An open letter to Ms Josie Lau

Written by Ng E-Jay
29 April 2009

Dear Ms Josie Lau,

In your letter to AWARE members dated 28 April 2009, you wrote of your wish to “honour and celebrate the achievements of first generation Singapore women and to emulate their spirit of perseverance and to learn from their experience and vision”. You also put forward your rhetoric that “AWARE belongs to you”.

Yet all your actions thus far have been in contradiction to your supposed ideals. You used stealth and subversion to invade AWARE, you got your supporters to vote your team into office despite not having made any contribution towards women in Singapore, you unceremoniously displaced the Old Guard, and you spread vicious lies about AWARE’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) programme. Your contradictions have been exposed one after another, yet you persist on your sordid path, pretending to bury your head in the sand.

You tell readers that you wish to honour those who had served before you. Yet you sacked Braema Mathi in the rudest way possible and removed the subcommittee chairs the moment you took office. You say that AWARE belongs to all, yet on the other hand you attempt to impose your own values and beliefs upon others, and ostracized the Old Guard at your press meetings. If this is your definition of inclusiveness, you are making a mockery of the English language.

You claimed in your letter that you want to make a positive difference and help women in distress. Yet your abrupt and disruptive actions over the past few weeks have caused many genuine seekers of help to be neglected, due to the organization being caught up in the conflict that you have engendered.

You claimed that you are seeking to serve other women in Singapore, but all I can see is that you are serving your own bigoted cause. Your resume posted on AWARE’s website lists an impressive array of corporate credentials, but unfortunately it also reveals that you have never been involved in feminism or helping women. In the absence of any track record of feminist work, we have to judge you based on your words and deeds over the past few weeks. Your behaviour speaks for itself.

It is interesting you spent two full paragraphs of your letter discussing CEDAW, but mentioned nothing about the CSE programme that you and your motley crew have raved and ranted about. Perhaps you finally came to your senses when even the Ministry of Education had to step in to rebut your lies concerning CSE. Or perhaps after having laid your hands on the data and research that AWARE has painstakingly accumulated over the past decade, you are now ready to take over the work which rightfully belongs to others.

You said in your letter that “we should not be passive where we can band together to work for positive change”. On May 2, I am quietly confident that concerned members of AWARE will band together to reclaim the organization and the values that they cherish.

To use your own words, that is something worth protecting and fighting for.

Yours truly,

Ng E-Jay

“Aware belongs to you,” says Josie Lau

Tuesday, 28 April 2009, 10:35 pm

The following is Aware’s president Josie Lau’s latest email message to members, 28 April 2009

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

CEDAW as a women’s rights treaty belongs to all women. We are resolved to enhance widespread awareness of CEDAW standards among Singapore men and women and to provide an open forum to discuss how to better realise these standards.

We wish to honour and celebrate the achievements of first generation Singapore women and to emulate their spirit of perseverance and to learn from their experience and vision. In so doing, we connect the present to the past, as we work together for our better future.

I hope to see you at the upcoming EGM where we will present preliminary details of our programme and projects. My team and I seek your active support and participation in implementing these to serve our community.

AWARE belongs to you.

Warmest wishes

Josie Lau

21 comments on An open letter to Ms Josie Lau

  1. AWARE be aware! The Exco seems to be delusional by the fact that they represent the well being of women. Lesbians are also females who have their sexual preferences and stop branding them. Could you imagine if society is based on sexual preferences? Hey I am straight, are you straight or homo or whatever?
    Dr.Thio claims to have counselled gays, is she first of all a trained counsellor? To call herself a “feminist mentor” she needs to first look within her. Dr. Thio to be a “feminist mentor” you need to look beyond your 5 fingers and empathize with the women you are mentoring. It is about the mentee and not you. Your personal belief system has to be put aside when you counsel or mentor. Listen to your mentee or counsellee not just hear them. Please do not make a mockery of AWARE for your personal gains and place your army in the front to be gunned down. Since you so consider yourself as someone to be heard than be a part of the Exco and do it gracefully. If you are hurting due to some hidden issue(s) and seek attention please seek the help of a qualified counsellor. The Singapore Association for Counselling has a long list of Registered Counsellors, oh by the way your name is not there.
    After reading today’s ST that “Pastor Derek Hong urging women in his flock to be engaged and support Ms. Lau and her sisters at Aware,” I wonder what the new Exco has to say. When did AWARE become a part of religious organisation or seek the political assistance of religious organisation? The previous Excos had a good mix of committed females from different walks of life. Is there a hidden agenda behind all this? One can only wonder.
    I happen to be a male species from the human race. I happen to know some homosexuals personally. I never considered them a threat to society as they are as normal as heterosexuals. It is just that they have a sexual preference.
    The old guards have done well over the years and also have done well in educating on sexuality. If there was something not right our Government would have stepped in.
    Now to say this is not God’s will……. hmmmmmmmmmmm! We are spiritual beings experiencing human life forms. That is all I like to say for now.

  2. The Church Wants To Over AWARE
    It is clear the church wants to make use of religion to take over AWARE. This is not an internal conflict among the members. There is infiltration by the church members. The church is interfering in the internal affairs of a secular organization. This is going to cause a religious conflict. The government must do something to prevent the conflict.

  3. Why is it that this grp of newbies exco put words in GOD’s mouth?!?!?
    Humans….. humans conflict themselves so much. And its “trendy” to say that its GOD’s words….. I TOTALLY agreed that its: ” infiltration by the church members. The church is interfering in the internal affairs of a secular organization. ” AWARE old guard has been doing a great job as these years…. IS IS TOTALLY UNCALLED FOR! they deserve better, NOT all these crap and bullshit. I am a christian myself, it shocks me to see all these happening.


  4. This new president created so much trouble, I wonder she can serve the women organisation. One thing she don’t have that experience and only empty talk will not work. I also can say I represent the well being of women, but there is no result. The old guards worked quietly 20 over years and do not claim any credit, but this new exco, make a big huh ha, make people sick.

  5. i.i fully endorsed and support what Ng E-Jay had said. ii. i fully endorsed and support what S K Tan had said. having followed the events and media, and ST 30 Apr Shutz Lee, my views:
    a. i have obvious doubts about the termination of Shutz Lee and am glad that Shutz Lee wrote to clarify. shutz lee should report AWARE to MOM for unfair dismissal. if she had been deemed terminated for insubordination, then what can be said about the new president.
    b. by all means, the christian group -go set up your own organisation. why take the credit and hard work of the old guard for whatever reason you said. so many lies from a christian.
    c. how much does the new exco understand the work and mission of AWARE. all new members are barely 1 yr old.
    d. and for goodness sake, the government had warned about not involving religion, why then the pastor aggreviated the matter again! pls pastor go preach but stay out of this issue.
    e. new exco had denied getting their religion involved, why then the pastor did it again!. pastor and new exco- pls go learn and say our singapore pledge again!
    f. do you think we believe that they -new exco dont know each other prior to joining, when they hv the same common so called mentor! lies from a christian again.
    g. your actions does not match your words.
    h. we dont see your commitment to help the needy
    i. The works of AWARE by the old guard cannot be forgotten when it had helped many and endorsed by the professional. who are you to judge them when you have not done anything.
    j. AWARE is not an organisation like any MNC.
    By all means, exit with dignity new exco please. DONT spoil AWARE name

  6. I wonder why you are working so hard in discrediting the new EXCO and it is not because they have failed in their duty. They are not even given the opportunity to start any work. Yet, it is because now they have brought into focus some issues that are touching on some nerve points that were not meant to surface. Yes, it did. It is not about religion but it is a society thing, it is about relationship and the right to choose. It is best to have a forewarning than not knowing what is happening before it is too late and we will never be given a choice to say no to things that run counter to what we believe life should be. Singaporeans have their own aspirations and visions and they may not necessarily be what is shared in western countries, Singaporean families have their own values and cultures that are passed down from generation to generation and this is what is keeping us knitted together.

    As a Christian, I believe that God did give us the right to choose but not what is not biblically correct. Why this call to save AWARE? Is there indeed a need? To save it from what? Now, you are saying that what is legally done is not legal and there is this need bringing in people from all over the places to prove what? The facts and the truth always hurt. What is at stake? The reputation and image of AWARE that is now shredded and torn apart by the very people that claimed to have built it. I totally agree with Mr. George Wong, in his letter of 1st May to AWARE. If all else fail, perhaps everyone should resign and reform. Let the new EXCO run AWARE. If they will have no credibility, they will be proven wrong and will take on the responsibility. With all the spontaneous support that the Old Guard now have, you can easily form a “Rainbow” coalition with a broad-based membership.

    Now, just be alert and be aware: Let there be transparency. Let there be honesty, integrity, love, peace, grace and unity regardless of race, culture or religion!

    As a Christian, all I want to say is that God is always doing things that are beyond our understanding. Awesome!

  7. Shouldn’t somebody from the government, police or internal security be hauling in some of the old guards for criminal activities? They have broken so many laws.
    1)Computer Misuse Act – the ex-centre manager denying the president access to her emails and controlling the bandwidth of the website

    2)Criminal intimidation – Sending death threats to people.Sending letters to the current president’s employer, DBS.

    3) Incitement of disorderly behaviour through religion means – rallying singaporeans to attend EOGM on the lines of preventing aware to be taken over by a christian group.Many ministers have said that it is petty politics and shouldn’t be mixed with religion. Having a website, petition blog, and booking room for supporters.This is clearly the greatest danger in current times to the internal security of the country.

    4)Promotion of pornography – homosexual and lesbian activities are illegal in singapore.That includes anal sex.I don’t know why the police didn’t do about it.or even MOE.How can schools teach our kids these kind of values

    5)Rioting – I don’t know how many people the old guards are going to rally, but I hope the police makes use of their new law power to rein on them and being peace to the country

  8. To Mr Seah,

    Don’t you think then, that the new Ex-Co and their mentor should similarly be hauled in by ISD for questioning? Under the Sedition Act, naturally. It would have raised similar alarm had the takeover been by any other one group who come from the same religious organisation – be it Buddhism, or Islam, or Judaism; not just Christianity. Because this is a secular group and religious groups should just not try to push for their agenda here.

  9. Dear Aaron Seah,

    Before you defame the Old Guard, please do consider these relevant facts which you could have missed earlier on:

    (a) the ex-center manager has clarified she did not know the password had been changed; when she found out, she promptly called the administrator to rectify the problem. To label her actions as violating the computer misuse act is a gross and ridiculous stretch of the truth.

    (b) no one yet knows who were the culprits who sent the death threats. You suggest it was the Old guard who did it. I would like to point out that this statement could amount to criminal defamation. Please retract your statement immediately. If I receive complaints, I will take down your comment immediately, in line with MDA’s guidelines on responsible internet commentary.

    (c) When the ministers say religion should not be mixed with politics, they are saying people (the new guard for instance) should not mix their religion with secular organizations and secular views in an attempt to hijack the agenda according to religious lines. Rallying Singaporeans to attend the AGM is not mixing politics with religion — in fact, it is a call for other people NOT to do that.

    (d) comprehensive sex education has NEVER promoted pornography or anal sex. That is a BLATANT MISREPRESENTATION on your part, and on the part of the New AWARE leadership.

  10. What kind of message are these religious fanatics trying to send to the public through their hijacking of a secular organization? Will they next attempt to infiltrate and take over every non-Christian and other not-so-extreme-right-leaning Christian households to preach their set of morals and values??

  11. Dear Mr. Aaron Seah,
    It is really sad that you are a victim of “hear-say” or not able to reason things out objectively. I agree with ‘admin’ that such uncalled statements should be verified before you accuse anyone blatantly. One is innocent till proven guilty. Objectivity and maturity is important when dealin in such issues.

    Kindly retract and apologise to the old guards for your irresponsible statements.

    Congratulations to the old guards. Justice has prevailed. God has spoken!!! oops!!! I meant the women has spoken.

  12. to Sleong,
    justice has prevailed, the truth has spoken. . it is obvious that josie and her team cant lead. and to inform you that her team has already messed up .. who say she has not started any work- sack staff, waste money to install cctv, terminated CEDAW personnel.and the list go on…she dont even understand What AWARE is. no experience. .. .. go read the papers and better still read the happenings in the EGM.. that all i need to say.

    Justice has prevailed, the truth has spoken.
    RETURN OF THE OLD GUARD – and am i glad..we have them (the old guard=new new exco team) to continue the great work of AWARE.. a show of confidence.

    and lastly SLeong- dont tell me about religion.. remember you’ve advised not to mix religion with .. keep it within the 4 walls of your church..

  13. Congratulations to the old guards. Your efforts are appreciated by those who have spoken. Maybe the 2 million women as claimed by the ousted Exco may not have turned out but those who did has spoken.

    To lead a matured group like AWARE you need to be matured, apply critical thinking, be a good listener, be objective, understand the values the association was created and the basic foundation. They need to be humble and earn the respect of their members. It is not the age that commands respect but our behaviour. Even a child can command respect if his/her behaviour is simply to put commendable. Sorry to say some elderly do not understand this. The leadership of Josie Lau came like a tsunami and went off almost immediately. This I call Act of GOD. The Lord had to Act as many used his name and tried to gain and create fear. Homosexuality is a personal choice like any other sexual choices. One now questions what Josie Lau and her associates have in mind as they remain in AWARE as members.

    A word of caution to the present Exco under the matured leadership of Dana Lam, they (the ousted team) maybe planning for a comeback in the next election. They maybe recruting on the quiet and it would be good to tighten your constitution to avoid such distasteful takeovers and conduct membership drive with a proper scrutiny of members. You may want to set up a Membership Secretary within your Exco to monitor the membership intake and approve all members after it has been accepted by the membership committee after tabling in your monthly meetings.

    You may want to consider legal action against the ousted Exco members for taking things into their own hands and infringing the constitution. Maybe it would be prudent to bar them from membership for inappropriate behaviour and infringing the constitution of AWARE.

    I speak for many who were “praying” for the old guards, we are glad you are back in power to be the voice of women not only locally but also internationally and that of men.

    Thank GOD!!! and thank you ladies. I take my hat off!

  14. I am glad the episode is over. As a Social Worker and a Christian, I am saddened this had happened to such a well established organisation like AWARE. I think it is time to move on and heal. AWARE, please keep up the good work. Hope to have a chance to work with your organisation.

    Note: All the doings are not the doings of God but the doings of men, disguised under the cover of religion. It happens too frequently outside Singapore.

    Good luck.

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  16. There was once upon a Chinese story about a blind carrying a lamp walking in the dark not for herself/himself BUT for others’ incoming to see what’s what at the front right under one’s eyes. And subsequently many blinds follow behind blindly. Most Singaporeans ARE NOT blinds! Only those who are blinded/trapped into their own mind-set(s). Then who actually lighten for first lamp for the blinds & as well as the unblinds for enlightenment? Have a good GUESS! Thanks!

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