affected by the actually-existing economic crisis? That it sounded at best, a vanity project for FM and her G9? Why aren't you selling the virtues of Wind Beneath My Wings now?

We are dedicated towards continuing our role as an NGO to ensure the effective implementation of CEDAW standards. We want to see abstract standards translated into meaningful policies which directly affect our lives and well-being. We will constructively engage with all interested governmental and non-governmental agencies, to progressively bring this goal to pass.

Still no idea why Braema was summarily dismissed as CEDAW subcommittee head without reason. Given that FM's G9 had taken over AWARE for less than a week before the termination, and that you've never had any discussion or even meeting with Braema before terminating her, one has to wonder about your competence as a group.

I hope to see you at the upcoming EGM where we will present preliminary details of our programme and projects.

Wow. Just wow. Saying this now just begs the question: how exactly did you and your friends get elected/appointed to an exco without presenting any preliminary details of your agenda and projects? Why wait more than 20 days AFTER your election before anyone knows what your agenda and projects for Aware are? Why shouldn't we know this DURING your election?

AWARE belongs to you.

You, your fellow churchmates from COOS, and Feminist Mentor's network of concerned parents!

The law of eternal return

1. I am proud to be Feminist Mentor's feminist mentor

As my readers know - and the random AnonyMouse trolls ignore - I was against the boycott of DBS during the FOTF Singapore affair.

Considering that there was no logical reason to sanction DBS for supporting FOTF Singapore in its honourable project to build a school for disabled children and its moderation into a progressive civil society actor, it was clear that there was no just cause for the boycott action.

Certain words uttered back then are now even more relevant than ever now, during this Aware saga:

The boycott campaign by the gay activists only serves to make such change and moderation impossible. Moreover, their actions can only encourage their opponents to stage reprisals in the same vein: namely, scuttling any positive social projects (HIV awareness, testing, drug subsidies, anyone?) by objecting to the mere presence of the gay activists and gay organisations involved in these projects.

According to the rulebook of Alex Au and his facebook minions, the proper response for anyone opposed to PLU activism is to scuttle any community service project *just because* of the involvement of the gay activists - despite whatever merits that community service project has, and despite its non-relation to gay activism.

This is the lesson that Alex Au and his facebook padres want to teach FOTF Singapore. This is the lesson that will undo the very concept of civil society.

And my warning and prediction has come to pass with the takeover of Aware and Dr Thio's rationale for her operation. In a strange way, I am proud to be Feminist Mentor's feminist mentor.

But just as I called for the seppuku of Alex Au and his gay activist allies, and their exile from activism of ANY KIND, I call for the seppuku of Dr. Thio and her group of 9, and their voluntary withdrawal from AWARE. If they do not heed this advice, Operation Leper will continue to monitor and block their appointment to future leadership posts in politics, voluntary/social welfare groups, and NGOs.

2. All this has happened before; all this will happen again

It is very charming how Feminist Mentor and her Group of 9 continue to conflate the ideas of democracy and due process with pro forma legal observances, fairness with legalness.

It's even more charming that Feminist Mentor and her Group of 9 insist the media and commentators not use the word "takeover" to describe their operation. What delicacy!

Any observer with a smidgeon of knowledge of recent history would realise that all this has happened before; all this will happen again. This knowledge, if widespread, would have been as much a source of embarrassment of FM's G9 as the republication of the addresses of their workplaces.

I speak of the venerable tradition of takeovers of churches and NGOs by other churches. Starting in the 1970s in America, it is practised by (1) ambitious para/megachurches, (2) political-church conglomerations, and even (3) the tiny parish next door that doesn't like the OTHER tiny parish next door.

Non-denomination and Episcopalian parishes as well as NGOs in the United States, UK, and Australia have been taken over in a predictable pattern that tends to include the following:

A sudden jump of membership prior to elections (3)
Surprise turnout overwhelmingly votes into office unknown candidates (3)
The first rationale of taking over: Previous leaders were incompetent, look at the declining membership over the years (1, 2; see Institute on Religion and Democracy)
Second rationale of taking over: Outrageous claims that previous leaders had a homosexual agenda (2; IRD)
After taking over: Purge all administrators, leaders of sub-committees (1, 3)
When questions continue to arise: Change the locks, call in more forces (3)

Of course, it's interesting to note that none of these actions constitute "Christian governance" as we understand it.

All this has happened before; all this will happen again. The least we could do is be intellectually honest and call a takeover a takeover.

24 April 2009

Group of 9 comes clean...

1. But are full of fail

After some weird events, the Group of 9 held a press conference very, very late last night.

Maybe we should call them Group of 10, now that Thio Su Mien has come out as the broker of the takeover, and acknowledged it was really a takeover.

I will leave Corinna Lim and the old guard to rebut the G9's hilarious inaccuracies and outright ignorance of Aware's programmes.

It's a laundry list of fail: at the top of my head, the G9/10 seems to interpret Aware's addition of outreach programmes to lesbian women as becoming a "single purpose organisation overly concerned with promoting lesbianism".

This is even more fail if we recall that just a few days earlier... Josie Lau described Aware as an overextended organisation with too many purposes: "What the new committee wants to do is that, like any good corporation, if you’ve diversified too much, consolidate."

Another high point of fail: mistaking the talk Constance Singam gave at Indignation 2008, hosted by Sayoni... as a talk hosted by SgButterfly.

The new exco's actions have been so surreal, Operation Leper is open to the idea that perhaps their members have proven that they are most suited to appointment as writers for sketch comedy shows on television. And more than open to the idea that it may have to rename itself as Operation Give Them The Noose. Or Operation Let Them Make Us Laugh On TV.

2. But demand privacy

But the most satisfying fail moment in the conference? The mention of Operation Leper. The Group of 9 alleged to have received death threats, invasions into their privacy, boycott calls, and then moved on to mention their objection to our initiative, because we named Lois Ng's company address.

We are surprised at their objection to the boycott. As civil society wannabe-honchos, I'm not sure they realise that boycotts are part and parcel of day to day life in the polity. I'm not sure Lois Ng realises that I got her company address from her company's website, as well as from Google and Google maps. This is all public information, and easily available. So is, for example, the list of vendors who carry her company's merchandise.

But there is a lesson to be learnt from all this - Aristotle has a nice saying which I'll paraphrase here: one's true character can be judged from how they behave when no one is looking.

Or when they think no one can see what they're doing.

Somehow, I do not think Lois's objections to having her company details published bode well about her character.

3. But there can never be reconciliation

The language at the conference would be a major indicator. I will leave other blogs to discuss the language used, verbal and otherwise.

Here, I would like to point out the conference fits within the strategy of G9/10. As observers have universally pointed out, the G9/10 modus operandi was that of stealth, non-transparency, silence, and stonewalling while holding the organisation to a communications lockdown during their ongoing purges of key sub-committees.

Why the conference then? Why the sudden loquaciousness, the sudden urge to make their motivations known, their condemnations of Aware's actions, when they have taken great efforts to hide all these at the takeover AGM, during the purge, and even towards the press in their earlier media interviews?

If they could afford to be this open and upfront now, why not earlier? Why not during the AGM? If they had been this open at the AGM, their victory by numbers would have far more legitimate, attracted much less condemnation, and their open discussion leading to the election victory would have been just a normal interaction of civil society.

The key lies in the final lines of the Channelnewsasia report:

The team will go ahead with the extraordinary general meeting planned for May 2 and is looking for a new venue to accommodate its burgeoning membership. It is now 880 and still growing.

The conference is the martyr video moment of the G9/10. Faced with certain defeat, they want the entire world to know why they did it, before their takeover goes down in flames. They want the entire world to know YES, it was a well-organised takeover, it involved going behind the scenes to garner support from various networks, and then mustering the necessary number of minions to vote them into the exco. And of course they want the entire world to know they did it for the greater good.

Classic martyr video moment, because they do know their own numbers, and these numbers do not account for the 880 figure staring at them in the face.

Classic martyr video moment, because the conference is their public call to arms, their last ditch attempt to rally the numbers from outside of their networks. Me? I'm surprised that they needed to do this. In a straight numbers fight, the Church is always able to out-recruit and out-organise any other secular civil society group or movement.

Implications? The depth and extent of active support for the G9/10 takeover is far less than we thought.

22 April 2009

What does religion have to do with anything?

It was never about religion

Gentle readers: from the blogs you've been reading about the Aware takeover, how many of them make religion the issue? How many of them invent religious epithets for the group of 9? As with Sam, we note the prevalence of hate speech against a certain religion in the dominant discourse, and express our disconcert and disapproval of the vituperative language. We note the use of a certain epithet used by a certain Mr Yawning Bread. We will not repeat or link it here, out of decency and taste.

The religious affiliation of the group of 9 are no concern ours. Do not mistake Illusio for any of the websites or newspapers attempting to make hay out of the religious issue.

All comments attempting to rake up anti-religious sentiment or discuss the religious persuasion of the group of 9 have been and will continue to be deleted.

At Illusio, the moral outrage comes from the manner of the takeover, the behaviour of the group of 9 at the AGM and after the AGM. The issue for Illusio is the non-transparency of the group of 9, its subversion of the democratic process, the undisguised hostility of its takeover, the purge it has conducted since assuming power, and its blatant disregard for the open rules of civil society.

To paraphrase someone: I know of no religion that will condone this!

What do you do with people like this? Some suggest Operation Leper sounds like a thousand angry sharks jumping over the blogosphere, that it is too vicious...

But what would you do to a group of 9 who has done all this?

They won fair and square, right? Right?

We note with concern the political illiteracy prevailing in the discourse of Aware, where it pertains to the oft-repeated claim that the takeover was 'democratic' or 'legitimate'.

We identify this as illiteracy due to the fundamental inability of these commentators to distinguish between a victory achieved by pro forma adherence to Aware's constitution and a victory achieved through a fair and transparent election.

A takeover of any NGO, society, church, or listed company must - out of pragmatic and strategic concerns - be pro forma legal. Yet a takeover where membership rolls have been stacked and leaders pushed through without any honest and open discussion (thanks to the numbers) can only be seen as morally illegitimate. Immoral, even. Or in civil society terms, very much unhelpful to the maintenance of its values of openness, fairness, and transparency.

The charge of political illiteracy is made also on the grounds that similar hostile takeovers of NGOs and church have been occurring for the past 2 decades in other countries, with the appropriate uproar and condemnation - and yet our commentators are content, even adamant on not seeing evil where it clearly lies.

Yes they won according to the rules. Corporate raiders also make sure they win according to the rules. NGO and church raiders also make sure they win according tot the rules. But clearly, there's a difference between following the rules, and resorting to every trick and subterfuge in the book while following the rules. The difference is how your victory smells.

But what would you do to a group of 9 who has done all this?

I know of one religion at least, that would say:

But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you.

Even the Bible prescribes sanctions against the immoral.

20 April 2009

Operation Leper: Lois Ng & Studio You

Lois Ng was part of the group of 9 who took over the AWARE executive committee with the help of more than 100 surprise new members at its April AGM, in a non-transparent and hostile takeover that has extended to a full scale purge of key sub-committees and a communications lockdown in the organisation.

Operation Leper monitors who they are working for, which voluntary, social, or welfare organisations and enterprises they join, and who hires them - and suggests you too can exercise your power as a citizen to oppose and impose sanctions on the group of 9.

Lois Ng is a social entrepreneur who set up Studio You. The outfit is a registered private company operating in the charity/welfare sphere, employing people with disabilities to make products, which are then sold commercially at various places.

Their products include - wedding gift items, novelty items ($500 lacquered boxes with images of MM Lee on them), and various and sundry handcrafted tile items.

These items are sold at counters at Lim's Art & Living at Holland Village, The American Club, Shangri-La Hotel gift shop, Singapore Art Museum gift shop, Times NewsLink at Changi Airport Departure/Transist Lounge at Terminal 1.

Operation Leper advises supporters of civil society to
1. Boycott all Studio You products

2. Make written and verbal representations to Lim's Art & Living, The American Club, Shangri-La Hotel gift shop, SAM gift shop, and the Terminal 1 Times NewsLink counter.

a. Protest the non-transparent, hostile, and destructive takeover of AWARE; state your disapproval of the role the founder of Studio You played in this takeover;

b. Firmly and politely object to the shop's display of the Studio You merchandise;

c. Make known your refusal to buy the merchandise, and preference for the shop to withdraw its display of the merchandise.

Contact details:
Lim's Art & Living: 211 Holland Ave #02-01 Singapore 278967. Tel: 64671300
The American Club: 10 Claymore Hill, Singapore 229573. Tel: 6737 3411
Shangri-la Hotel Singapore: 22 Orange Grove Road, Singapore 258350. Tel: 6737 3644
Singapore Art Museum: 71 Bras Basah Road, Singapore 189555. Tel: 6332 3222
Terminal 1 Times NewsLink: Terminal 1, Departure/Transit East #021-01. Tel: 6543 0712
Studio You Pte Ltd: 1 Lorong 23 Geylang, High Point Social Enterprise Ark, Blk 4 #01-11/12, Singapore 388352. Tel: 9816 7747

Lois Ng and the group of 9 must never be appointed to future leadership posts in politics, voluntary/social welfare groups, and NGOs. Any voluntary, social welfare group, or NGO that hires them will be opposed by Operation Leper.

They have proven that they are more suited to appointment in condo management committees; let's help them get there and stay there, where their skills at organisation subterfuge will be much appreciated and sought-after.

18 April 2009

Operation Leper

With the outrageously illiberal, undemocratic, and unprincipled takeover of AWARE, the NGO is now headed by a group whose behaviour and modus operandi runs counter to the principles of civil society. No serious operator in Singapore civil society will see AWARE under its new, mysterious, unknown, sneakily-elected through a hostile takeover leadership, as part of civil society.

We do not know - though some are making the effort to guess - whose agenda the new AWARE exco is serving. We do not need to know, and we do not need to care.

Through their actions, they have declared war on the idea of civil society, preferring to teach us the lesson if you don't agree with your foes, you should just take them over instead of openly discussing your differences. And then pretending to be the aggrieved party while conducting a purge of the ranks during a communications lockdown in the organisation.

Civil society needs to send a clear and loud signal to these clowns that their behaviour is wrong, unacceptable, and intolerable.

I hereby announce OPERATION LEPER. Henceforth, we will constantly remind everyone about these people, monitor who they are working for, which organisations they join, and who hires them. These characters are poison to civil society. If they are hired or appointed by advocacy, voluntary, or political groups, we will oppose their employers. It is our intention to bar them from future roles in politics and civil society.

On the Operation Leper list are:
Josie Lau Meng-Lee (Vice-president of consumer banking group cards and unsecured loans, DBS)
Charlotte Wong Hock Soon (Principal, Renewal Organisation Effectiveness aka ROE, 61 Jalan Remaja, Bamboo Grove Park. phone: 6763 0312)
Jenica Chua Chor Ping (Management Consultant, SAP. hotline: 6890 1088)
Sally Ang Koon Hian (Partner, Sally Ang Ebenezer & Co, at 7 Temasek Blvd #06-03, phone: 68844146)
Maureen Ong Lee Keang (CPA, former SembCorp Logistics CFO)
Catherine Tan Ling Khim (CFA, exco member, CHIJ alumna organisation)
Irene Yee Khor Quin (CFA, Life Planning Associates, at 80 Marine Parade Road, #07-01 Parkway Parade. Phone: 6344 2781 email: service@lpa.com.sg)
Lois Ng (Entrepreneur, Studio You Pte Ltd, at 1 Lorong 23 Geylang, High Point Social Enterprise Ark, Blk 4 #01-11/12, Phone: 67477764)
Peggy Leong Pek Kay (Lecturer, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, School of Humanities)
Dr Alan Chin Yew Liang (General Practitioner, Lifeline Medical Clinic)

It is our desire that these operators never find appointment in any advocacy or voluntary organisations ever again.

16 April 2009

AWARE: a civil society primer

1. Where PN Balji doesn't get it, once again

A paid hack for the whiteshirts veteran journalist, P N Balji is now a political appointee the director of the Asia Hack Academy Asia Journalism Fellowship, a quango set up for aggrandisement of the gahment and its hacks joint initiative by the Temasek Foundation and the Nanyang Technological University.

As a journalist, Balji is clearly cognisant of the wider civil society in which AWARE operates. He comments on the recent stealth takeover during its AGM by a group whose motives, agenda, and rationale for launching the takeover have not been revealed to the media, ordinary members of AWARE, and least of all to attendees at the AGM. Claiming that "the ladies at AWARE do not seem to get it", Balji does a David Carradine, reminding everyone that it's all about clash of ideas!

The silly old guard who got outfoxxed and outgunned should not be "furious" "sore losers" - if they want to take back their organisation, they should engage in a clash of ideas! If the old guard are upset at the sneaky nature of the takeover, they must take them on and show why they are no good for the future of AWARE.

Silly, silly old PN Balji obviously doesn't get it, despite shaking his avuncular finger at the "old", "sore", "upset" "losers" (btw, NICE JOB slamming the old guard and casting them as emotional whacko females, MR BALJI!!!!1111 I luvs how subtle you can get!).

One wonders why he's preaching the good old civil society value, the clash of ideas, to the old guard. If I'm reading the esteemed Mr Balji right, the onus is on the old guard to commit itself to a clash of ideas and show AWARE members that it deserves to get the organisation back.

As opposed to having the onus on the new guard to commit itself to a clash of ideas at the AGM itself - instead of stacking the meeting with their minions and getting themselves elected without a candid discussion of what they stood for, how they differed from who they sought to replace, and why they were no good for the future of AWARE.

But just so you know, PN Balji has more issues with the old losers than the new interlopers.

2. Clash of ideas - once more into the fray

But bless the pox-ridden heart of PN Balji! Deep down in his black soul, the man realises the sanctity of civil society and its core values.

Let's review: civil society is the conglomeration of free, uncoerced human association and its set of relational networks, formed for family, faith, interest, ideology. These networks would include interest groups, various clubs, labour unions, social movements, citizen advocacy groups and others.

The health of civil society depends on its constituents to freely and civilly engage in the clash of ideas that PN Balji so cherishes. It doesn't matter who you disagree or agree with, out of whichever ideology or faith - what matters is the freedom to engage, disengage, to foster patterns of civility in the polity, to create a sphere of social action independent of any totalising force.

Let us apply to the case of the AWARE takeover, the concept of civil society and its basic requirement for an open, honest, protected clash of ideas.

Much of the online wanking tossers - gays, conservatives, pseudo shock jocks, or fashionistas simply trying to grab recognition as serious political commentators - have come up with praises for the takeover - it worked, things like that happen in condo committee AGMs, this shows they're organised and effective (AND READY ON DAY ONE!)

I would not have believed that there are people who could be more blind than the esteemed PN Balji. But what we have here, is a failure to understand the concept of civil society and its underlying fundamentals. Civil society cannot exist if people stop talking to one another. Civil society cannot exist if people resort to violence. Civil society cannot exist if people are more interested in secretive, numerical-based power struggles instead of the clash of ideas.

The new AWARE exco did not behave as if AWARE was a civil society group. They behaved as if it were some condo committee. The new AWARE exco were the opposite of open, refusing to explain themselves in the AGM, or to offer what they saw was wrong with the old gang, or right with themselves. The new AWARE exco gave perfunctory speeches about their belief in the tenets of feminism, so perfunctory no one believed it was their real agenda. The new AWARE exco shot first, then promised to talk later. We're still waiting for them to give a clear account of who they are, what they believe in, and what they intend to do with AWARE.

On a side note, I would like to express my profound regret about Charlotte Wong Hock Soon and Peggy Leong Pek Kay. Wong was a former sociology and anthropology lecturer at NUS, while Leong was a sociology graduate. It is extremely embarrassing for the Sociology Department of NUS, as for its graduates, that these two persons hail from the same department. One would expect, from the wealth of wisdom and teaching from sociology and anthropology, that this sort of hostile takeover is just not done, and runs counter to the spirit of everything we have been taught about urban society and the civic space. Shame on the both of you!