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KUCHING, Oct 26: Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) president Lina Soo has slammed Youth and Sports Minister Dato Sri Ahmad Faizal Azumu for ridiculing the efforts of national diver Datuk Pandelela Rinong for speaking up over alleged bullying by her former coach.
Describing Ahmad Faizal’s reaction as most appalling and unbecoming, Soo reminded the Minister that “an offence is an offence, today or seven years ago.”
“Is Pandelela to be blamed because she only spoke up now and not seven years ago?
“Instead of launching an investigation as any righteous Minister would do and bringing offenders to book, the Minister has ridiculed the efforts of women to make them become the accused and offender instead of the victim.
“Yet in a contradictory pitch, he also mentioned that lewd and dirty jokes will not be tolerated and encouraged athletes not to remain silent over sexual harassment because he will oppose such behaviour,” she said in a statement today.
Ahmad Faiza received brickbats from various quarters today over his remarks questioning Pandelela’s motives in bringing up an “old story” about her former coach which he had clarified in Parliament that it was taken out of context by the media.
Soo thus urged Ahmad Faizal to explain to the public on what steps have the Ministry of Youth and Sports taken to investigate the sexual harassment offence.
“What is the grievance procedure in the Ministry for any potential victim of sexual harassment so that women are protected under his jurisdiction?” she asked.
Considering the influence government officials have over athletes, Soo commended Pandelela for her bravery to openly share her experience of sexual harassment today.
“Pandelela is our heroine and role model. Her actions raises awareness and gives support to other victims to come forward so that in future, other women will be spared the ordeal they have suffered.
“The Minister’s remark at an official function speaks of sexist chauvinism to undermine Pandelela’s efforts and her credibility, and any woman finds this deplorable and unforgivable.
“There must be zero tolerance for sexual harassment, whether in the field of sports or in the office,” she emphasised. — DayakDaily