Saturday, April 18, 2009

AWARE: Demonstration Of Democracy

The recent developments at AWARE have been most fascinating. To have an understanding about the official point of view and preference about what we're supposed to think, it's useful to refer to the Straits Times. Today's newspaper is full of stories about the negative aspects of the 'hostile takeover' as well as a negative portrayal of the new executive committee of the women's group. The unorthodox public scolding from the new President's boss DBS bank has also raised an eyebrow or two. Whether this is is just a good news story or whether this is a concerted effort to discredit the new team remains to be seen.

I believe that the new executive committee did nothing wrong per se to get elected. They followed the rules. They planned, they strategised, they got many people to attend the AGM, and they managed to get themselves voted in with their (and other unrelated people's) help. This is how one obtains power; any capable politician knows this.

Most of us are not aware that such a thing can be possible (as seen from the shock expressed by the existing members of the organisation). A change in leadership requires people to vote. Firstly, a lot of locals don't get to vote due to realities of electoral rules. (My father hasn't voted in parliamentary elections for 30 years, for example.) Second, when they do have a chance to vote, they should have some sort of expectation that they might be successful; that some things can, and might, be changed. Usually in this country, that doesn't happen (or at least change happens very slowly). That's one reason for the apathy of young people; they just don't believe that they can do anything to change things.

So, out of the blue, we have this AWARE snafu. A few people who did their homework, obeyed the rules and simply just showed up proved to the rest of the other members who chose to stay at home that change is indeed possible. It's not a mathematical, nor practical impossibility. But more than that, these people who planned the 'coup' at AWARE managed to do something far more psychologically significant. They demonstrated that it is possible to change the status quo, and to do it in just one AGM.

Now, this surely will result in a 'disturbance in the Force', a challenge to our existing paradigm. Do we sit on our lazy butts and wait for others to change things, or do we try to change some things ourselves? Now, one can carry this possibility into national elections, and the thought of it can be a little... disturbing, at least to some. Why might happen if more people thought that it is possible to enact change by voting? This might explain the current backlash against the new executive committee in the official press.

On a different note, I guess this development might be the beginning of the emergence of the right wingers I wrote about 4 years ago. This country cannot really afford this sort of thing, and I'm comforted that the man upstairs probably doesn't want it to happen too. There seems to be an EOGM next month. May the Force be with them...


Anonymous said...

unker jeff, tio fixed by Order 66 si boh????

Anonymous said...

"Today's newspaper is full of stories about the negative aspects of the 'hostile takeover' as well as a negative portrayal of the new executive committee of the women's group."

I totally agree with this. I always believed that we had an objective media, but in this event, I felt that CNA and TODAY have been out to discredit the new team all the way, right from creeping up with "sudden" televised interviews to the new committee.... which makes me suspect all the more the agenda behind the old committee! Well, this "coverage" certainly has made me lose my trust in our "independent" media.

Susan said...

Well they might have followed the rules per se but the way they have handled the situation you can hardly call this an honorable win. These people barely worked in the organisation for a year! If you set up a company with your own vision, someone else with less experience takes over as YOUR boss, says you have a lousy vision and discredits all your work, firing indiscriminately, and hires their friends to be fellow mgmt are you hardly going to welcome them with open arms?

jeffyen said...

Yes, the win per se was fair and square. That was my point for this entry. What happens next, of course, was terrible!