updated 20 May 2009, 02:56
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Wed, May 20, 2009
The Straits Times
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The big turnout: Women came early, stayed until night

JUST before registration opened at noon on Saturday, the queue of women wanting to attend the Aware EGM stretched across two floors of the cavernous Suntec Convention Centre.

The first had arrived in the morning, even though the meeting was supposed to start at 2pm.

The afternoon started on a convivial note with volunteers supporting the old Aware donning white T-shirts and handing out flowers, stickers, badges and water to supporters in the line.

There with a big basket of flowers was Mr Bryan Wong, 31, a stocky events manager, who felt that what had happened to Aware was unfair.

As a male member, he could not vote, but he was pitching in to help in any way. 'Sorry, the carnations are gone,' he said.

Volunteers were also seen escorting the octogenarian grand old dames of Aware - social work lecturer Ann Wee; Mrs Jean Marshall, wife of the the late chief minister David Marshall; and former library chief Hedwig Anuar.

The turnout - estimated at 3,000 - was the result of campaigning by both sides in the Aware saga.

But queue-time conviviality quickly gave way to frayed emotions once proceedings began.

Ms Josie Lau and her six remaining exco members took the stage and began authoritatively, ordering Nominated MP Siew Kum Hong to sit in the men's corner and threatening noisy hecklers that they would be removed.

Over the hours that followed, the supporters of the old guard lined up for their turn at the microphones, told off the exco in no uncertain terms, and did not mince their words about wanting the exco to go.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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