In late October 2009, the Head of Women Affairs at The People’s Association, Ms Florence Kang, touched base with Mr Loh Hoon Sun, President of AAS, on the possibility of AAS organising for its members a Dialogue with the Women MPs. The Dialogue was held on 2 February 2010
We started preparing earnestly in December 2009. However, response was poor due to the school holidays and festive seasons. The momentum picked up in January 2010 where we reached our target number of 30 participants. Although the Dialogue was supposed to be an all-women’s affair, the male committee members of AAS were also invited to join in so that their views could be heard.
The Dialogue started at 7.15pm when buffet dinner was served. The committee members mingled with the participants to know them better and to get their feedback on what they expect of AAS. At 7.45pm, Mr Loh, Ms Florence Kang and the committee members welcomed the arrival of Er Lee Bee Wah, an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, who joined us for dinner. Shortly after Er Lee’s arrival, Ms Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Education, arrived. She was also warmly received by the group. The AAS team, led by Mr Loh, held a brief discussion with both Ms Grace Fu and Er Lee Bee Wah before the Dialogue commenced.
At 8.00pm, the Dialogue began. After a short introduction by Associate Professor Margaret Tan who was the Moderator for the night and Chairman, Website Committee of AAS, on the protocol of the Dialogue, Ms Grace Fu took to the floor. She introduced herself and disclosed why the PAP Women’s Wing wanted to have a Dialogue with Australian women graduates. The PAP Women’s Wing wanted to reach out to as many women groups as possible so that they could hear the views from the women on all kinds of issues pertaining to them.
When it was question time, Mr Loh started the ball rolling by asking the first question. Thereafter, question after question followed ranging from women to national issues. Ms Grace Fu and Er Lee took the questions in their stride and took the opportunity to explain some of the government policies. It was a light-hearted session peppered by laughter.
The Dialogue session ended at 9.45pm. Everyone agreed that it was an engaging session among the participants with the two women MPs.
Report by Ms Christina Tan, Asst Treasurer, AAS