Tuesday, May 05, 2009

AWARE T Shirts. Get them while stocks last

Haha....4 days after the AWARE saga at Suntec, I can still feel the energy teeming amongst my friends - some are even talking about volunteering and doing more for the society!!! Amazing.

Just today alone, there are 4 articles in the newspaper. In particular, I like an article titled "A Tale of Two Communities" by Simon SC Tay - chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs. In his contribution, he talked about the differences between vertical and horizontal societies, the lessons to be learned from the AWARE situation and also his thoughts on the governing of diversity. I found his article very readable and educational.
Read the article - A tale of two communities

I also would like to comment on just one more letter that was sent to the newspaper a couple of days ago. *sorry, a little long winded here*. That particular letter was from a concerned parent regarding the CSE programme. In that letter, the concerned parent's opinion was primarily that MOE has no business in providing sex education programmes to students as this should be done by the parents.

I don't know about you but based on what I understand about MOST Asian families today, sex is still a relatively taboo topic, it is rarely - if ever- discussed at home. AND the fact remains that kids WILL have questions, they WILL turn to and confide with their peers and more often than not (perhaps ironically through peer pressure) they WILL experiment (whether you like it or not).

In other words, if you are a parent that will FIRSTLY make the effort to educate your kids about sex education (and telling them that they can get pregnant by kissing does not COUNT!) AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, have your kids AT THAT AGE listen to you. WELL DONE! You are very fortunate but please note that not every family is like yours.

Note: To supplement this, I am in full agreement with the opt-out option, which is currently in place, on the CSE programme. So my thoughts are that if you are a parent who find yourself surprised and upset with the one and only AWARE "sex educational" programme meted out by Josie and Dr Thio, it really shows that you have not been following up so closely with your kid's progress in school and if you are so concerned, maybe you should. NO ONE ever said it was easy to be a parent right?

Okay, so I've been watching the latest videos that have been posted online. Firstly, I am so glad to see ladies from different background, religion (muslim, christians YES!!), different hair color (haha) all stand up and take their turns at the mike. I always thought that Singaporeans are shy by nature so I guess they must feel quite strongly about this to have such a reaction that day. And perhaps, it is exactly BECAUSE they feel so strongly about it that I think the atmosphere became a little too emotional and to some people very rowdy and "unruly".

While I found certain actions of a few very vocal "old guard supporters" distracting and to a certain extent regrettable, I can understand the pent up frustrations that they brought to Suntec on that eventful day. (a little bias here...i admit)

As far as I recall, since the "crash and burn" press conferences by the new guards, virtually nothing else has been said as they continued their stealth operation of spending money they weren't supposed to spend and practicing "exclusiveness" in exco meetings (by not being upfront about their arrangements and thus making it even more difficult to reconcile differences between old and new guards). Once again, I find what they did to Chew I Jin downright deplorable. Josie herself could not have summarized it any better as she described in her own words, how she "kept a stoic and dignified silence". *Hah!

The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back must have been the way they spent the SGD 90K after being in office for a month. It really reflected in their lack of experience to run such a non profit organization as compared to running a corporate. (Hate to say, I TOLD YOU so)

In fact, the way things were played out that day, I might have gotten pretty riled up myself. Heaven forbid I sit there patiently to listen to Dr Thio's self promotion speech. Her "I'm so charmed that you put me on page 73" performance can still give me a stitch from all that laughing.

Okok! Sit down and shut up, Have respect for your elders, I'm on Page 73...has now become iconic phrases for that eventful day, its even COOL to have them printed on your shirts. By Singaporeans...For Singaporeans. Since 70% profit goes to Aware, I might consider getting more than one for myself. So much fun! -

Buy Cool Tshirts!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Rush blog - Thoughts on AWARE

The AWARE saga in Singapore has dominated the headlines for several weeks now and anyone following the affair can get easy access online to press conferences on YOUTUBE, articles from newspapers and opinions from individuals (not confined to Singaporean youths) from all different walks of life. Therefore, this particular post of mine is most definitely very "late in the game" but I feel compelled to blog about this before the EGM that is happening tomorrow. Come what may. If I were in Singapore, I would most definitely be joining my friends at Suntec city in a show of support for the OLD guards and since I can't be there, I can only contend to show my support in a more "online" manner.

In my humble opinion,

Organizations like AWARE should be run by honest, passionate people with the skills and integrity to achieve the organization's stated vision and mission. And though my life has never been impacted much by anything AWARE has done in the past 25 years at least they did not create the kind of doubts as the current exco's has. The old guard's integrity was never called into question, the new guard's actions are in my mind, downright deplorable.

Singapore has had more than her fair share of organizations gone wrong and my belief is that left unchecked, this will sooner or later end up very much like what has happened before....an organization deviating from its ORIGINAL purpose, operating under much false pretences. Non profit organization intending to serve the community but run like a corporation by a group of people with hidden agendas.

In the case of AWARE, and as demonstrated by the new exco's last press conference, it is turning from a secular-intended organization into one that is not so secular, run by individuals who fully intend to force their religious beliefs and standards onto as many people as possible. "Elitist" who feel that they have found the answer/meaning to life, people who think that they are morally better than others. Last but not least, Christians who give christians a bad name.

Before I get too fired up on this topic, since there are already plenty of information online, I will not choose to reiterate them here. However, if you are interested to find out more, I would gladly like to point you to 2 sites that I found are worthwhile to visit:
1) http://we-are-aware.sg/
2) http://sdhammika.blogspot.com/ by Shravasti Dhammika -a Buddhist monk for 32 years and the spiritual advisor to the Buddha Dhamma Mandala Society in Singapore.

I think my stand on the events unfolding is clear enough but now I'm going to take a step back and marvel about the "change" in the air.

Back in junior college, I recall a very angry principal who requested everyone in the school to write a 5 page essay on the "dangers of apathy" or face the consequence of eternal detention. :) As students, we held "secret" discussions on whether we would deliver on the essay and at the final hour, we finally took the path of least resistance and submitted a half hearted attempt at best. Seriously, we couldn't care less.

Fast forward to the present day, I see my friends openly debating on this topic and willing to "blow" a perfectly good Saturday afternoon cooped up in the EGM of some organization because they feel like they need to make their voices heard. I'm really quite impressed as with the Obama campaign where young Americans not only went out of their way to vote but also volunteer their precious time to do their part at the campaigns. Same group of friends...different perspective in life. Like I said, I wish I could be there with your gals.

Sure......., I still have friends who couldn't care less. Some feel that this matter has been blown out of proportion (of which I sometimes find myself becoming a little offended as I do not understand why they do not see the dangers of - give these fundamentalist an inch and they demand a yard).

However, at the end of the day, I understand that each of us are entitled to our own opinion and we should learn to "agree to disagree in an agreeable manner". This is in contrast to what I feel the current exco (loosely term - the church goers of COOS) of AWARE is doing.

I think it is so ridiculous and deep down inside find it quite so amusing. I must imagine that they thought that they would get away with their cleverly thought out "stealth operation", that like my principal, they thought that singaporeans wouldn't care. I believe the tables have flipped against them for now they can only contend to play the victim and try to garner support from fellow church goers. I refuse to believe that Christians will support just for the sake of supporting this. Like I said, a small group of christians who give christians a bad name.

Official notices from AWARE states that Registration will begin at 12noon. Bring your NRIC for admission.