Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm rather astounded.

The AWARE saga got Boingboinged.

At first I was terribly confused, 'cos my straight feminist friends were urging me to join the group so they wouldn't lose their 25 years of strong social programming while my gay friends believed we should treat the new, Evangelical Christian-influenced exco like pariahs. However, there now appears to be a happy consensus (see this website): women members of AWARE are gathering for a vote of no confidence in the new exco.

To tell the truth, I'm not sure if the "hijacking" was actually planned.

UPDATE: Dr Thio Su Mien's confession and these recently leaked e-mails seem to indicate otherwise. But let the record stand (below) that I at least gave these guys a chance.

You see, outgoing President Constance Singam invited Claire Nazar to be the next President, knowing fully that Claire had links with a conservative church and wasn't too crazy about supporting queer rights. (Problematic from the perspective of us gays, but you could also see it as a step towards inclusiveness. After all, evangelical Christians often do care about issues of poverty, rape and foreign workers' rights, which affect a larger number of people collectively than gay rights.)

It's possible to assume that Nazar's friends from church decided to join AWARE without any clear plans to wrest power from the old guard - they may have just felt like they could make a positive change in the name of their own agenda. (People have encouraged queer people to join AWARE for the same reason.)

And then some of these new members decided to run for elections, without really believing they could make a clean sweep of the committee. But they told their friends to join and turn up, and since the spirit of community in the church is that strong, when the day came, so many of their friends came that they were voted in. And they would hardly decline when that happened.

And so Claire Nazar finds herself surrounded by people who come from a similar religious background as her, but who don't feel the same way about the purpose of AWARE. And she's being attacked by AWARE members who think she orchestrated a coup. She decides she can't handle the situation, and drops out.

And the new committee members find themselves demonised by journalists and much of the public. This, while they're still juggling their own jobs and church duties and families. Not easy for them.

I'm just trying to play devil's advocate here, because people like Alex Au say that it's impossible that the "hijacking" wasn't premeditated. But I think it's just about possible. It's way too easy to caricature people who believe in different values from you as evil maniacs.

Still, my above theory doesn't explain the chilling way the new committee members seemed to have pre-rehearsed and co-ordinated their response of refusing to reveal their positions. That smacks of organisation.

Just thinking aloud here. You lot in Singapore know better than I.

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