Strictly human affairs aren’t featured on tec for the simple reason of it being a minionly blog. But there are hiss spats, and then there are hiss spats. This is one of those that demands a bit of attention. It also requires more thought but I am pressed for time since the AWARE EGM is on 2 May so please bear with the rambling.
To set a bit of background: I am of the opinion that everyone has rights and freedom to choose, without fear of reprisals, persecution and discrimination, especially with regards to to personal basic stuff like sexual orientation, choice in abortion, gender equality, respect for others’ freedom to practise and express their opinions and beliefs. I cannot stand the imposition of one’s beliefs on another whether by force, stealth or other forms of coercion. This stems from my personal experience as a six year old who, along with with my younger sisters, was lured and “brainwashed” by a pair of smiling young women Christian evangelists to “drive out” the false evil gods sitting in my home and accept the true god of Christianity or risk burning in hell. As children of practising Taoists, and having visited Haw Par Villa, the burning in hell bit did it. When they asked if we want to be saved, of course I said YES for all of us. We were told it was simple, that we only had to repeat what they said (which I know now to be prayers). Though a six year old who had barely started learning English, I grew more and more uncomfortable, not to mention scared and confused, at the things we seemed to be repeating, which seemed to include clauses for burning in hell for offending the Christian god in future. Thankfully, our mother swooped in before the deal was sealed and rescued us. I still remember the look of disappointment on the two women’s faces as our mother herded us away. Our mother was scared and angry of course, and tried to help us understand the enormity of what the two women had attempted when we got home. I felt sick then and prayed at the altar in our home for forgiveness and for assistance to drive out the evil god that I almost accepted. From then, I had bad dreams of being burnt in hell by the Christian god for the longest time. The incident happened while I and my sisters were out playing in the neighbourhood playground, just 20m away from our second storey 1-room flat, while waiting for my mother to return from errand running. It was a long time ago in an age when neighbourliness was such that every mother did the same. But after that incident, though she continued to allow us to run down to the playground ourselves, our mother made sure to keep an eye on us from the corridor – there goes the neighbourhood really. Now that I know, I feel nothing but pity and contempt for evangelists who prey on the naive, desperate and the weak in the name of their god or think the world must live by their creed. Talk about forced enlistment! How Religion Ruins Relationships so: why can’t people just accept people for what they are instead of trying to force-mould others to their truths?
With this tangling mess at AWARE, surely it shows the danger we are in from such fundamentalists.
Time to stop hiding and take a stand, like Angel did.
The first I knew of the AWARE sage was this TODAY article (pdf alt. Comment on this article: AWARE: a civil society primer). I had really thought it was a storm in a teacup. But unfolding events show it is not so simple, and where the ilk of Thio Su Mein are involved, alarm bells must ring. Then I read that the DBS tie-up with Focus on the Family (which had seemed mildly insipid if a little unfathomable) was under the aupices of Josie Lau, new AWARE president in her capacity as DBS’ head of credit cards marketing. Back when it broke, I had thought it was a simple fluke that a secular organisation picked such a strongly anti-anything non-christian group which is hardly heard of in Singapore for their Corporate Social Responsibility gig.
(Side-track: This weekend past was a flag day for Focus on the Family. Asking money from the public of Singapore to fund their “work”. The cheek! People, please do pay attention to what you are contributing to.)
One other thing I have to mention about AWARE – when the SARS crisis happened, some AWARE members came forward to offer us their moral support. They felt that active volunteers involved in civil society should help each other out. If you’d like find out what you can do, go to We Are Aware.
mrsbudak‘s thoughts are educational and eye-opening too. In fact, I got a few references off them Here are her posts in chronological order:
- AWARE “take over”
- Can AWARE be selective about human rights? Re: AWARE takeover
- AWARE and Joel’s Army
- Being “inclusive” means must reject because not all accept
- AWARE EOGM change location
Other important and interesting references:
- AWARE – And Why You Should Cancel Your DBS Credit Cards
- Pirates ahoy! Gay netizens and the AWARE hijacking (beware, this is from the blog of Mr Alex Au, the prominent gay rights activist whose biggest crime in the eyes of the new AWARE exco is being one of four panelists in the 2005 forum “Playing it Safe: Keeping HIV at Bay”, organised by AWARE in response to the threat that women faced from the rising incidence of HIV/Aids in Singapore. Can anyone say Myth in serious need of debunking?)
- Josie And The Pushy Cats on TV… (from the blog of playwright Ovidia YU, who wrote the most excellent Silence of the Kittens)
- A Steeplejacking of a Women’s NGO In Singapore: A rare glimpse at how Joel’s Army groups work in practice