As in the previous entry, I believe the events (in the internet) surrounding the events at women's advocacy group AWARE is an information war.
Yes. The seagulls (most of us bloggers) are following the trawler thinking there will be sardines being thrown into the sea. So said footballer Eric Cantona.
Everybody wants to have a say in this, and be heard/read.
There is a strive to be an opinion leader, as such.
Okay, I am not talking about the editorial credibility of website wayangparty.com, although I am a bit irritated at the lack of responsibility, integrity and etiquette that they have previously copied html-for-html the aggregated links I collected in my first article on AWARE and not done the citation and linking, and now they have copied part of another article without saying it came from "Sam's Thoughts" or "http://thinkingbetterthinkingmeta.blogspot.com". Not cool, not cool at all.
Essentially, all of us a borrowing links here and there.
Instead of creating a network of information, where new and conflicting information can flow freely and in different directions, we end up creating a feedback loop. Information keeps getting recycled.
Of course different bloggers are concerned in different ways. Some are concerned for the NGO scene. Some like myself are concerned about gender equality. Some are concerned by the alleged ideological war Christian Fundamentalism is allegedly waging in Singapore, which manifests in members/devotees/'martyrs' ascending to positions of power and authority in the civic society, civil society and the government sector.
Yes, identity matters. Background matters. Beliefs matter. They influence the decisions you make.
While I am skeptical that the motivation of the new group (exco and ordinary members) to takeover Aware is primarily an anti-gay one (as some bloggers might suggest), I am nevertheless certain that there are anti-gay implications, whatever the motivations are.
I am very certain that the people who hold homophobic views have no position (and do not deserve so) in advocating gender equality, because there are women who identify as homosexual, among other sexual orientations, such as bisexual, pansexual, transsexual, etc.
This is simply because of the positions of these members. Their positions matter.
Returning to the issue on information, I believe the newspapers are perhaps the more trusted sources for updated information. The journalists are doing their scoops and publishing them.
Bloggers on the other hand, will just pick up on the agenda.
Yes, I can confirm there has been sentiments expressed about the participation and intended takeover by the newer members, and even questions raised about their religious backgrounds and political motivations. And it is uncannily coincidental (tautology alert! beep beep beep) that their beliefs happen to advocate the dehumanisation and discrimination/marginalisation of queer-identified people, all these, all long before the news broke last week.
Unfortunately, preempting it and blogging about it will be unfair to some extent.
In the beginning, I thought nothing about all these until last Friday (Was it? Felt like a long time ago) when the Straits Times carried the news.
Now I am trying to resist believing this Christianity-related conspiracy, and that it exists.
Maybe it is our constructed multicultural environment (created by the ruling Chinese elite, not bad huh?), but in a country of diverse identities and a country that protects diversity in the constitution, can't we be proud of being diverse, can't we be proud of being who we are?
One week into the drama, we still have not got the clear picture:
1) Claire Nazar - Independent of this takeover or not? Why resign?
2) Why is there a sudden increase in membership leading up to the Aware AGM?
3) How and to what extent did the increase in membership affected the election process?
4) What is their agenda?
5) Why so secretive? We live in a country where we have the freedom to practise (ALMOST every) religion. Being secretive connotes a hidden agenda, so you have got to quell speculation by being out.
Even if there is a secret alliance behind the recent takeover of Aware, their aspirations of gaining political leverage, by ascending to important positions in an NGO that is established, respected and in a key position in civil society, will not be fulfilled.
The lever here breaks under the weight of the organisation itself. This is because the credibility and legitimacy of the new team (and ultimately, AWARE as an organisation) have been questioned.
You will not be able to enjoy the same space and freedom to do your "gender equality" politics if your leadership (and reputation) is discredited.
Instead of riding on the galloping horse (or mare), and harnessing its speed for your personal glories, your being on the horse has broken all its bones.
That is why I believe the biggest loser is Aware as an organisation, and of course, not to mention gender equality.
"Women's rights and awareness" become the platform for internal political struggle, and us bloggers are the scavengers.
Alternatively, the "old guard", who have been active and passionate in championing gender equality in Singapore, could consider forming another organisation. People already know what is going on, and people know if others are trying to ride on the status and "brand name" of the organisation. It is only natural that in a singular goal (gender equality) may manifest in different advocacy groups and campaigns. In the end, it gives people more choice.
I personally wonder if the new team are aware or interested in the issues concerning ethnic minority, lower socio-economic status women, single mums (do they fit in the Josie Lau definition of "family"?), queer-identified women, trans women, and so on. Say, do the majority well-educated ethnic Chinese supposedly middle-to-upper class women (want to) understand or identify with the issues concerning a Muslim woman, or a Hindu. Or what about lesbian marriage? Does these guys (I mean women) even recognise this as a women's issue? If not, are you making some exclusions from your "ideal" definition of "woman" and "issue"?
That said, I would like to urge bloggers to be fair in their views and criticisms of the orgnisation and the people who have been alleged to be part of the takeover.
Ask the questions, rather than make accusations (unless you have facts of course).
Discuss the implications of the events on various communities, on Singaporeans in general, so that it is relevant an issue to all of us.
Be pro-diversity, not anti-Christian Fundamentalist.
Do not play the same game of polarisation that others are playing. If they blow up their side of the bridge, you are not obliged to blow up your side. If you do so, you are no different from them. (ironically, "us" and "them" already imply polarisation)
Do not challenge for the sake of challenging, but challenge because you are aware and concerned.
I believe there might be yet another record turn-out at the upcoming extra-ordinary general meeting (EOGM, or EGM).
Can their headquarters/office at Dover handle this turn-out?
Will there be measures in place to regulate the turn-out? (e.g. prevent "even newer" members from having voting rights or attending, or limit attendance and voting rights of members who do not fulfill certain (newly established) criteria?)
I would like to attend this general meeting as an independent witness. Like AWARE, I also advocate gender equality. So I am concerned. If not, I hope there will be independent observers allowed at this EGM.
new AWARE = Anglican Church of Our Saviour?
Mother Goose Stories
The AWARE Saga
DBS publicly criticises AWARE’s new Head
Is this AWARE cat fight, the greatest thing that has ever happened to Singapore civil society?
AWARE and the hostile take over
All the hype about nothing
Beware of Aware
Political drama of AWARE