I Spoke Up Now Because Victims Of Abuse Never Forget, Pandelela Says After Sport Minister Downplayed The Issue

National diving champion Pandelela Rinong said she spoke up against rape jokes and her experience of sexual harassment involving her former coach to raise awaraness and to offer support for other victims to come forward.

Pandelela said she wanted to encourage future victims to speak up, “hoping to encourage (them) to be brave when I wasn’t”.

“I shared my ‘not so nice’ experience to give awareness to the public, and support for victims out there, who are always in a dilemma, whether to speak up or stay silent,” she said in a tweet last night.

“Most importantly, enablers and their backups shouldn’t be glamorised. Others may forget, but not the victim,” she said.

Her tweet came just hours after youth and sports minister Ahmad Faizal Azumu questioned her move to raise allegations of sexual harassment by her former coach now as, he said, the incidents happened “long ago”.

“I am trying to understand why after a long time, Lela (Pandelela) wants to put this out in the social media,” Faizal said.

Pandelela had claimed on Twitter recently that she had to endure a torrent of sexual jokes from one of her coaches for seven years.

She decided to go public on the matter after the story of an actor who had glorified an unaired rape scene on a TV station went viral.

In detailing her torment, she said she told off the coach but he retaliated by “bullying” her, adding that he was later charged with the rape of another athlete.

“My teammates and I could not do anything about his harassment because he was backed by our head coach then,” she had tweeted.

“The moral of the story is we need a good leader who can right what’s wrong instead of turning a blind eye to evil. And those abused must speak up please! Small voices still matter if we are united.”

Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu has downplayed Olympian diver Pandelela Rinong’s revelation of alleged sexual harassment by one of her former coaches yesterday.

In a report by Free Malaysia Today (FMT), the minister had instead questioned why Pandelela only brought the issue via social media to light now as the incidents happened “long ago”.

“I am trying to understand why after a long time, Lela wants to put this out in the social media,” he told reporters at an official event, referring to Pandelela.

Faizal said that he has already been in touch with several people regarding the incidents, adding that he will be sitting down with then youth and sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin to discuss the incidents further.

He also urged national athletes to speak up on any forms of sexual harassment by alerting them to their parents or the authorities.

“We cannot accept lewd or dirty jokes as it is tantamount to harassment. Don’t choose to remain silent because we must fight such actions,” he said.

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