ST letter by Azmeen Moiz (Ms)
AS COMMITTEE members of the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw), we are disturbed by the sacking of not just the chair, Ms Braema Mathi, but also the entire sub-committee.
On April 16, honorary treasurer Sally Ang of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) informed Ms Mathi by e-mail that the latter’s term had ceased as of the date of the annual general meeting (AGM). On April 18, she said in an e-mail: ‘May I reiterate that under the Aware Constitution, the Cedaw sub-committee that you chaired had been dissolved and your office as chairman ceased on the date of the AGM, March 28.’
We say sacked because:
# To the best of our knowledge, no other committee or chair was informed under the Constitution that it had been dissolved – only the Cedaw committee;
# The Constitution does not state that the office of a chair of a sub-committee will automatically lapse with a new executive committee (exco). Instead, the Constitution specifically states that members of each sub-committee may elect their own chair and that the appointment of the chair shall be approved by the exco; and
# In the past 24 years of Aware’s history, no chair or sub-committee of any ongoing project has had its term cease in such a manner.
We still do not know why.
Ms Sally Ang’s e-mail dated April 18 also suggested that we did not produce the draft Cedaw shadow report by the time of the AGM. At the AGM, Ms Halijah Mohamad, a Cedaw member, had clarified that the draft report was not ready.
We wrote on April 22 to the exco to protest against Ms Mathi’s sacking and to reiterate that we were not behind schedule to submit the final report to the United Nations. No response was received. Instead, Aware president Josie Lau wrote a letter to the Forum Page on April 24 (‘Aware chief: Sub-com head was not sacked’), implying inefficiencies.
So we repeat: The original deadline for the Cedaw sub-committee was March, but it was changed for reasons including the need for further research. We will be in time for submission to the UN whose website shows no date of submission right up to 2010 for a country report on Singapore.
Many of us had the honour of producing the last Cedaw shadow report in 2007. We note that none of the new exco members has ever expressed interest in joining our ongoing Cedaw sub-committee. We are distressed at being sacked without consultation.
Azmeen Moiz (Ms)
(This letter carries 13 other names)