An open letter to new AWARE president Dana Lam and her team

Written by Ng E-Jay
03 May 2009

If there is anyone who still wonders whether we as a people have the courage to stand up for righteousness, justice and tolerance, who still doubts whether Singaporeans are able to rise up to the challenge when the occasion calls, Saturday night banished those doubts forever.

Those doubts were banished by the men and women who took time off from their families and their busy schedules to attend the most pivotal conference in the history of civil society in our nation, by the housewives, mothers, grandmothers, businesswomen, women from all walks of life, who waited hours in a packed seminar room to cast their vote for openness and tolerance, by the thousands of volunteers and activists who toiled tirelessly in the past month to craft the greatest campaign ever to help AWARE reclaim its purpose and its values.

Those doubts were banished by the married couples and the single parents, by the lesbians and the straight women and the bisexual women, who came out of their closets and stood up to be counted, who told the world that we are no longer a nation of sheep, that we will no longer look on helplessly when tyranny descends upon us, that when bigotry and intolerance threatens our lives and our rights and our dignity, we will NOT stand idly by.

Ms Dana Lam, Saturday night was a defining moment for you and your team. The victory is rightfully yours. Your team and the Old Guard fought with honour and won with grace. I could not have imagined a sweeter victory nor a more splendid outcome.

But the victory does not belong to your team alone. It belongs to all the pregnant youngsters, all the abused wives, all the distressed mothers, all the women that AWARE has ever helped. It belongs to all the girls who have been afraid of their own sexuality, who have had difficulty saying “no” to a guy, who have had problems with their self esteem and their body image, who have faced immense challenges dealing with issues like loyalty, abstinence and responsibility. It belongs to all the lesbians and transsexuals and bisexuals who to this day face prejudice from those who refuse to acknowledge that diversity is to be accepted and respected and not vilified.

Not many people understand the feminist cause or its role in modern society. What AWARE is fighting against is millennia of misconceptions and prejudice against women handed down from generation to generation, so intricately woven into the fabric of our society that sometimes we don’t even realize it until the folly stares us in the eye.

If the team headed by Ms Josie Lau truly understood feminism and appreciated what AWARE was doing to help women in distress and bring about a greater sense of gender equality, they would not have done what they did. But the Old Guard did not sit by idly and let the invaders destroy the organization. They fought back. They fought back with truth and reason and conviction. They fought back not just for themselves but for all the women who need their help in fighting violence, abuse, discrimination and prejudice. And because they fought back, because they refused to surrender the organization to the shackles of bigotry and intolerance, they have made civil society in Singapore come alive again. They have awakened our zest, our desire, our passion for a more mature and robust national conversation.

Ms Lam, Saturday night was a marvelous victory for you and your team, but the real battles have only just begun. You now have to work to rebuild and fortify the organization and prepare it for the even greater challenges ahead. You now have to heal rifts and forge alliances and convince your detractors that yours is a voice worth listening to. The social responsibility that has been placed on AWARE is immense, and the road ahead will be long and hard, but I’m sure you will all get there.

The darkest hour in AWARE’s history has past, and a fresh dawn awaits, a dawn that brings both new purposes and new challenges. Let us begin this new day by thanking all those who stood on the side of justice and tolerance and righteousness. Let us thank all the volunteers and activists who helped AWARE in its most dire moment of need. Let us also thank our Christian brothers and sisters who refused to let their faith be hijacked, who spoke out on behalf of the silent majority.

With the soft rays of the fresh morning sun falling upon the first pages of a new chapter in Singapore civil society, let us resolve never to wallow in the twilight of complacency again, and let us leave our comfort zones that we have become so used to and start to act on what we truly believe in.

26 comments on An open letter to new AWARE president Dana Lam and her team

  1. Josie Lau supposed to be taken away by police with handcuff for opening up a pandora box which LKY has been stressing exaggerately, right? She had caused religious & races tension mah…

    I want to see what will govt. do to her… and please refer to her name in future (if anyone is being caught in suspicion for making racial & religious tension – POA) if nothing happens to her…

  2. Yes this is a victory for civil society, a victory for Singapore. It’s not often that we can feel so overwhelmingly proud of ourselves as Singaporeans. When we uphold the principles of equality, fairness and inclusiveness, when we PROMOTE understanding, sensitivity, tolerance and respect , when we celebrate diversity and pluralism, and most importantly, when we shun intolerance, divisiveness, prejudice, discrimination and bigotry, we show the rest of the world that ours is indeed a progressive, open and humane society. So congratulations to everyone who stood for those values that we are so proud of.

    For the outgoing EXCO (Josie Lau & team), I believe they will have learnt something from this experience, just like the Old Guard did, just like the rest of us did. Josie & team are a talented group of individuals in their respective fields, and I hope they will continue to contribute their expertise as AWARE’s members to benefit ALL women, regardless of race, religion, social status, educational level or sexual orientation.

  3. Thank you Ng E-Jay for your balanced coverage and integrity. I started visiting your website before the AWARE saga and was already a fan. Now I am even more appreciative of

    Singapore needs voices like yours.

  4. and may i add that the pastor derek hong ought to be taken away too. they need to be counselled. For someone senior , derek hong’s behaviour is totally unacceptable too.. they are seem to have forgotten the pledge. they must be punished to write 1000 times of the pledge. this is a small punishment though.

    josie and team must be held accountable for the $90,000 spending. i suggest they do their part as josie said that she will still be a member of AWARE and if the new new exco needs their help, she would certainly chip in. now is her part to pay back . let us understand that josie is sincere to want to be part of AWARE. she and her team should raise funds to get back the excess spending. this is certainly a better choice as compared to..

  5. i congratulate dana lam, the new AWARE president and team . I thanks fellow supporters of the old guards for bringing the organisation back to order.

    the whole fiasco is a lesson learnt, and may i share
    i. that any members who wishes to be voted to the exco- need to be a member for at least a year or more.
    ii. that any members who wishes to be voted the the exco – needs to participate in some of the activities- this will enable them to fully understand AWARE mission and cause.

  6. Chee bye Ng E-jay! Why delete my post? You homo only like sing and praise in ur blog?

  7. Too bad a lot of the names on the petitiion look to be fake. There’s even spam posts for gay porn on them.

    Probably some of the $90k was paid to hire someone to spam the petition?

  8. To the netizen with the cute moniker “Fuck Ng E-Jay” (comment 7):

    If you can comment in a civilized manner, your comment will be released from the moderation queue.

    However it is common sense that I will not allow slander or defamatory remarks to be posted. If you want to slander me, start your own blog!!


  9. Josie’s AWARE stand for : Aggressive Women All Resigned Eventually

  10. I signed the petition. As of today there are already 6K+ signatures. I don’t think a bulk of the petition signatures are fake.

    If AWARE is pusing their values on our kids I prefer MOE stop such programmes. I would rather talk to my children about sex than for a stranger try to indocrinate them with values that I don’t agree with. After all, as their parent I’m responsible for their upbringing.

    I wouldn’t mind if MOE designed such programmes with parents consultation and let parent volunteers run these programs. Afterall we have a direct stake in decisions of our kids,

  11. Amazingly, how woman can fight against woman for the a purpose, “to uphold woman position in the nation”, so if left hand say “right hand is so dirty” and they clap together, what happen??? World is getting weirder each day…with Flu from Bird, still not enough, and then from Pig, and now from Woman??? just amazing.

  12. … and it’s amazing how we Singaporeans have become so ‘blindly’ critical! We claim to be well-taught and well-schooled, but when it comes to slamming others, we just follow what others do, and happily slam away.

    For every problem that surfaces, why don’;t we just analyse and understand. No.1 – Josie Lau and team did not come in on religious ground, though they were Christians. No. 2 – They came in because they discovered, amongst others, that sexual education by AWARE was giving a green-light setting for homosexualism, anal sex. No. 3 – Ask youself – if you have children, do you want them to go through such education and be confused?

    And about Josie Lau and her team being Christians, well, I thank God that they find the moral obligations to stand up for what is right. They certainly have not forced their Christian principles into any of us. What they did were on moral basis.

  13. Dana Lam responded to MOE’s suspension of sex education done by external party (AWARE included) –

    “I hope it doesn’t mean they are going to discontinue using such comprehensive programmes as ours. And I hope it doesn’t mean they are going to bring sexual education back a couple of centuries,” said Dana Lam, AWARE’s president.

    I am very curious to know what Dana Lam was trying to convey in her response?

    I would think that instead of saying she’s disappointed, she should sort-of voice that she looked forward to working with MOE to fine-tune the curriculum. Her response gives the impression her curriculum is all-perfect and definitely good for the students. Wow… no flaws – 100%? Come on…

    And what does she mean – bringing sexual education back a couple of sexual centuries? Scares me…is she trying to advocate something here? So sex education should follow the norms of society? So, if society says, pre-marital sex and co-habitation are okay, then it shall be okay? Will she then agree to teach her kids that these are okay?

  14. Wow, an Obama-quality speech.

    I hope everyone was entertained, exercised their civil rights, showed their intolerance towards intolerance, thrashed tyranny, fought with honour and won with grace.

    It’s time to go home for dinner.

  15. I am so glad now that we are all “aware” what AWARE has been doing all these while. It really open our eyes to see their “real” agenda to promote homosexuality and pre-martial sex. Yes, we love the sinner not the sin but accepting the sin is equally a sin. I thank Josie and team for exposing THEM. Now Sporeans are “aware” what is going on.

  16. The whole AWARE saga and following commentaries from many quarters have focused superficially on proceedings, and the “rights” or “wrongs” of the “New ExCo” and/or “New New Exco”.

    The facts on the CSE have now been made public. I wonder how many of those supporters of the “New New Exco” (Dana Lam and team) actually know what they were fighting for..? How many are sensible parents, who may now be regretting for putting their vote behind the “Old Guard”…? It would be interesting to know how the vote would have turned out, if the CSE fiasco was made public earlier…

    This leads to the question of MOE’s role in this whole fiasco and the AWARE saga… but that is another topic which perhaps Ng E-Jay, with all of his objective eloquence, can better analyze and comment on in this

  17. Well done Josie and her team. Thank you Dr Thio. It takes a lot of courage to stand up against the hooligans on Sunday night. In spite and despite the personal threats, the harsh and mean comments, the unfair treatment from Straits Times and having to face a mob of hooligans on Sunday night, you showed grace and understanding.

    In additional to the pain, you must have felt so alone and betrayed for wanting to protect our young. I will talk about you and what you have done, to my children and children’s children. You are our latest heroines in Singapore.

    Thank you so much.

  18. Josie and gang with their sinister Godmother in the background (movie has GODFATHER) are full of crabs about morality shits! Their church, which took part by way of supporting them at the height of AWARE’s crisis can help pay for AWARE’s 90k financial loss when they pillaged AWARE’s hard-earned reserved fund to financed their failed coup. Obviously, GOD did not approved the whole operations!

  19. i am a chinese xchristian and have kids of my own and do not doubt our education system. I do not need unauthorised personnels to decide morality issues for my kids.

  20. I continue to be amused by the explanations from pro-gay groups.

    Even after the government has stated clearly their position, they still don’t get it.

    Even after the government has slammed AWARE for what they have done and even stated that until AWARE gains the trust of parents again, their program will not be consider, they still don’t get it.

    These militant pro-gay supporters continue to battle it out on the net and yet fail to confront the government when it’s the government that is the strongest critic of their actions. They continue to write in forums and try their confusion strategy.

    This Dana Lam is so lame to continue to harp on the fact that there were no complaints for the last 2 years when they launch their stealth underhanded plan to push a pro-gay agenda as a means to justify that they are right. Look at the bottom line. The government has slammed AWARE CSE, they have further stated that they were unaware of the instructors manual which was not shown to them nor was the government told that they told of the position they will take on homosexuality and anal sex – even when the limits of the program must be centered around the family as a basic unit framework.

    This shows that Dana Lam continues to deny that the CSE is wrong even after all the admonishment by the government that it wrong. This goes to show that she and the whole AWARE will continue to push their pro-gay agenda – perhaps in another sneaky way which the majority and government will not notice. She is not even remorseful about what they have done nor acknowledged their folly. Instead try to mitigate the fiasco using meaningless words like “regrettable” and “they understand”.

    When there is not acknowledgement of guilt, there is no change. This means AWARE will not regain the trust of parents. What a silly action to waste a chance to come clean and rebuilt. AWARE will be a pariah NGO and all straight thinking person will abandon it and become a base of all pro-gay groups. It should change its name to some Pro-Gay name instead – like IAMGAY.

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