An open letter to Ms Josie Lau

Written by Ng E-Jay
29 April 2009

Dear Ms Josie Lau,

In your letter to AWARE members dated 28 April 2009, you wrote of your wish to “honour and celebrate the achievements of first generation Singapore women and to emulate their spirit of perseverance and to learn from their experience and vision”. You also put forward your rhetoric that “AWARE belongs to you”.

Yet all your actions thus far have been in contradiction to your supposed ideals. You used stealth and subversion to invade AWARE, you got your supporters to vote your team into office despite not having made any contribution towards women in Singapore, you unceremoniously displaced the Old Guard, and you spread vicious lies about AWARE’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) programme. Your contradictions have been exposed one after another, yet you persist on your sordid path, pretending to bury your head in the sand.

You tell readers that you wish to honour those who had served before you. Yet you sacked Braema Mathi in the rudest way possible and removed the subcommittee chairs the moment you took office. You say that AWARE belongs to all, yet on the other hand you attempt to impose your own values and beliefs upon others, and ostracized the Old Guard at your press meetings. If this is your definition of inclusiveness, you are making a mockery of the English language.

You claimed in your letter that you want to make a positive difference and help women in distress. Yet your abrupt and disruptive actions over the past few weeks have caused many genuine seekers of help to be neglected, due to the organization being caught up in the conflict that you have engendered.

You claimed that you are seeking to serve other women in Singapore, but all I can see is that you are serving your own bigoted cause. Your resume posted on AWARE’s website lists an impressive array of corporate credentials, but unfortunately it also reveals that you have never been involved in feminism or helping women. In the absence of any track record of feminist work, we have to judge you based on your words and deeds over the past few weeks. Your behaviour speaks for itself.

It is interesting you spent two full paragraphs of your letter discussing CEDAW, but mentioned nothing about the CSE programme that you and your motley crew have raved and ranted about. Perhaps you finally came to your senses when even the Ministry of Education had to step in to rebut your lies concerning CSE. Or perhaps after having laid your hands on the data and research that AWARE has painstakingly accumulated over the past decade, you are now ready to take over the work which rightfully belongs to others.

You said in your letter that “we should not be passive where we can band together to work for positive change”. On May 2, I am quietly confident that concerned members of AWARE will band together to reclaim the organization and the values that they cherish.

To use your own words, that is something worth protecting and fighting for.

Yours truly,

Ng E-Jay

“Aware belongs to you,” says Josie Lau

Tuesday, 28 April 2009, 10:35 pm

The following is Aware’s president Josie Lau’s latest email message to members, 28 April 2009

Dear Valued Members

Since my election as President on 14th April 2009, I have received intense media attention. A group of AWARE members has gone public with various allegations and have called for an EGM for the specific purpose of removing me and my team. We have only been in office for less than 20 days.

I am a woman seeking to serve other women in Singapore. Like you, I have struggles. I do not have all easy answers to the many hard questions that life throws up. No one does.

However, we should not be passive where we can band together to work for positive change. There are many things worth protecting and fighting for.

We want to make a positive difference to your lives and to our society. A good place to start is to help the many distressed women affected by the current economic crisis.

We are dedicated towards continuing our role as an NGO to ensure the effective implementation of CEDAW standards. We want to see abstract standards translated into meaningful policies which directly affect our lives and well-being. We will constructively engage with all interested governmental and non-governmental agencies, to progressively bring this goal to pass.

CEDAW as a women’s rights treaty belongs to all women. We are resolved to enhance widespread awareness of CEDAW standards among Singapore men and women and to provide an open forum to discuss how to better realise these standards.

We wish to honour and celebrate the achievements of first generation Singapore women and to emulate their spirit of perseverance and to learn from their experience and vision. In so doing, we connect the present to the past, as we work together for our better future.

I hope to see you at the upcoming EGM where we will present preliminary details of our programme and projects. My team and I seek your active support and participation in implementing these to serve our community.

AWARE belongs to you.

Warmest wishes

Josie Lau