An Open Letter to Our Members – Chronology of Events from 2009 – 2013

Despite issuing our standard response statement in the face of attacks on our organisation, which we had hoped would clarify the matter; the attacks on AWAM have not only continued but have also intensified. Based on this, we are now issuing a timeline or chronology of events for our members and supporters to clearly appreciate and understand the sequence of events and AWAM’s position and actions.

Date

Event

8 April 2009 The alleged incident was said to have happened around 7.30pm during a dinner amongst friends at a seafood restaurant in Bangsar Village.
24 April 2010 A year after the alleged incident, the matter was for the first time officially brought to the attention of AWAM by way of an e-mail from the Complainant alleging that an incident which she found offensive had occurred in the course of a private dinner between her and a member of AWAM. This member was not an office-bearer of AWAM at that time. Despite the fact that the alleged incident took place outside of AWAM; that the matter essentially involved two friends who were engaged in a private/personal discussion at the time; and that the Complainant was not a member of AWAM, when approached, AWAM helped to look into the matter in good faith and reached out to both parties to mediate the incident through an internal inquiry by a Committee which heard them out.
After speaking to the Complainant and the member, the Committee’s view was that the incident complained of was inappropriate behaviour on the part of the member.
1 July 2010 The Committee explained its views to the Complainant in a meeting that lasted for one and a half hours.
11 July 2010 The Complainant acknowledged and signed off on the views of the Committee. A letter was then issued by AWAM to the member complained against and the matter was deemed closed.
13 March 2012 In preparation for its AGM, AWAM released the list of nominees for office bearers proposed and seconded by AWAM members for the election of office bearers for the year 2012 – 2014. The member was nominated by AWAM members in accordance with the provisions of AWAM’s constitution for the post of Honorary Treasurer.
24 March 2012 At the Annual General Meeting of AWAM, the member was duly elected by the voting members present to the position of Honorary Treasurer for 2012 – 2014. The Nominations and the Elections was conducted in accordance with the provisions of AWAM’s Constitution. This included circulating a notice beforehand informing all members of nominations for election. No objection was received after the issuance of the notice in respect of the nomination of the member. The list of nominees was also posted up and read aloud at the AGM. Again there were no objections raised on the election of the member and she was duly elected as an office bearer of AWAM.
27 March 2012 AWAM received an e-mail from the Complainant registering her disappointment in the election of the member. AWAM acknowledged receipt of the Complainants e-mail and an attempt was made to have a face-to-face meeting with the Complainant who was not available at the current time.
29 March 2012 Inquiries were received from certain quarters including journalists and individuals in respect of the election of the member complained against.
30 March 2012 Complainant and her associate inserted postings on AWAM’s Facebook page questioning the election of the member complained against and insinuating that there was no transparency in AWAM and that AWAM’s silence will not protect AWAM.
30 March 2012 The member complained against approached the Executive Council of AWAM and offered to step down from the position of Honorary Treasurer on account of the negative Facebook postings against AWAM and her election as an office bearer. The ExCo of AWAM advised the member complained against to reconsider as she was duly elected in accordance with AWAM’s constitution. AWAM has followed due process in the election of office bearers at the AGM.  The nomination of office bearers is not determined or dictated by AWAM and is the process of a democratic right of choice of AWAM Members in accordance with AWAM’s constitution. Furthermore, the nominations for office bearers  was subject to official election by voting members present at AWAM’s AGM on 24 March 2012 where any oppositions to the election of the office bearers could be voiced and heard.AWAM’s Constitution does not permit AWAM to reject any nomination received in accordance with the provisions and neither does it give any right to AWAM to campaign for or against any nominationAs the election of the member complained against was proper and in accordance with AWAM’s constitution, AWAM advised the member that she should not feel obliged to step down as the accusations in respect of her appointment were baseless.Acceding to the demands of the disgruntled group would be going against the free choice made by AWAM members and not respecting AWAM’s constitution.
1 – 18 April 2012 The Complainant and her associates continued to insert postings in AWAM’s Facebook page in respect of the election of the member as an office bearer and also questioned the credibility of AWAM as a feminist organisation and its commitment to fight Sexual Harassment. AWAM issued statements clarifying the situation and reaffirming its policies in respect of its role as a feminist organisation. The Complainant and her associates however persisted in continuing to hurl accusations and making unjustified comments.
18 April 2012 Acting on the advice of its legal advisors that AWAM is legally accountable for the content of its Facebook page and that the escalation of the accusations being made in the Facebook page may expose AWAM to legal sanctions, AWAM decided to delete all postings related to the matter in its Facebook page.
April – August 2012 The Complainant and her associates were not happy and started a campaign of attacks against AWAM which included:1. The setting up of alternative Facebook pages to pursue discussion on the matter.

2. Inserting postings on the Facebook pages of sister organizations as well as making appearances at public functions organized by the sister organizations and demanding to speak on the matter.

3. Writing to a funder of AWAM complaining and making accusations against AWAM. The funder after hearing AWAM out responded to the Complainant and voiced their support of AWAM – ‘We hold our partner in Malaysia in high regard and up until this point have had no reason to doubt the high integrity of the organization.’

The Complainant was not happy with this response and inserted postings on the funders Facebook page publicly criticising the funder for standing by AWAM.

13 August 2012 A senior officer of a sister organization wrote to the Complainant offering to mediate and have a meeting with the complainant to hear her grievances against AWAM. The complainant replied declining to meet the senior officer and stating that she wants to continue her campaign against AWAM and also JAG for supporting AWAM.
29 August 2012 AWAM called for a meeting of AWAM members to discuss and clarify the matter and the actions taken by AWAM. The members in attendance were in agreement and fully supported the stand and action taken by AWAM.
2 September 2012 An article appeared in a prominent English daily implying improper handling of the matter by AWAM and also critical of the actions of JAG in the matter by name. An official letter of complaint was issued to the English daily and an apology to JAG was published.
5 Oct 2012 The Complainant continued to target organisations that AWAM chose to work with, including writing to a prominent organisation that decided to partner with AWAM on several projects.
Oct 2012 – March 2013 The Complainant and her associates intensified the attacks on AWAM through the media as well as sending a series of e-mails to AWAM’s partners and sister organisations aimed at pressuring the organisations to withdraw their support of AWAM.
6 February 2013 AWAM posted its Standard Response Statement on its website to clarify the issue.
8 March 2013 The Complainant and her associates launched the Hold AWAM Accountable (HAA) blog.
8 March 2013 The Complainant and associates showed up at AWAM’s International Women’s Day event. They proceeded to raise their grievances during the Q and A session of the programme. Attempts were made to answer their questions but the complainant was not ready to hear AWAM out. The Complainant and her associates left the event once members of the audience made it clear that they didn’t agree to the raising of their personal grievances at an event such as this.
8 March 2013 till to date The Complainant and her associates continue with the onslaught against AWAM and have intensified their efforts. They have also begun to be critical of any organization that is seen by them to be supportive of AWAM. Despite numerous attempts to clarify the matter the Complainant and her associates remain adamant and the attacks continue.

 

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