Dr Yii slams sports minister for ‘horrible’ reaction to Pandelela’s sexual harassment allegation

Dr Kelvin Yii

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KUCHING, Oct 26: “Horrible” is how Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii described Youth and Sports Minister Dato Sri Ahmad Faizal Azumu’s reaction towards Olympian and national diver Datuk Pandelela Rinong’s recent revelations about alleged sexual harassment by her former coach.

Dr Yii of Democratic Action Party (DAP) said instead of questioning why Pandelela raised the allegations now, the minister should be asking “who else may have experienced such harassment but may have decided against speaking up because of fear or any other factors”.

“… he (Ahmad Faizal) should be defending and commending her for speaking up, and make sure it does not happen to any other athletes as well.

“Victims of sexual harassment are often traumatised for many years, some a lifetime.

“That’s why I applaud her courage for speaking up even knowing that she will face judgement and pressure for doing so,” he said in a statement today.

Dr Yii expressed grave disappointment towards the ministry for failing to assure the safety of Malaysia’s young athletes, including towards Ahmad Faizal for failing to see and address the issue from the right perspective.

“He should order an investigation into the situation at the ministry’s training centres to give assurances to the public, especially parents whose children are under training that no similar incident will happen again,” he stressed.

The government, particularly the Ministry of Youth and Sports, he emphasised, should nurture athletes in a safe environment and prevent them from having to experience physical and mental abuse which will directly impact their performance in the field.

“There is no room for harassment, sexism or discrimination in sports,” he added.

Despite Ahmad Faizal’s clarification that his remarks were taken out of context by the media, Dr Yii said this must serve as a lesson that such issues should not be taken lightly or even swept under the carpet.

“We must empower the victims rather than question their motives and then do proper investigation to make sure it does not happen again,” he added.

Speaking in Parliament today, Ahmad Faizal blamed the media for taking his remarks out of context. A news portal reported the minister had appeared to question why Pandelela only wanted to reveal her experience involving her former coach now when it happened many years ago.

The minister assured the House that the government is taking this matter seriously especially since it involves national athletes and their coaches.

He also said that he will meet Pandelela to get a thorough explanation on the issue before taking further action. — DayakDaily