EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a letter to the ST forum page written by a parent, Mrs Ng Hong Eng, who attended the AWARE EOGM on 2 May. The letter was not published.
In this letter, Mrs Ng criticizes the rowdy behaviour at AWARE’s EOGM, and asserts that “AWARE does not represent all women in Singapore”. She also says the unruly behaviour could tarnish AWARE’s reputation.
Following Mrs Ng’s letter, I will also post NMP Siew Kum Hong’s take on the AWARE saga and his opinion on the alleged rowdy behaviour.
Rejected ST letter by Mrs Ng Hong Eng
04 May 2009
I am one of the 3000 women attended the AWARE EOGM on 2nd May 2009.
The whole situation was so one-sided no wonder the former Exco had to engage the police to maintain order. This is really unheard of. My friends and I agreed that, even the police was unable to totally control the situation. If the police really forced their way, there would likely be a riot and we would see blood with that kind of anger displayed.
I saw how the old guards rallied the crowd to cheer and to boo, how they stirred the members to shout at the same time “We are AWARE!”, “Resign. Resign..”, “Shame. Shame..” and many more.
I saw how they dominated the whole meeting with all the insults threw at the ones they dislike, even the neutral ones were not spared, if they did not support the old guards. They kept interrupting those who did not support them and so the meeting took more than six hours. They blamed the former Exco for the over-spending and expected all 3000 members to squeeze in a meeting room of 700. Because of the membership drive, they should have collected $12,000 and even after deducting all expenses, they should have $30,000 balance. Is not this a surplus? Of course, there were more issues raised that concerned AWARE’s operations, and I do not side any party.
I also wonder how many of the 1400 plus supporters who voted for the AWARE old guards would come forward to volunteer themselves to the service. Let’s wait and see…
I sincerely, not with ill manner, want to tell AWARE that you do not represent ALL the women in Singapore. And I also want to tell you that I would be skeptical to let you represent me in the way you behaved at the EOGM. If only the UN would see how all of you behaved, they would be shocked too. I too also admit that the former Exco had done many mistakes to cause attention, but the unruly behavior could only tarnish AWARE’s reputation.
Being a quiet observer there, I was shocked and horrified at the behavior of the majority members who behaved so badly. They were unruly, rude, unreasonable and displayed such lawlessness.
I went because issues were raised about the sexual education materials AWARE used for the last two years. I am a mother of two and this is a very serious matter. It concerns the future of our children, so it concerns the future of our nation. It worries me that parents were not informed of this and not involved in guiding their children in this topic. Parents should be the ones to tell their own children how to deal with sexual behavior. Schools that engage outside media to teach should have the parents’ involvement and get consent. For one, I do not approve AWARE’s materials.
I URGE all parents to speak up regarding this matter and also plead to MOE to be more vigilant in checking outside materials used, especially in sexual education. To quote Mr Santokh Singh in The Newpaper on Sunday, 3 May 2009, page 32, “And parents, even if they are not the first to be informed, should at least be kept informed of major incidents and how the schools handled them.”
Last, but not least, I want to applaud the newspapers that reported the whole AWARE saga truthfully, but sadly noted that it is very rare. I am not surprise if most of my write-in would be cut “here and there” or may not even get published.
NG HONG ENG