Dr Thio Siew Mien is a spunky 71-year-old lawyer.
The first woman dean of the Law Faculty at the then-University of Singapore, from 1969 to 1971, she is also the mother of Nominated Member of Parliament Professor Thio Li-ann and her nephew, Dr Alan Chin, is married to new AWARE president Josie Lau.
From a front page report in yesterday’s Straits Times, it has emerged that Thio is the éminence grise behind the new AWARE.
Ah, the plot thickens.
On Thursday she explained that her concern about the direction that AWARE was taking was partly prompted by a letter from a parent who was concerned that the society was promoting a homosexual agenda.
He wrote to TODAY in 2007 to ask why AWARE’s choice of a movie for a charity show was Spider Lilies, about two lesbians who fall in love.
Thio said she went on to discover that in AWARE’s comprehensive sexuality education program, which is taken to schools, homosexuality is regarded as a neutral word, not a negative word.
“I started thinking, ‘Hey, parents, you better know what’s happening,’” she said.
“I talked to parents. I said: You better do something about this; otherwise your daughter will come back and say, ‘Mum, I want to marry my girlfriend.’
“Or your son will say: ‘Dad, I want to marry my boyfriend.’”
These parents were flabbergasted, she said, adding that such sexuality education was taking place in the United States and Europe and was not new.
“What is happening in society is that we are redefining marriage, we are redefining families,” she said.
“So I’m a concerned citizen and if people are so ignorant, I think I want to teach them.”
Pointing out that AWARE’s program was already in 30 schools, she said: “The suggestion is that in this program, young girls from 12 to 18 are taught that it’s okay to experiment with each other.
“And this is something which should concern parents in Singapore. Are we going to have an entire generation of lesbians?”
Insisting that she was not anti-homosexual, she said: “I have nothing against lesbians or homosexuals personally. On a personal front, I’ve ministered, I’ve counseled them.
“They are in pain. And very often from families where you have abusive fathers, they do things with their daughters and the daughters revolt, rebel against society.
“We understand this is what it’s all about.”
Thio said that AWARE was formed 26 years ago by her contemporaries and friends, and had done great work in many areas.
But she noted that its membership had dropped from about 700 in 1998 to around 200 in 2006.
She was dismayed that at the annual general meeting in 2008, there was a move to give men the right to vote “in a women’s organization where the objective is to represent all the women of Singapore.”
Only 25 people attended that AGM. The motion was defeated, but reappeared on the agenda at the AGM last month.
She then started looking into the affairs of AWARE to see what was going on at the organization set up by her friends.
She said that there were many women’s issues that needed to be looked into, and cited the need to ensure that retrenched women are dealt with fairly.
“I find to my dismay that AWARE seems to be only very interested in lesbianism and the advancement of homosexuality, which is a man’s issue,” she said.
She felt this matter had to be discussed, but AWARE should focus on going back to look after all women in Singapore.
“Can we re-focus on the excellent objectives of AWARE? Go back to its original purpose for it being an NGO?” she asked.
Thio is not the only prominent woman embroiled in the gay rights controversy recently.
Last week, Miss California, Carrie Prejean, was asked a question by the Miss USA pageant judge Perez Hilton, who is an openly homosexual gossip blogger. Her answer is believed to have caused her to become a runner-up instead of being the winner. In the final round of the competition, Hilton asked Prejean “Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?”
She replied “I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and my family I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anyone out there, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman.”
Prejean told Fox News that she is happy to continue standing by her answer, a statement she repeated when she was interviewed by Billy Bush, who co-hosted the pageant, on Monday morning.
“It did cost me my crown,” Prejean told Bush, “I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I said what I feel. I stated an opinion that was true to myself and that’s all I can do.”
“It is a very touchy subject,” she continued, “and he is a homosexual and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would’ve wanted me to be more politically correct. But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything.”
“I feel like I won. I feel like I’m the winner. I really do,” Prejean declared.