AWARE: Appeal for cool heads and compromise ( Unpublished letter to the Forum editor)
I read with concern of how the recent AWARE AGM had led to the emergence of two groups of Singaporeans who are now set on an apparent collision course.
This is not just any ordinary boardroom tussle where the losers nurse bruised egos and live to fight another day. The stakes are much higher. Everyone stands to lose.
In this fight , battle-lines are already drawn and allegedly, God’s name is even invoked amidst warning that He does not want “our nation crossing that line”.
Singapore has been fortunate to have racial and religious harmony for the past decades. This should not be taken for granted for we have seen with our own eyes in regions as close as Indonesia and as far as the Baltics, how religion, when stirred by provocateurs, had become the root cause of hatred instead of love; strife instead of harmony.
In those places, it did not take much to spark off hatred and mistrust amongst previously peace-loving neighbourhoods. Communities, many with families of different faiths living side by side for generations, were torn apart and like poor Humpty Dumpty, can never be put “back together again”.
Hence I totally agree with Minister Vivian Balakrishnan that religion must be kept out of this debate and that a “rainbow coalition” is needed in order for AWARE to work effectively.
May I humbly suggest:
1.Some of New AWARE ex-co members should voluntarily step down to make way for a more inclusive “rainbow coalition” ex-co. In order to allay fears that this is a “church-based” conspiracy, no more than 2 members should be from the same church.
2.New ex-co members, preferably from racial minorities and of different faiths should be co-opted.
3. The Old AWARE should now know that there is a substantial group of people who are conservative and who are suspicious of any attempts at sexual liberalizations, even if these are well-intended. Old AWARE might consider working with the “rainbow coalition” ex-co by being co-opted.
It is apparent to most of us that there are many parents who are not comfortable with or are misinformed about Old AWARE’s work in the schools. Parents need more information if they are to wholeheartedly support this work.
4.As a gesture of goodwill, Old AWARE should retract the “motion of no confidence” in order to give this new “rainbow coalition” time to work.
I hope that cool heads will prevail for the sake of our nation, a nation that all of us love and treasure.
Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan
Addendum (4.5.09): At EOGM ( 2nd May 09)- The NEW AWARE ( led by Josie Lau) lost a vote of no-confidence by a ratio of 2:1 and resigned. New committee headed mainly be Old-guards retook control of AWARE.
NB: Letter sent to Forum Page Editor- Not published.