New AWARE Leadership

by Terence

I’m not sure how many people in Singapore have heard about the recent change in AWARE leadership, but this post is about my thoughts on the issue.

I don’t pay much attention to local news these days, but after reading snippets of the ongoing debate on The Online Citizen, I decided to read up on the issue and began to feel a sense of discomfort with the new leadership of AWARE.

I don’t have much stomach for writing long blog posts these days, and was procrastinating as usual. Until my friend Alex sent me this open letter that she had written. I guess it helped to crystallise my thoughts on the issue and helped me understand why I was uncomfortable about the whole affair. You can also read the letter on her blog. In fact, I’d encourage that you read what she has to say, simply because she puts it across much better that I would ever be able to.

Firstly, I don’t like the way they came to power and overthrew the old leadership, lock stock and barrel. I think that if you have an agenda for radical change, make it clear from the onset, and not during the post-election press release. The election process itself, though “by the book” according to the constitution of AWARE, stinks of a coup, no matter how you try to smooth it over.

Secondly, I agree with Alex that the ability of the new leadership to be objective and put aside their biases and respect individual differences is questionable, based on what they have been saying in their press releases on the subject of homosexuality. Dr Thio mentioned that she had nothing against homosexuals, and tried to sound like she was even helping them by “counselling” or “ministering” to them. You don’t need to counsel or minister to anyone if you don’t think that there is a problem. This is just one example of their little slips to show their gross lack of understanding and prejudice.

In another more obvious example, Dr Thio and gang think that the fact that “homosexuality is regarded as a neutral word, not a negative word” is a problem, and it is clear how they think the word should be classified.

AWARE provides shelter and counselling as part of their support to women in need, and the leadership is putting all of this at risk because they are deviating from the value of impartial care without discrimination or prejudice, and they are also trying to pass off their own moral biases as medical fact. Overnight, this trust that the old leadership had painstakingly built up has been eroded. If I were a woman in need, I’d certainly not go running to AWARE if I thought all I was going to get was a sermon and a bunch of pseudo-science mumbo-jumbo.

It may sound a little far-fetched, but I assure you that it’s not that off tangent to compare this brand of thinking with that of the Christian religious fundamentalists in the US, who are trying to replace science with religion in an effort to validate the “facts” in their bible. They are currently trying to get the respective Boards of Science in each state to teach Creationism as a competing theory with evolution.

You may think that it is a ridiculous notion and it will never happen to us, but it’s not a joke, and it’s already happening in the US, and the AWARE takeover is clear evidence to me of a dangerous precedent. I hope I’m wrong.