The recent change in leadership in AWARE (Association of Women for Research and Education) has raised issues of concern. The old leadership, comprising of volunteers who has worked for many years to build up the values and stature of the organisation was unexpected toppled by a group of new members who voted in a new committee at the annual general meeting.
To my collection, this type of unplanned leadership change has occurred in some other organisations in the past. The new leadership represent the views of a small group of people who attended the annual general meeting, and does not reflect the membership at large.
What can be done to preserve the democratic nature of an organisation and ensure that the elected leaders reflect the values of the membership?
Here are a few possible approaches:
1. Nominations for elected office should be submitted at least 14 days in advance of the general meeting. The nominees should be required to submit a statement to show their background and their plans for the organisation.
2. Voting should be allowed for all members, rather than those who attend the general meeting. With today's technology, it should be quite easy to vote through the internet. Those who attend the meeting can vote on the spot.
Many organisations in Singapore are weak. People are not prepared to serve in the committee. Each general meeting see the return of a few of the well known figures. Occasionally, an upset election results create big news.
We have to address these long standing problems. It is time for us to build stronger democratic institutions in Singapore.
Tan Kin Lian
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