fbpx
TOC's "live" updates. Minute by minute account of proceedings.

More than a thousand turn up for Aware EOGM

Announcement: TOC’s videos of the event at Suntec City will be up on TOC soon. It includes an interview with Constance Singam. Stay tuned!

BREAKING NEWS: The Old Guards of Aware have managed to gain majority support for their vote of no confidence in the new executive committee. The results of the vote is 1,414 in support of the vote, while 761 voted against it.

Constance Singam, six-term Aware president, delighted when results of vote was announced.
(Picture by Damien Chng)

 

(Picture by Damien Chng)

 

(Picture by Kenneth)

 

(Picture by Kenneth)

---

New exco urges members to give a huge round of applause to outgoing exco (Josie's committee).

New EOGM Chairperson Zaibu Siraj and NEW exco stand onstage and says to cheering audience: "Without you, the new exco would not be onstage." You are brilliant! I thank everybody on behalf of the new Exco and the past presidents." I am grateful to everyone of you, to create history in Singapore, to see civil society restored. And more importantly to see that the right voice of women has a place in Singapore."

New President Dana Lam: "You know what’s the best thing today? Today we saw we have so many smart, witty, and gorgeous women in Singapore!" This win has been a win for the whole of civil society in Singapore.  Singaporeans from near and far have come together to support the cause. Thank you.

Dana reassures the members: "We will work together to make the association even better." 

----

In a dramatic turn of event, Josie Lau's committee is back! 

Josie Lau: "We note the outcome of no confidence. The exco has decided to graciously step down and the team hopes that AWARe will return to its original roots in the Constitution". 

---

NEW EXCO VOTED IN (we apologize if the names are spelled wrongly - we'll change them when we receive confirmation) 

Dana Lam voted in as President of AWARE.

Chew I Jin nominated by Poonan and seconded by Braema Mathi for the post of “Vice President”. Chew I Jin is voted in as Vice President of AWARE.

Honorary Secretary Yap Chang Wi

Corrina Lim voted in as Assistant Honorary Secretary.

Honorary Treasurer – Tan Jun Hin.

Assistant Treasurer - Lim Xiaoyun

Committee members: Joanna Decruz, Hafizah Osman, Margaret Thomas, Nancy Griffiths and two others

---

No one from the current exco (Josie Lau and colleagues) turned up by 8.50pm.

Zaibu Siraj is voted in as chairperson.

Motion of removal was proposed and seconded by many members of audience. Those who are against the motion (by having the entire current exco removed and to hereby elect a new exco) were told to raise their hands. There were 2 people opposing this motion - and motion was proclaimed carried. 

---

The new exco is "on their way back" from deliberation. Another 5 minutes of deliberation will be extended to them.  Braema apologizes if they appear "a bit silly" - by making pronouncements and going back on pronoucements - but qualifies that they are "trying to be kind". Members, legal counsel and all have been notified that the new exco has until 8.50pm to return. It is 8.42pm now. 

---

"ON behalf of the 160 members, I declare that by their conduct and action, we declare that the current exco - the new exco - has indeed resigned." says Braema Mathi, to cheering crowds. "And now we'll take our seats and go to the next level", which is to vote in the next committee.

---

Whereabouts of the new exco appear unknown - the legal counsel is also trying to contact the current exco.

----

Braema Mathi calling for Josie Lau and Maureen Ong and Lois Ng and the rest of the exco to come back and take their place on stage. The new exco has taken more than 15 minutes - till now - to deliberate, after the vote of no confidence.  

----

New guards leaves to consider resignation. Old guard will move motion of removal if they don't resign. After the conclusion of removal, old guards will run another election to elect another exco.

----

Old guards giving new exco time to step down. 

----

Old guards asking new guards to step down. New guards (namely Josie Lau) saying the motion might not be binding.

-----

 

Results: 

1,414 votes in support of no confidence in the current exco.

761 votes not in support of no confidence in current exco.

The hall is going crazy with the audience screaming and shouting and cheering.

-----

Results of no confidence vote is about to be announced.

-----

Braema Mathi
-------

Director of HOME, the organisation for migrant workers,  Bridget Lew, says moral leadership and the "spirit of Christ" is to embrace all. "Do not takeover an organisation using the letter of the law." The crowd gives her a standing ovation.

------

Counting of votes is still on-going.

-----

Braema Mathi says her dismissal was without any "due manners, due process" and also the dissolution of the CEDAW committee. Sally Ang, new exco, said Braema Mathi did not submit draft of CEDAW report to her when "it's due". Braema responded by saying that "we're not late, not inefficient" and that Sally Ang's words were "significantly defamatory". She added that the report was not due until 2010 but that Josie Lau had disbanded the CEDAW sub-committee.

-----

Thio Su Mien addressing the audience earlier
-----

Braema Mathi was not sacked from her position in Aware, says new exco. She had not submitted the draft shadow report as requested by the new exco. Braema Mathi, however, says she did respond and asked for a meeting with the new exco and that she also offered to submit a "verbal report" which was rejected by the new exco. Braema Mathi was in charge of the CEDAW project.

-----

A member of Aware, in the audience, says never in her life has she ever been told to "shut up and sit down" and she's appalled that in a grown-up setting, one exco member could shout this. "Today is the time to stand up and speak up, "she said, "not shut up and sit down."

-----

Siew Kum Hong, legal advisor to the old guards

 

Results of vote of no confidence to be out shortly. Constance Singam is told results will be out soon. She urges members to take "result in good spirit" and that there should be a "good ending, whicever way."

-----

 

 

 

Legal counsel to new exco says the general meeting must agree to exco's expenses for the year by secret ballot.

-----

An academic on feminist theories, a member of the audience, says to the new exco: You cannot speak for one marginalised group, eg. women, if you exclude all others on the grounds of race, religion, linguistic orientation, sexuality orientation." She went on to say that internatinal human rights activists have high regards for (old) Aware, which has been "chipping away like woodpeckers to make a dent." "Please don't undermine its international credibility by your thoughtless actions."

-----

Maureen Ong estimates total cost for the new exco's one month in office to be $100,000. audience members point out constitution which only authorises exco to spend up to $20,000. Audience members call for exco to reimburse the excess out of their own pocket.

-----

Maureen Ong, new exco, says the "rough estimate" for the total cost of holding today's event is $90,000, which include the cost for engaging security personnel, sound system, etc.

-----

Results on the vote of no confidence expected to be out soon. Stay tuned.

-----

"We are passionate about our values," shouts an audience member. "Do you see passion in the faces of the new exco?"

------

 

 

Dana Lam, former president of Aware

 

Josie Lau says "circumstances" had forced the move to a new venue and that the exco had "discretion" to decide on this. She said it would have taken too long to seek members' permission.

-----

"You are ultra-vires to constitution by spending more than $20,000", old guard member who pioneered the Aware legal clinic.

-----

 

----

Maureen Ng, new exco, explains that the Expo, which was the original venue for the meeting, rejected their application because the Aware membership was more than 2,000. She reveals that the booking of the "only location" suitable was at Suntec City and that it costs $18,000 to rent the hall. In total, it costs $85,000 to hold today's event. "We have to find a venue to accomodate all members," she says.

----

Audience is demanding to know how much is being spent on the EOGM at Suntec City. The exco is not answering, not revealing how much it is spending. The Aware constitution says that if it's more than $20,000, the members' agreement will have to be sought. Crowd is shouting "Answer! Answer!" One person has been escorted out of the hall by the police for shouting and asking about how much it costs to book the exhinbition hall at Suntec for today's meeting.

----

Josie Lau says she was under the impression that she would be working with Constance Singam and Claire Nazar when she joined Aware.

 

 

Josie Lau clarifies but denies that she knows the other exco members intimately. She's addressing some issues which have been raised, such as the lock change.

----

The meeting is adjourned for 10 minutes.

----

There's wrangling over some constitutional amendments which the new guards want to put to the vote.

----

Counting of votes in progress now.

----

Ballot papers are being collected.

----

Voting has begun. 

----

The vote is expected to be a landslide win for the old guards, judging by the overwhelming support for them among the audience.

----

Proposer and seconder for the resolution on the vote of no confidence being asked for. Vote to begin shortly.

----

Thio Su Mien calls herself a"lion-hearted pioneer". She asks the audience to "respect your elders". She explains that the reason she calls herslf a "feminist mentor" was because she was studied in a book which mentioned her. (It's unclear what she actually said as the audience was shouting and screaming at her as she spoke.) The audience effectively shouted Thio Su Mien down.

----

Audience jeers at Thio Su Mien. 

----

Thio Su Mien is called to speak.

----

Haifzah, a new Aware member: "Where is the diversity?... [You] represent one race, one faith and most worship at the same church."

----

Josie Lau asks for right of reply to accusations, otherwise it is "undemocratic", she says.

----

Constance Singam: "Trust, respect and honour the achievements of past members. "Where were you when parents were confronted with work life issues... where were yo when women were being battered? Where were you?" The audience chants, "Where were you? Where were you?"

----

New member who asked the audience to give new exco a chance is jeered. Irene Ang, an actress, asks how the new exco can claim to be "fighting for women's right but after a few days you fire a woman?"

----

Braema Mathi, old guard Aware: "Even today, we are chided like children.... 100 per cent sorry to say that you are not the right representatives." She says she's disappointed with several things, as mentioned by Dana Lam, including switching off the microphone in the audience. The audience is increasingly agitated.

----

Dana Lam, old guard and former president of Aware, to the new exco: "[You have] dismissed long serving personnel, dismissed long serving volunteers who are experts in their fields, and obsessed over the security of the centre. You have instructed vendors to change the locks at night."

----

Discussions have now turned to the technicalities of conducting the vote of no cofidence, which is believed to start soon. The hall is noisy, with many screaming, cheering, jeering, clapping even as the speeches take place.

-----

Old guard member and lawyer, Halijah, disagrees with new exco's lawyer. She says in Article 9 of the Aware constitution that if members have no confidence in the exco, the exco should step down.

-----

Legal counsel for the new exco is speaking now. He says the constitution does not "expressly" give grounds for the eogm to remove the exco. He also said a vote of no confidence is not legally binding. The meeting continues.

-----

Josie Lau ends speech. Margaret Thomas moves item on the vote of no confidence up on the agenda.

----

Josie Lau asks for a chance for the new exco to carry out its programmes and to prove itself.

 

Josie Lau continues her speech on Aware's history. She says Aware will "review the CSE curriculum". CSE is the Comprehensive Sex Education programme. She is showing a chart of Aware's membership which, she says, has "increased exponentially". She revealed there are now 3,000 members of Aware as of yesterday. She says Aware is neither anti-gay or or anti-anybody. "We are a secular society." She says religion should not be an issue in the current dispute. "For homosexual women, we will provide support for their emotional needs. They will speak to a counsellor, and it will remain secular." She said Aware is willing for counsellors to discuss legal rights including the issue of abortion. "We maintain an open-door policy," she says.

---

Audience member tells TOC, "Good god! It's mad in here." Some members are standing up and screaming and waving. 

 

Margaret Thomas, old guard, called for a point of order. "Josie, you've exceeded your 3 mins." New exco member shouts at Margaret Thomas, "Shut up and sit down." Crowd jeers. Exco member apologises. Josie Lau apologises as well. Josie Lau trying to get the audience to calm down.

----

A photographer has been asked to step out of the hall for not observing "house rules".

"I, as president, cannot allow anyone to disrupt my meeting," said Josie Lau. Audience members are going up to the microphone to speak and even to shout at her. Braema Mathi of the old guards is speaking now. She wants to get on with the agenda and said that it is only fair that they get to say what Aware is supposed to be about.

----

Crowd chanting for the microphone in the hall to be turned on. Jenica Chua and Josie Lau warned that unruly people will be escorted out of the hall by security.

----

Josie Lau, president of Aware, giving speech.

----

Old guards asks audience to be calm. "We shall be calm, we shall be dignified." Latest figures puts the audience at 2,000.

----

Josie Lau's self-introduction met with loud boos and cheers. She asked for order and for the audience not to interrupt her speech. The crowd chants "vote-of-no-confidence".

The Extraordinary General Meeting of Aware, being held at Suntec City has gotten underway, at about 2.20pm. Originally scheduled to start at 2pm, it was delayed because of the large number of people who have turned up. There are 1,500 ordinary members and 250 associate members in the hall. Mr Siew Kum Hong was asked to move to the associate members' section of the room. The crowd booed. Mr Siew is the legal advisor to the old guards. The old guards have asked for him to be present as the new guards too have their legal advisor with them. 

The EOGM, which was scheduled to begin at 2pm, has now been delayed because of the huge number of people who have turned up. Mediacorp actress Patricia Mok and Chua Enlai have also been spotted among the audience.  Ms Mok declined to be interviewed by TOC.

A minor incident took place when staff from the new guards asked some people queueing in the registration line to leave. It is unclear what the reason was.  Supporters of the old guards of Aware protested. It seems to be resolved now.

TOC understands that no more registration for new members will be entertained and only old members and existing members are being admitted into the hall.

-----

Hundreds of people have turned up for the Aware EOGM at Suntec City. The queue for registration from Hall 402 at level four is snaking all the way to level three. Many more are arriving, some in groups. There are 1,300 ordinary members and 200 associate members who have arrived.

There are currently about 700 people who are inside the hall. University undergrad Tan Peiling, 23, is one of them. She says she is there to root for the old guards as she feels the way the new exco "took power" was not very "civilised". The majority of those present are women, among whom are now Thio Su Mien, the self-professed "feminist mentor" and Constance Singam, the former president of Aware.

The police is also present inside the hall.

Maureen Ong (centre) with Josie Lau and Charlotte Wong

 

Constance Singam with Siew Kum Hong

 

Members inside the hall