May 05, 2009

020509 calm before the storm

12:32 made it up to level 4, queue for existing members kept growing on level 3...


...even though the queue moved pretty quickly:


Incredible how quiet & orderly a queue can be in Singapore - all kept in line as the queue zigzagged in the space on the left on level 4:


Registration was a breeze as all it took for existing members was to have our NRICs scanned, & sign in...the speed & ease at which so much of our info & particulars can be captured & accessed was a little unnerving. 50min after the first photo was taken, when the cat had finished registering + having its bag checked by security + finding a seat inside the hall, the queue at level 3 was still growing:


Quite a few guys couldn't believe their eyes. One of them shouted at us, 'Ladies, there is NO sale!' Guess he has never met females like the cat who are homozygous recessive for the shopping phenotype. About 3 female PRC employees of a Chinese restaurant, armed with laminated menus, took advantage of the captive audience & tried approaching people in the queue to advertise their restaurant. Their presence highlighted to the cat how for once, it was standing in a crowd that was overwhelmingly majority Singaporean, something it rarely experiences nowadays (but nope, the cat has no interest in joining SAF for the chance to experience this).

Knowing women well, the pro-old guard team was prepared for the fact that some who want to stand up & be counted might be intimidated by the prospect of being surrounded by people from the other camp...especially when quite a few of the pro-old guard supporters would be turning up alone, united by a common cause...instead of being ferried in by the busload, directed by a common instruction (as the pro-new exco camp was alleged to be planning to do). Hence volunteer ushers wearing We Are AWARE T-shirts to identify themselves, so that old guard supporters could approach them & be introduced to fellow likeminded lone rangers, & the We Are AWARE handouts, badges & flowers that allowed those sharing a common purpose to identify one another & sit together. Like MUI, the cat didn't pick up any - it had already read the PDF version of the handouts online, better to spare one set of stuff for others in case there weren't enough to go around. Mass SMSes were also sent to those who'd registered their mobile phone numbers with We Are AWARE, to welcome us to the EGM, clarify which voting forms to fill out (two of the five were not used), & remind us to keep calm when things got heated up.

We Are AWARE sign from the handouts (many who didn't get one earlier hunted around the empty seats post-EGM & karang guni-ed the few we could find as souvenirs), PDF printout of EGM info from the We Are AWARE site, & unused voting slip (this item was scrapped from the agenda):


Some of the pro-old guard We Are AWARE team:


Many men (four in above photo) of all races volunteered for their cause as ushers & runners, directing people to the correct queues, answering queries, distributing info, badges, flowers, water, sandwiches & curry puffs, relaying messages to people at the back of the queue about the voting slips that they had to collect, etc. Mark Goh & NMP Siew Kum Hong helped out as legal counsels for the old guard (pro bono - much cheaper than Rajah & Tann).

There were also guys joining as associate members, encouraging their women partners & friends to join, turn up & vote, publicising the issue on blogs & facebook, raising questions for the new exco, speaking in support of the old AWARE's programmes, helping to cover the event by camera & video, updating the outside world via SMS/twitter/live-blogging/etc when the press was shut out by the new exco, keeping friends & partners company in the queue, & helping them get food & drink when they had to spend lunchtime queueing & the EGM lasted way past dinnertime till ~21:30. Many more men & women helped behind the scenes by taking care of things at home/work for those who'd turned up to vote, driving them to & from the venue, & keeping those within the hall updated on what the press was reporting to the outside world.

First time experiencing such segregation, thanks to arrangements made by the new exco - life/ordinary members-only section with nicer chairs & projector screens:


Associate members (all male + non-citizen/PR female + below 18 y/o members) section with plastic chairs:


Says something about the new exco's interpretation of the term equality. People like them give feminism a bad name. If you think yourself equal to men, treat them equally - give them nicer chairs too ;) Plus projector screens - associate members (both men & women) should be able to follow the entire proceedings too.

Before the new exco would allow the EGM to begin, they ordered all guys out of the 'nice chairs' section...thought gender segregation in secular space happened only in places like public toilets & females-only train carriages in Japanese subways? If all voting could only be conducted by secret ballot as the new exco insisted, & not by a show of hands, why shouldn't associate members be allowed to sit together with ordinary members? As pointed out when the new exco tried to evict NMP Siew from the 'nice chairs' area, in past AGMs everyone was seated together. Strangely, a few seats away from the cat in the 'nice chairs' section, a guy associate member & supporter of the new exco was somehow allowed to stay put throughout. As noted by misshallelujah, one of the first things the old guard did after the new exco left was to invite all from the plastic chairs section to join everyone else in the 'nice chairs' section.

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