Syed Saddiq Accused of Cowardice for Not Standing up for His “Bro”

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Following backlash over his LGBT activism, Numan, whom Syed Saddiq claims will always be his “bro”, quits as his press officer.

Only a week has passed since Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman was sworn in as youth and sports minister, but the 25-year-old is already facing criticism after the resignation of his personal aide Numan Afifi Saadan who supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

After Syed Saddiq tweeted “you’ll always be a bro” in response to Numan’s resignation, the Muar MP became the target of angry Malaysians who took to social media to vent.

“I think you don’t know how to bro, bro,” LGBT activist Pang Khee Teik tweeted.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

Twitter user Afiq Harraz questioned Syed Saddiq’s principles.

“I have a question for you. Are you really a man of principle or just another cowardly calculated politician, Syed Saddiq?” his tweet read.

Numan, a well-known activist in the LGBT community and the organiser of a Pride Day breaking-of-fast event held in 2017, announced earlier today his resignation as Syed Saddiq’s press officer.

He cited backlash and threats from opposition propagandists that made it impossible for him to carry out his duties.

Numan had resigned from his Subang DAP Youth publicity secretary post last June after Muslim groups condemned the Pride Day event under LGBT rights advocacy group Pelangi Campaign, of which he was founding president.

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Earlier, critics had insisted that it was inappropriate for a “champion of LGBT causes” to be a government staff member.

Syed Saddiq responded saying that Numan was not officially appointed and the Ministry was still interviewing potential candidates for the position.

In response, LGBT activists said it would be a clear case of workplace discrimination if Numan loses his job.

The issue also elicited a strong response from both civil society and politicians alike, who voiced solidarity for Numan, and urged the Pakatan Harapan government not to succumb to such discrimination.

Human rights NGO Hakam condemned such “discrimination against members of the LGBT community”.

“No person should be denied opportunities in employment and career progression, be it within the public or private sphere, on grounds of sexual orientation,” it said in a statement.

Klang MP Charles Santiago in a strong statement reminded Harapan it was elected on its promises of reforms and inclusivity, which should include sexual minorities, while PSM Youth secretary-general Vennusha Priyaa said the government should employ based on merit, not on their “personal life choices”.