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KUCHING, Oct 26: Social activist Peter John Jaban has slammed Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu for questioning Sarawak-born national diver Datuk Pandelela Rinong’s move to raise allegations of sexual harassment after the incident happened “long ago”.
Peter, who is also the founder of Saya Anak Sarawak (SAS), described the minister’s statement as “disgraceful” and called for the latter’s immediate resignation for “being unfit to take care of the next generation’s young athletes”.
“This is victim-shaming at its worst. With a Sports minister with such an openly archaic attitude to this issue, is it any wonder that Pandelela chose to stay silent all these years?
“It is a sad comment on the toxic culture that clearly prevails in our sporting scene and society when a male coach is licensed to continue making lewd jokes, to the point that he is so emboldened by the lack of action that he proceeds to rape a young girl supposedly in his care.
“Is it any wonder that Pandelela didn’t come forward until she had reached her current level of status, when she was subjected to bullying for standing up for herself?
“Faizal asks sportspeople to speak up and then goes after them when they do. Even someone with his lack of analysis and understanding should be able to see the irony in that,” he said in a statement today.
Peter further said the coaches and the Ministry have a duty of care to make sure that the athletes are protected and the last thing they should be doing is attacking the person who has managed to rise to sporting excellence in spite of the intolerable conditions she was clearly forced to train under.
“Ahmad Faizal should resign immediately. Perhaps Dato Pandelela should take his place. She at least understands what it means to stand up for other athletes that come after her,” he added.
He also warns that if Faizal’s attitude reflects the Ministry, parents might think twice in the future about allowing their children to enter the sports arena.
“He should be thanking Datuk Pandelela not just for raising the (sexual harassment) issue but also for raising the nation to sporting glory and making his Ministry worthwhile. At the very least, he owes her a personal apology. He should be ashamed of himself,” he added.
Pandelela had claimed on Twitter recently that she had to endure sexual jokes from one of her coaches for seven years, adding that he was later charged with the rape of another athlete.
In response to this, News portal FMT yesterday reported that Faizal during an official event in Selangor said, “I am trying to understand why after a long time, Lela (Pandelela) wants to put this out in the social media”.
He further urged national athletes to speak up on any form of sexual harassment by reporting them to their parents or authorities. — DayakDaily