Pandelela backs Ahmad Faizal after latter cops flak for allegedly downplaying sexual harassment claims

Youth and Sports minister Datuk Seri Faizal Azumu speaks during a media conference at Wisma OCM in Kuala Lumpur September 14,2021. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Youth and Sports minister Datuk Seri Faizal Azumu speaks during a media conference at Wisma OCM in Kuala Lumpur September 14,2021. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUCHING, Oct 27 — National diving queen Datuk Pandelela Rinong has backed the explanation by Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu that his remarks at a press conference on Monday, in which he allegedly downplayed her sexual harassment revelation, had been taken out of context by the media.

In a reply to Ahmad Faizal’s tweet yesterday, she said she now understood the whole scenario after watching the video of the minister’s press conference when the media asked him to comment on her Oct 21 revelation.

“It’s okay YB, I understand the whole scenario now after watching this video (of the press conference). The male reporter who questioned you raised some red flags though,” she said in a tweet.

Pandelela had earlier also tweeted her appreciation to Ahmad Faizal for his willingness to listen and probe the matter.

“I sincerely welcome YB (Ahmad Faizal) to @KBSMalaysia. Thank you for listening and willing to find out, hopefully YB can help to support Malaysia Diving Team to be better in the future,” she said.

Ahmad Faizal in his tweet said he had never questioned Pandelela’s revelation, and that he had told the press conference on Monday that he wanted to find out more about what had happened.

“This is a very serious matter, we must ensure a safe environment for our athletes at all levels. Lela I’m with you,” he said in his tweet.

News portal Free Malaysia Today had reported Ahmad Faizal as purportedly downplaying Pandelela’s sexual harassment revelation during the press conference, by questioning why the national diving queen had only brought up the issue via social media now after the incidents happened a long time ago.

“I am trying to understand why after a long time, Lela wants to put this out in the social media,” he was quoted as saying in the report.

Following public backlash, Ahmad Faizal told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday morning that what he said at the press conference had been taken out of context by the media.

He said he had already been in touch with several people regarding the incidents, adding he will be meeting with his predecessor Khairy Jamaluddin to discuss the incidents further.

“Of course, the government views the matter seriously, what more if acts beyond sexual harassment had indeed taken place, which were perpetrated by coaches or sport officers.

“And what I said in a press conference yesterday (Monday), that we have to obtain a full and detailed explanation from Datuk Pandelela herself and those allegedly involved in the acts, may have been taken out of context by the media,” he said.

Last week, Pandelela took to Twitter to reveal that she was once bullied by a former coach after chiding him for making lewd jokes.

In a series of tweets, Pandelela shared she could only keep quiet then because she feared him.

“At one particular time, I had a coach who liked to make lewd jokes. I was always silent and didn’t even try to fake a laugh as I was afraid of him.

“Once, I did confront him to stop as I couldn’t stand it anymore but in return I was bullied. Seven years later, he committed a rape,” she said in a tweet. — Borneo Post

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