How to win an EOGM and lotsa friends

May 4, 2009

cryingSo Josie and her Pussycats have been slapped down. The Christian community is reeling in half shame, half relief. The liberals are having drunken sex, the conservatives are crossing themselves, and we’re all happy that Singapore civil society is not always about whether or not it’s ok to eat sharks’ fin soup. Oh the excitement, the thrill, the sight of thousands of women screaming and jostling at a non-SALE event.

 The lull after the AWARE EOGM is like the ennui that comes after the end of the EPL season. What do we do now? Who’s going to entertain us? How are we going to fill up the echoing void we call life? Perhaps we can ponder over the invaluable lessons this big catfight has thrown up. After all, retrospection is best done as early as possible, right before hindsight sets in.

 Things could have been very different. If the vote went the other way we would be looking at a very conservative AWARE. So where did Josie and her Pussycats go wrong? Five easy lessons on how not to lose an EOGM and win many many friends.

Leave your teddy bear at home

Religious beliefs and private morality are like worn-out urine-stained teddy bears from your childhood. It provides comfort and assurance. It gives you that warm feeling that can only be replicated when a Catholic priest touches your bum. But you don’t go about carrying your old teddy bears to the office or dinner parties. Like teddy bears, religious morality should be kept at home or the church, and not paraded like you’re a 5 year old child all over again. By all means, play with your teddy bear at home. Feed it, talk to it, stroke it, hug it, pray with it, but don’t wave its arm at me and ask me to say ‘hi’ to it.

Be open about your girlfriends

Having six members of your exco coming from the same church is not a tactical takeover. It’s a classical psychoanalytical explanation for lesbianism. Look, you share the same background, come from the same ethnic group, you glance furtively at each other, you all dress alike, you deny you know each other, you protect each other, you yell at others who yell at one of you… let’s face it, Freud will tell you to get off his couch and stop wasting his time. Now, there’s nothing wrong with having girl cliques. The ‘old guard’ is a well known girl clique. But be open about it.

Don’t sell fear  

The key galvanizing point in this whole saga was that AWARE was promoting lesbianism and homosexuality in schools. The fear was that there would be “an entire generation of lesbians”. It’s a bit like saying teaching mathematics in school will lead to an entire generation of mathematicians. But that’s the Christian right for you, small on reason, big on fear. Religion is basically the selling of two valuable commodities – fear and guilt. If you can launder these two emotions in tandem, people gladly do anything you ask.

In truth, the sex education programme by AWARE was devised with the consultation of teachers and religious leaders. But this fact was an inconvenient truth for the Christian right. Furthermore, the quoted passages about keeping the term ‘homosexuality’, ‘sexy’ and ‘lesbianism’ neutral were not even in the actual syllabus but from the instructor’s guide which students had no access to. Finally, as one sex educator observed, teachers spent 30 minutes talking about abstinence and only about 2 minutes on homosexuality, but guess which whips the Christian right into a frenzy?

Your Pastor must not be living in La-la Land

Church of our Saviour Pastor Derek Hong was quoted as saying “It’s not a crusade against the people but there’s a line that God has drawn for us, and we don’t want our nation crossing that line.” Well, Pastor Numbnuts, Christians in Singapore only make up 14.9 per cent of the population, so your God is hardly in the majority. To believe that your Christian God has drawn a line in the sand for Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims and atheists is nothing short of arrogant. Our friend was this close to having the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act shoved up where the sun don’t shine. 

Your puppet master must not, preferably, be a psycho

I think God has a Thio Su Mien complex. Is there anyone quite as breathtakingly egoistic and self-centred as the Nutty Professor? I mean calling yourself ‘Feminist Mentor’ should be a crime against imagination. Pretty soon everyone’s going to use the term to denote authority, even ministers! Oh, ok scratch that.

But the lesson here is simple. If you want to orchestrate a takeover, make sure your puppet master is not completely psycho. She believed she could not ‘surface’ in the early stages and she believes this battle is nothing less than a spiritual warfare between Good and Evil, and that the Devil is behind Constance Singham, Braema Mathi, Dana Lam and the rest of the ‘old guard’. But worse of all, she actually believes that her successful career makes her a feminist.

Illusions of grandeur are nothing new. Napoleon, Hitler, Moses, parking wardens, they all suffer from it. It’s a personality defect that’s all too common. But when it’s coupled to another equally common defect – the belief that one is absolutely 100 per cent unrelentingly morally right, it becomes a very dangerous combination. Dr Thio is not uncommon in believing she is great. She is not uncommon in believing she is on the right side of morality; all Christians feel that way. She only became such a public caricature when she exhibited both defects simultaneously.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Josie and her Pussycats lost public sympathy because of two personalities – Derek Hong and Thio Su Mien. The emergence of these two people effectively swung public opinion against the ‘new exco’. Dr John Chew, head of the National Council of Churches, was forced come out and distance the Christian faith from Hong, while thanks to Thio’s “respect your elders” outburst, Khaw Boon Wan’s silly suggestion to ship our parents to JB actually sounds reasonable.

At the end of the day, when Josie and Kittycats look back, they would do well to realise that they’ve been arrogant, misguided and utterly intolerant. But unfortunately, as with all folks who believe they are doing God’s work on earth, they’ll think that the sinners of Singapore are hardened of heart and just aren’t ready to embrace the word of God. Amen.


34 Responses to “How to win an EOGM and lotsa friends”

  1. halozero Says:


    If anything, a thoroughly witty and entertaining read. I especially like your parking wardens comment.

  2. Alan Wong Says:

    Very balanced & well written piece of your mind.
    Keep it up!

  3. Robin Says:

    This is hands down the most hilarious thing I’ve read in the aftermath of the EGM. Groundnotes is now in my feed. Bravo!

  4. loupgarou Says:

    very funny and true.. *applaud*

  5. Meera Says:

    Absolutely hilarious and oh so true! Favourite quote – Religious beliefs and private morality are like worn-out urine-stained teddy bears from your childhood. It provides comfort and assurance. It gives you that warm feeling that can only be replicated when a Catholic priest touches your bum.

  6. 强仔 Says:

    Very well-written. I’m just amazed how Josie and gang made it look like they were the victims are their press con.

    To me, the saga was also about how we still prefer to keep our society as secular despite most of us having our personal religious beliefs.

  7. Shashimi Says:

    Very well-written post! I loved your teddy bear analogy. 🙂

  8. Saint Splattergut Says:

    very well written… sums it up nicely.
    but im not sure whether all christians think they are right all the time. i have a friend who calls herself a half-fucked catholic… so obviously she admits she is wrong a lot of the time. and actually i don’t think she believes that god has anything to do whether her brain makes a good decision.

    i say this as an out and proud atheist 🙂

    p.s. be careful, later ISD come catch you for making defamatory remarks abt religion!!! j/k

  9. D Says:

    I had a good laugh. Wicked sense of humour!! 😀

  10. […] How to win an EOGM and lotsa friends – […]

  11. 40+ Singaporean Says:

    An insightful post-mortem, funny as well.

    Would the writer please stand. Applause x3

  12. 40+ Singaporean Says:

    Sorry, forgot to mention that I particularly like the reference to respect for the elders and the link to Khaw Boon Wan’s suggestion.

    I am old enough to be able to ‘demand’ respect in some situation but will definitely hold back on this ‘right’ henceforth!

  13. Tan Ah Beng Says:

    “..Christians in Singapore only make up 14.9 per cent of the population, so your God is hardly in the majority.”

    Haha… that’s a good one! I believe Pastor Hong was referring to that little piece of land the church was sitting on when he referred to “our nation”.

  14. sushibar Says:


  15. This is wicked, man!

    I love it!

    I guess this whole ruckus started because Derek and his Dominoes have been too obsessed with what people do at the place “where the sun don’t shine”.

    With the humiliation at Suntec, do they now feel like having straws up their noses?


  16. bluex Says:

    Thank you, wish I discovered your blog earlier =)

  17. ellcrius Says:

    Wicked! Love the teddy bear analogy!

  18. flighty Says:

    Hey, nice piece, about catholic priests – didn’t they prefer young boys?

  19. mirax Says:

    So scathing and sarcastic! Nearly fell off my chair laughing. Thank you!

    You remind me of Ophelia Benson of the Butterflies and Wheels website – she skewers objects of derision with s similar precision. Am glad to have discovered your blog, write more please!

  20. Vicki Says:

    Religion indeed, is like a well-loved (read – stained with saliva and pee pee)teddy bear.

    Everyone else will be fine with your teddy bear, until you smear and mush it in their faces.

    Please, keep the teddy bear sniffing to yourself.

  21. smallvice585 Says:

    In war, we all take turn to win. The Christian Right may have lost this battle, but be warned – they will strike again. They will turn the Society of the Visually Handicapped into the Society of the Biblically Handicapped because if you can’t see God, you must be blind.

  22. LMAO Great stuff!

    Feed it, talk to it, stroke it, hug it, pray with it, but don’t wave its arm at me and ask me to say ‘hi’ to it.

  23. camil Says:

    I am not Singaporean but I happened to be in Singapore over the period of the AWARE debacle and followed with great amusement the reports in the media. I will post my impartial view as an independent foreigner. I think THE MANNER in which the self-styled “feminist mentor” has covertly used her influence over her church sisters to hijack the Aware committee is high handed and despicable. Several members of the new committee also declared that though they are from the same church, they do not know one another and their common link is Dr Thio Su Mien. If this be true, which is highly unlikely, then it goes to prove even further that the feminist mentor’s motive is a coup to take over control of Aware. She came up with a self-called press conference (she seems to like drama and self publicity) to explain that SHE was the one who mentored the new group. The only reason she advanced to justify her action was that she and obviously her church, thought that Aware under the old guards termed homosexuality as “neutral” which should in her books be “negative”. Given her self-righteousness and high-handedness which was evident in her press conference and at AGM, she would rather term homosexuality as not just “negative” but “punishable by death”! What in heaven’s name (sorry for the transgression) gives this self-proclaimed feminist mentor the right to hijack an established society founded by reputable Singaporean women just because she does not agree on the society’s moderate stand on homosexuality? Adding insult to injury, she must have mentored and engineered the sacking of the old Aware staff who had been there for over 15 years working for the organization. If she means only to set the path of Aware right which she has deemed has gone astray, does that include also cleaning up the entire staff to be replaced, yet again, by her own church members? And what about the $90K the new coup has spent within a few short weeks? They new committee should look at legal redress for personal reimbursement from the out-going committee if indeed they have been ultra virus.

    Deserving os special mention is the feminist mentor’s reference to her “being charmed” by Aware’s historical mention of her in their books as the first woman dean in the University of Singapore. What relevance has that got to do with anything? Who cares about her vanity unless that can be turned into justification for her to hijack Aware just so that their literature can continue to charm her!!!!

    Lastly, what is Dr Thio’s view on repeated adultery committed albeit with a heterosexual partner? I am sure she has experience with that given her age and experience both at family and church level. Is this adultery condoned in both her books and her God’s over true love and affection between two people of the same sex?

    In my books, this self-proclaimed mentor is nothing but a bigot and giving Christians a bad bad name just like the terrorists are to the Muslims.

  24. dc Says:

    camil Says:

    “May 6, 2009 at 3:56 am In my books, this self-proclaimed mentor is nothing but a bigot and giving Christians a bad bad name just like the terrorists are to the Muslims.”

    Well said. Technically, these religion fundamentalists are not very much different from terrorists

  25. H Says:

    it’s hilarious. you are now one of my fave bloggers. your pieces are brilliant.

  26. Zac Says:

    lol. do the page73 thio-su mien game.

    pick a random book and flip to page 73, and replace a random word with “Thio Su Mien”.

  27. Catherine Says:

    I’ve been a fan of your blogs and have recommended you to a few friends. However, I have to take issues with your commentary on the Aware EGM.
    It suffers from shallowness and the same intolerance you accuse Thio Su Mien and her churchmates of. First, your assertion to leave private morality at home. Well, how come TSM and her gang should do that and not the Aware trainers? They represent different value systems but by your arguments, theirs should be kept at home but Aware trainers’ values should be taught in schools to kids as young as 12-year olds, against the wishes of most parents. Let’s face it. This is a competition for values. Either yours or theirs will be promoted. By all means, disagree and defend your own values. But do so graciously without resorting to personal insults – psycho, Nutty professor, delusions to grandeur . Name calling does not strengthen your arguments. Sure, the Old Guards consulted everyone including religious leaders on the CSE but did they show them the P&C trainers guide, the parts that are now getting many parents up in arms? What difference does it made that these notes were not given to the students? This is worse. They taught them these negative values and then don’t leave the evidence behind. No wonder there were no complaints from parents until now! And do be fair. Pastor Derek Hong (Pastor DumbNuts to you because you can’t help but insult people you disagree with) was not drawing a line in the sand for Buddhists etc. How could he when his message was addressed to his congregation? You knew that surely. So why do you make such a misleading statement? Be fair to those who disagree with you because that is what you expect of them.

  28. MIlton Tan Says:

    Your argument is shallow. If religious morality were kept at home, many of the great institutions that we have today – schools, hospitals, courts of law, Parliament – would not have been built. The Judeo-Christian idea of man being created in the image of God and therefore to be accorded worth and dignity, is the basis for human rights, including the rights you have exercised to demonise Thio Su Mien and Pastor Derek Hong for holding values contrary to yours.

    • groundnotes Says:

      schools and hospitals, perhaps. but not court of law (many of our laws are christian-based because of our colonial heritage but today this has been responsible for more anachronism than progress). and if we’re all created in God’s image, then homosexuality must be natural and TSM and DH were unchristian for likening them to thieves and abused people. Besides, you can practice religious ethics in public sans the moralism.

  29. Sheik Says:

    One of the best pieces I have read in awhile..Bravo!

  30. Andy Says:


  31. NIcholas Chan Says:

    Truly well written! This blog has the … pardon the vernacular… “balls” to put a non-diplomatic critique to the entire affair…

  32. mary Says:

    God is not about fear and hate, but about love and grace.
    And most modern political/social institutions are founded on the Judeo-Christian right of the primary right to life and all that it entails (e.g. food, shelter, etc.), followed by secondary rights (education, freedom of expression, etc.), tertiary rights, and so on. But the point is that this simple fact predisposes an inability for total secularism–instead we should aim, to quote Al Gore, to become “a rich marketplace of ideas”. And not just Christian ideas…

  33. murli Says:

    hilarious. going through all your old posts one by one now as you can see.

    btw, on the point about christians as a percentage of the country’s population, according to the cia factbook, not just buddhists but even muslims and the non-religious outnumber the cross-bearers! though of course, this has probably changed in some way since the last census. and of those 14.x% who are christians, 4.8% are catholics- these days, surprisingly, many catholics are actually much less vehemently religious and more open-minded than one might normally think. i for one was definitely surprised when i explored this!

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