Friday, April 24, 2009

New AWARE : How to make enemies and offend people.

Many years ago, my dad gave me a book entitled "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie[Link]. My dad had read the book diligently and underlined the important points. I took a quick look at the book and told my dad that I didn't need to read it because it was all common sense - be honest, have noble motives, show respect ....and so on. Common sense it turned out is not so common.

Even if the new AWARE Exco is not interested in making friends, shouldn't they be trying to influence people? This is really a case study on what not to do - they have hurt their cause, got the whole nation suspicious of them, offended many people and undermined their own credibility. They got into a situation where the more they explain themselves, the more questions pop up. Lets put everything in the proper context before we see what mess this group of people created for themselves. Singapore is a multiracial and multi religious society living together on a small island. Like it or not we will never be homogenous in our beliefs and values. Everyone gets their space and it is essential to respect each others differences and right to live his/her own life. However, when there are moral issues we feel strongly about we are free to voice our opinion - some people are don't want the casinos, others are concerned about the growing prostitution problem in Geylang, and so on. All religions are free to recruit and convert others so long as you don't run down somebody else's religion. People with religion are protected by various laws including the Sedition Act. I'm all right with that except they forgot to protect the non-religious people like myself who gets ridiculed for having difficulties believing a book written 2000 years ago carries the ultimate truth and that a superior being exists and watch over us ......the point is all of us have tolerate each other and be mindful of each others' sensitivities.


In 2008 we had this big debate as a nation about 377A - a symbolic law that is not enforced but seen by many gay people as a piece of legislation that criminalises their behaviour. Nobody expected the law to be repealed given that it is politically undoable given the conservative nature of our society. However, a good debate would promote greater understanding among everyone ..for concerns to be expressed and it would be good for our leaders to tell the gay people where they stand and the difficulties they face repealing this law. The debate in parliament was quite amicable until NMP Thio took the mic. In her speech[watch it here on YouTube], she hurled numerous accusations - associated gays with pedopiles, accused them of having a broader hidden agenda to harm society and that gay people were out to take away her freedom to speak up. This is precisely the type of speech one should never give if the aim was to influence people and win them over. It was a speech that manufactured a lot of hate...she later received a few hate mail and took the opportunity to insinuate that gay people are also hateful people. If you listen to the speech carefully again, there is one part in the speech where she accused gay people of infiltrating rights group with dishonest intent - a bit bizarre you would think now that her mom found to be behind the takeover AWARE....who is infiltrating what and with what intent?

After the new AWARE exco was formed, there was intense interest in what the new exco was about what were they up to taking over a 25 year old organisation. They had a news conference in which they explained that AWARE had strayed from its feminist goals and they purpose was to bring it back. This is really a strange accusation to make because the founding feminist members of AWARE are still around....how can they have possibly strayed when the people running it were the same people running it 25 years ago! The evidence they gave was a sexuality programme that AWARE runs in schools. The New Paper (Saturday article-25 April 2009) interviewing teachers in the programme found that the main purpose was to teach girls how to say 'no' to sex. However, the programme did teach that homosexuality is not wrong by classifying it as 'neutral' - according to the New Paper this was just a small part of the programme. If some people be it parents or teachers who are not happy which this aspect of the programme, surely they can ask for it removed....the are principals involved here and they are also responsible for what is taught in their schools. Because AWARE did not condemn homosexuality, it has strayed from its feminist goals? You can't run a useful sex education programme without covering homosexuality and the use of condoms to prevent pregnancies. So the new AWARE has taken over to 'right this wrong' and have homosexuality reclassified as 'negative' .....by doing that they can prevent people from becoming gay? I think they can save more souls by recruiting more people into their religion.

Before this takeover, the old exco had members from the Sikh, Muslim and Christian communities and plenty of diversity. The same cannot be said of the new exco. When they took over AWARE, many people see them as being guilty of the same things NMP Thio was accusing the other camp of - having hidden agendas, taking over rights group to further their own selfish cause. The old guards who ran AWARE for many years providing much needed profession help to troubled many women over many years are understandably deeply hurt by all these unfair accusations. The new exco will soon discover that they have not only hurt others, they have hurt themselves and their own credibility. The lesson for the rest of us is this - whatever your cause is, whatever your beliefs remember that you have to respect others to win them over...if you to manufacture hate, suspicion and unfair accusations, you will lose credibility and hurt your own cause. This misguided group (and their moral mentor) fighting an imagined moral war are better off spending their energy to spread their beliefs...there is nothing to stop small chapels from becoming mega-churches in Singapore and saving more souls in the process....if they are right , surely they will be able to win people over ...and not have to take over somebody elses' organisation and create so much ill will, unhappiness and friction in the process.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is customary for some people to create a mess for themselves in order to come together to foster a seige mentality, a martyr mindset, a 'test' for themselves by their lord of their "faith". They are call fundamentalists.

Onlooker said...

The result of wanting instant success.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean we are to respect the ministers point of view that he is being paid peanuts.=)

I think that if u fundamentally disagree with some one, there is really no nice way to say it. There are only bad ways and worse ways.

Ever tried deconverting a christian? =)

I have deep respect for lucky, maybe there is something here I dun understand...

LuckySingaporean said...

Anon 11:06,

If you recall the 'peanuts' pay debate, most netizens, all opposition members press the govt to explain to explain and justify why they have to be paid so much. The govt couldn't do it convincingly and it is obvious who won the debate, influenced people and win friends. It was a win-lose thing...all done in fairness.

An opposition member could have stood up and accused people of being greedy, wanting money for mistresses & luxury homes in foreign countries etc and the debate would have taken us somewhere else and turned into a lose-lose-lose situation. I'm glad people in Singapore - netizens and opposition alike didn't do this and hurt themselves in the process.

When NMP Thio stood in parliament and associated Singapore gays with pedopiles in NAMBLA and when the new exco accused the old exco of straying to promote homosexuality, certain lines are crossed.

For all the people who intensely dislike the govt, remember that if you make a false accusation against the PAP, you only hurt yourself. You want to criticise the govt be sure you have sufficient logic to back up your arguments otherwise you end up losing credibility yourself...and never make a blatantly false accusation - people are not stupid.

Anonymous said...

Okie. I think I understand now. What u are saying is that even if u feel your cause is so important that it justifies any kind of action, acting in such a way will actually jepordize your cause.

a reader said...

Lucky, i think the irony here is that what the new exco is doing would have been called hate-speech elsewhere--the reason why they can get away with this is because 377-A is in force. they borrow moral authority from the state for their narrow-minded ideas/ideals; no question, the whole parodic "Feminist Mentor" thing was a homage to That.

the problem with aligning yourself so closely to any organisation is that you can't attack one without invariably attacking the other; likewise, moral authority is "shared". the state i presume doesn't like this, but they will not be prodded into casting them off like a tapeworm.

and nothing is going to change, as long as one isn't concerned with making friends in the first place. GRCs and a congregation operate on similar exclusionary tactics, don't they? and that's very ironic ;)

Anonymous said...

Lucky,

There are rich people out there who think they are "smart" & "powerful". It's natural for these people to shoot themselves in the feet in a lifetime. History has plenty of such people and Thio Su Mien & her lesbianless gang surely belong to this group.

These sort of people don't really want debates (even if they are lawyers). They just want their right of ways. So no point debating lah. The longer the mess is, the better it is. Just like the longer the mess in Singapore's economy is, the better it is to create sufficient negative energy to topple the PAP.

Anonymous said...

Off topic - just wanna share this article from Ft.com, regarding the "war of talent" rhetoric.

The 'war for talent' is first casualty of the crisis - By David Bolchover

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/424871ae-27c1-11de-9b77-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1

fish 'n' chips said...

Dear Lucky

I would have to disagree with you on this reasoning when you mentioned...

"This is really a strange accusation to make because the founding feminist members of AWARE are still around....how can they have possibly strayed when the people running it were the same people running it 25 years ago!"

I'll take you back to memory lane and I quote

"But we either believe in democracy or we not. If we do, then, we must say categorically, without qualification, that no restraint from the any democratic processes, other than by the ordinary law of the land, should be allowed... If you believe in democracy, you must believe in it unconditionally. If you believe that men should be free, then, they should have the right of free association, of free speech, of free publication. Then, no law should permit those democratic processes to be set at nought, and no excuse, whether of security, should allow a government to be deterred from doing what it knows to be right, and what it must know to be right... "

"If it is not totalitarian to arrest a man and detain him, when you cannot charge him with any offence against any written law - if that is not what we have always cried out against in Fascist states - then what is it?… If we are to survive as a free democracy, then we must be prepared, in principle, to concede to our enemies - even those who do not subscribe to our views - as much constitutional rights as you concede yourself."

"Repression, Sir is a habit that grows. I am told it is like making love-it is always easier the second time! The first time there may be pangs of conscience, a sense of guilt. But once embarked on this course with constant repetition you get more and more brazen in the attack. All you have to do is to dissolve organizations and societies and banish and detain the key political workers in these societies. Then miraculously everything is tranquil on the surface. Then an intimidated press and the government-controlled radio together can regularly sing your praises, and slowly and steadily the people are made to forget the evil things that have already been done, or if these things are referred to again they're conveniently distorted and distorted with impunity, because there will be no opposition to contradict."

You and I know better who gave those speeches back in the 1950s and that was more than half a century ago. Yes! He is none other than our Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew. But what happen after that? And may I quote you "how can they have possibly strayed when the people running it were the same people running it...".

So do you still subscribe to your convictions about "how can they have possibly strayed when the people running it were the same people running it 25 years ago" which works out to only a quarter century ago?

All the best to you and happy writing!!!

Anonymous said...

So what if they make enemies and offend people? Legally they have done nothing wrong. They also achieve what they want.

So there is no case. Don't you think this also happens in hundreds of other situations? Of course there may be repercussions but that is another matter for another time.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't the old guards call in the army for the freak election ? Oppss.s.. I forget unlike the old fart, they did not own the army, the police, the citizen, Singapore etc.

You must first seek to influence people first before buying and fixing them like the clown prince.

Anonymous said...

Hi fish 'n' chips

One point to clarify,

when he made those speeches in parliament he was in the opposition party of the then David Marshall's parliament.

I am sure you must have notice the change once he was in power. And have you notice any change in ideology since then.

my 2¢..

DanielXX said...

Those bunch of AWARE clowns .... since they like taking the back door, maybe they'd like their back doors to be taken too back at home...

To me, the way one does things says a lot about one's character. The end justifies the means? It's the process that's more important. That's why whatever Josie and her pussies claims how noble their agenda is, I am never going to take AWARE seriously as long as this unscrupulous bunch is in charge.

Anonymous said...

"Legally they have done nothing wrong. They also achieve what they want."

And this is the problem when 'sophisticated' people think that they can always display this legalistic badge as a cover. And deep inside, common sense calculation is always taking place among many people while at the time smirking at the grand legal yardstick usually invoked by those legal-happy nuance-depleted-self-congratulating poor souls.

Maybe they should really read Dale Carnegie.

Anonymous said...

"So there is no case. Don't you think this also happens in hundreds of other situations? Of course there may be repercussions but that is another matter for another time."

But that depends on the type of organisation and the scale of implication. If is just a five-member club among close cousins or a company committee for some overseas incentive outing, no one is going to bother.

Anonymous said...

Why these bunch of newies form their own group name BEWARE to undermine AWARE if they think AWARE is problematic.

AWARE of BEWARE
BEWARE of AWARE.

Anonymous said...

if you think about it,the circumstances do not permit setting up another counter organization.

the new team believes the old team is sowing an insidious seed in our society.

tiny the seed maybe, but these folks sincerely believe the fruits are of the Sodom and Gomorrah kind. these women care enough about their children and the future generation to act, quiver, get hysterical etc for the press and public amusement in order to nip the problem at its butt

granted, the execution of the new team was not exactly smooth sailing. we also know that the press had a hand in engineering a negative perception of the new team in favor of the old matrons.

in any case, these logger heads cannot be resolved with our classic, calm and calculative "ministerial style" approach.

the seething differences will just get swept under the carpet and our society will become more skeptical and cynical each passing day.

Anonymous said...

Lucky said:

"...if they are right , surely they will be able to win people over ...and not have to take over somebody elses' organisation and create so much ill will, unhappiness and friction in the process."

Lucky, the thing is, that it is not somebody else's organisation. It is one that has a pivotal role in society and does not belong to anyone. That being said, I suppose the "fundies" as you mentioned, wanted the change in the direction they believe the old guards are heading towards. There has been an increase in recent years in this chosen lifestyle that has flourished rapidly in the 21st century, especially amongst teens and young adults.

We try not to be judgemental towards those who prefers their chosen lifestyle, but neither should we encourage the young to accept such sexual orientations as normal and acceptable. Christians and many other religions believe that the Almighty frowns upon such "abominations" and marriage should only be between men and women. Not desiring to go further than this, I seriously doubt these people are "fundies' out to convert all and sundry into their religion. Yes, they might want to veer the organisation away from what they see is detrimental to society as a whole. The takeover might be controversial but then, is there a nicer and better way?

Anonymous said...

We try not to be judgemental towards those who prefers their chosen lifestyle, but neither should we encourage the young to accept such sexual orientations as normal and acceptable.To the anon above. Does having a neutral stance towards homosexuality equate to 'encouraging' homosexuality?

Beware the word play and twisting of context by some people.

Anonymous said...

Why don't the New Guard of Aware and Mr Holy Pastor Hong take over the PAP government since Mr Lee Hsien Loong and Mr Goh Chok Tong have taken a soft stance toward gays and lesbians in the last few years? The New Guard and Mr Hong can simply interpret Mr Lee and Goh as "encouraging the young to accept such sexual orientations as normal and acceptable." to take over the government.

Why, Ms Thio & Thio and gang, no guts to take on PAP ah?

Anonymous said...

There are 2 issues to the AWARE saga and these 2 issues are also perennial ones of society at large:

1) The issue of ethics

2) The issue of legality

From the legal angle, the new exco looks legitimate as it had been elected by popular vote, never mind those who voted for them came from the same religious background.

On the other hand, there is the age-old question of ethics - how the new exco went about securing their positions.

However since the new exco seems to be especially interested in addressing ethical issues like those of homosexuality and teaching of human sexuality in school, well then from the start they got to show that they have the moral standing to talk about such issues.

If society now perceives their action as underhanded, then that leave their moral standing much to be desired.

Would people go to them for moral counsel knowing what kind of people they are? May be yes, if they are able to stay put long enough. After all people have short memories about such things.

Otherwise PAP wont be in control for so long given its records.

Ghost said...

The new Exco need better PR. Personally I think that's their biggest problem because I believe most Singaporeans agree with their stand against homosexuals.

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. Yes the actions of the new AWARE committee is the very antithesis of what Dale Carnegie taught in his bestseller. In one fell swoop, Josie Lau and her band of merry women had:

1) disgraced themselves beyond measure of redemption
2) brought disrepute to their church
3) brought their religion into question
4) brought AWARE into disrepute, which thankfully, will be reversed when these newbies relinquish their posts (but will they?)
5) threatened their own professional positions (Ms Lau's job at DBS is as good as gone).

How to Make Enemies and Offend People? Yes indeed! Josie Lau has become her own worst friend now. What more can one say?

Just to make my position clear: I am not gay nor do I support gays, but I do believe in tolerance of other beliefs and lifestyles. What Josie Lau and her friends have done in bulldozing their way into an organisation that has done a lot of good for several years is just terrible, and reeks of the worst kind of unChristian intolerance. Their actions should not be countenanced in a civil society like ours, with people of various religious beliefs or none.

Curdee

Anonymous said...

hey everyone,
let's not take this discussion out of context. there seem to be a lot of bashing of both the new and old guards, and the govt. for the record, i agree with Lucky. I think the whole fiasco has gotten out of hand, and it has become a mess.
More importantly, i think it's a huge concern if our current sex education in schools are actually teaching homosexuality/lesbianism as "neutral", meaning its normal and acceptable. I dunno how true this is, bit if it is - then I think we should stop it.
I have nothing personal against individuals who have a slant in their sexual orientation.
But, all said, it doesn't make gay behaviour "normal". I dread to think that my kids are exposed to this new-age teaching, and potentially influence their otherwise proper sexual orientation. This is my personal belief and stand, and I think its also where the new exco is coming from.
Their fundamental beliefs, and actions to rise up to make a change, have caused them to run as new exco members. I see nothing wrong in it. Of course, on hindsight, the whole course of actions, press statements, approach etc... (both new and old excos) could have been better handled.

Anonymous said...

What happened at AWARE has the same footprints as how Chee Soon Juan snatched SDP from Chiam See Tong. Which costs SDP demise.

The only difference at AWARE is it comes with religious colourings.

Lets see how long AWARE can last.

Anonymous said...

the take over is inevitable.

but can the religious group, in particular the christians, deliver a balance perspective and retain the society "inclusiveness"?

unlikely.this faith can be very rigid,contentious, condemning and hypocritical to offer a balance view or be seen as balance.

after all, nothing rile them, in particular the women, more than "defiant sex"?

i expect to see more internal struggle for power.

Desmond Lim said...

Ghost said...
"The new Exco need better PR. Personally I think that's their biggest problem because I believe most Singaporeans agree with their stand against homosexuals."

Actually I think majority of Singaporeans don't care about their stand, the same way majority of Singaporeans didn't care about the IRs. Since it actually doesn't touch on "bread and butter" issues.

Anonymous said...

What internal struggle???

It's a Happy FAMILEE gathering at the New Aware HQ!
Mentor Dowager Ms Thio with her niece-in-law Ms Josie Lau as the head.
And (mark my words) sooner or later, Ms Thio Li-Ann as Senior Advisor. What else? Holy Ghost Pastor Hong as the Senior Mentor. I betcha the Aware endowment fund will go to their holy Church soon hahaha...

WOW. Totally a shadow of the PAP government in the making!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 12.51 pm

"but can the religious group, in particular the christians, deliver a balance perspective and retain the society "inclusiveness"?

unlikely.this faith can be very rigid,contentious, condemning and hypocritical to offer a balance view or be seen as balance."

Your view too is pretty unbalanced by that statement. You mean to say the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and other faiths will not be like the Christians as they are not rigid, contentious, condemning and hypocritical? Why only the Christians? This is a very presumptious statement.

Anonymous said...

you conveniently forgot the initial drama

Anonymous said...

If you support, the old Exco be sure to register at http://www.we-are-aware.sg There is a lot of supportive talk on blogs and in forums but it's hard to know how many of those voices will be attending the EGM. Registering will also help them plan and organise the logistics for the day, and to make sure that the event goes as smoothly as can be expected under these circumstances.
Thanks.

Anonymous said...

hmmm..how about putting "locks" on these vigilantes? :)

Xtrocious said...

To anon @12.20pm

I don't think gay thing is a "new age teaching" - they have been around for a long time...

It is because of our "new age" teaching that we learn to shun them and see them as "untouchables"...for this, we may have the Victorians and their prudish attitudes to thank for this...

Anyway, jokes aside, I think there's nothing wrong to present a balanced view to kids (they are a lot more mature and discerning than we give them credit for)...

If you think that having a neutral view about homosexuality is bad, then what about the daily doses of violence that they get exposed to on the telly?

But so far, we don't see a lot of violent kids around - so I suspect that their ability to rationalise between what is right and what is not is probably quite well developed...

Anonymous said...

oh..since the minister has land his weight on this issue, they will behave alright.

meooooow.MEoooooooow!MEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOW hahaaaa

as usual, they will behave on the outside of course. hahaaaa

aiyah, in general, these women all quite "kuai kuai" wan lah.

better or....cat whip!whip!whip!hahaaaaaa

Anonymous said...

210 you living in which part of the world ah?hahaaaaa

Anonymous said...

"Why, Ms Thio & Thio and gang, no guts to take on PAP ah?"

For all we know, it may be a veiled threat to PAP not to try to be funny with the Church. As we know our Govt had some trouble with some cult church members, this may be payback time as election is approaching.

For all we know, COOS may have some hidden agenda or have an axe to grind with the authorities, we can never really tell until it is too late.

Anonymous said...

"The lesson for the rest of us is this - whatever your cause is, whatever your beliefs remember that you have to respect others to win them over...if you to manufacture hate, suspicion and unfair accusations, you will lose credibility and hurt your own cause."

This is a lesson for the PAP regime, who did not try to respect others to win them over.... the PAP regime manufacture hate, suspicion and unfair accusations about the oppositions.... someday they would lose credibility and hurt their own cause.

Anonymous said...

table talk with penang chief minister was classic

when asked...but you are not teaching them to fish...his reply

there are two aspects to this: one is fish nets and the other is fish. how can you get people to fish when they don't even have the strength to fish? to those who criticize me by saying that these measures are cruel because they teach people to be reliant, i ask them: have you been poor? can you work on an empty stomach?

PLEASE LAH! Haaaaaaa

PLEEEEEASE LAAAAAAAH...HAAAAAAA

now why can't we have such ministers. ha

DanielXX said...

Lim Guan Eng is a brilliant speaker. Read some of his replies to interview questions in ST today. None of our boring ministers can touch him.

Btw, how much does he cost? One-hundredth of the cost? And fire in the belly along with the package? So which one is the 1st world country?

Anonymous said...

He has none, as far as I know, of our leaders excesses. I hope he keeps it that way.

To stay humble,one must also live humbly.

Anonymous said...

The Christian God gave mankind absolute freedom to disobey him. Homosexuality is not acceptable but punishment will be up to Him to decide. Not Man (or woman). This has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with people. people with too much power and who want to impose their morals onto others. Which in fact is the very thing Jesus will not do. 'cos the end result is a more assertive gay population and a more receptive mainstream.

Moderate

yamizi said...

If you realise that there is no God, then peace and harmony will truly reign!

Anonymous said...

Whether there is God or not, which mortal can tell?

If every1 believes there is no God (or greater power) there will be peace? Rubbish. See old communist Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. It was largely Christian USA + Western Europe that kept them in check.

Moderate

Anonymous said...

PM,SM, MM now FM. What's next?
GM - Gay Minister?lol

Anonymous said...

How nice to come and live in Singapore to read most Singaporeans have a stance against homosexuality.

Do they also have a stance against blond hair or brown eyes? Will teaching your precious children about the existence of white skin turn them all into Caucasians?

How convenient to brush aside all scientific data that clearly indicates homosexuality is a genetic condition and there is not a heck of a lot any religion or other self proclaimed morality can do to change that.

But than again, science is the enemy of many a dreamed up ideal...

Maybe Singapore should de-prioritize the science-hub idea and aspire to become a second Vatican City. We all know no pope will need to be elected as I can think of an local older gentleman that suits the profile perfectly...

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