Desmond Choo nominated for Alamak award

From ‘Aware to give our award for sexism’, 25 Sept 2011, article by Jamie Ee Wen Wei, Sunday Times

It’s not an award to crow about. But Hougang grassroots adviser Desmond Choo looks set to clinch what is believed to be the country’s first sexism award, in ‘honour’ of a person or organisation that has done the greatest disservice to gender equality.

The award is the tongue-in-cheek brainchild of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), which will dish it out on Oct 17 during its fundraising dinner at the Grand Hyatt Hotel to celebrate its 26th anniversary

…The sexism award, called the Alamak Award, has five nominees. Nominations were made by the public on Aware’s website over a six-week period that started last month.

Mr Choo, 33, who was the People’s Action Party’s candidate in Hougang in the May General Election, was criticised for being sexist when he made his maiden rally speech. During that speech, he recounted a meeting with an elderly Hougang resident who told him that choosing an MP is like choosing a wife.

‘If your wife is unable to cook, there’s no point. You must choose a wife who is able to look after you and do things for you,’ Mr Choo had said in recounting what the elderly man told him.

Besides Mr Choo, four organisations made the list. They are: the Singapore Obedient Wives Club; Singapore Airlines; the Singapore Armed Forces; and insurance company Great Eastern.

The ‘winner’ will be decided by an online vote, which started last Tuesday. It will end on Oct 7. Close to 60 per cent of the 600 votes cast have gone to Mr Choo. The Obedient Wives Club is second, with 33 per cent of the votes.

I Choo-Choo-Choose You

There’s nothing tongue-in-cheek about this award, unlike the much feted ‘Razzies’, a satirical spin-off  of the Oscars; it’s more like stiletto-in-crotch. This isn’t a Worst Dressed List, which ‘winners’ can simply ignore. The ‘Alamak’ award is an accusation and potentially damaging to one’s reputation, and you can’t attend it just to be a ‘sport’ unless you are a glutton for humiliation. Before tossing it around to random voters to take potshots, it’s only fair that AWARE chooses its nominees carefully in order to minimise bias. So it’s no surprise that Desmond Choo, recently blasted for being embroiled in the PA fiasco and being the only PAP nominee, or INDIVIDUAL, in the list, is in the lead considering that ‘how sexist you are’ is determined by anonymous voters clicking a button in a poll. Not only will he secure the votes of disgruntled housewives but both sexes of the anti-PAP camp as well.

Here’s a look at the other AWARE nominees to see why Desmond Choo will score a landslide victory, unlike the outcome of his Hougang campaign.

1) Obedient Wives Club

2) SAF ‘Our Army, My Boyfriend’ ad

3) Singapore Airlines employment policies

4) Great Eastern ‘It’s Great to be a Woman’ ad

It’s worth noting that AWARE labels this as ‘Who scored the biggest FAIL in 2011’,  which is the sort of language gossipy teenagers use to describe celebrity fashion disasters. The remainder of the list suffers from the ‘dilution of responsibility’ effect. I mean, who’s going to accept the award for SAF if they did win? Desmond is seriously outplayed here only because he’s a public figure, when the people directly accountable for the sexist ads (scriptwriter, marketing director?) were spared from embarrassment. Why wasn’t he put under the umbrella term ‘PAP’, which by the way, has a cabinet made up COMPLETELY of males (much to AWARE’s disappointment), or perhaps Desmond is just the unlucky scapegoat cum whipping boy for AWARE’s general dissatisfaction with the dearth of female representation in Government?

But hold your horses, ladies. Does Desmond even deserve being labelled as sexist here? According to the article he was RELATING what an old Hougang resident told him. It’s not clear if Desmond actually agrees with the analogy, so why didn’t AWARE drag the resident into the list as well, just because he’s an old anonymous fogey who can say whatever he wants? Like most GE analogies, this one is flawed anyway. Unlike a wife, you don’t have to LOVE your MP, and it’s easier to ‘divorce’ your MP every 5 years if you feel like it. The point both parties were trying to make here is not that ‘women should all be Nigella Lawsons’, but that MPs must have the necessary  ‘skills’ to run a GRC before you ‘marry’ them. Using a sexist analogy for political gain just isn’t the same as actually ‘advocating’ that women pamper their husbands with sex, which was what the OWC set out to do. Call him insensitive all you want, but to plant a trophy on his head  without digging deeper is unnecessary, frivolous, in bad taste, but more importantly, it’s not even funny.

Though I agree with the choices for SAF and the OWC, here are some more deserving nominees  for 2011 than those shortlisted by AWARE.

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2 Responses

  1. […] Disclosure – Everything Also Complain: Desmond Choo nominated for Alamak award – I’m Getting Personal…: Reunification: Msia-S’pore – The Kent Ridge Common: On […]

  2. yeah what u say about them souding like juvenile gossiping is right.expected more professional activities from a major organisation.and is that really sexism or oversensitivity,with the MP?even with the great eastern ad,are they fighting against the unfair remarks against the males,or are they still just more concerned with saving their own pride?intention matters as well as target

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