Pandelela: Rape jokes are not funny

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That was the strong message sent by national diving queen Datuk Pandelela Rinong following a viral issue on social media, which saw a local actor make light of a rape scene in his previous film in a recent television show.

Citing a previous issue engulfing the national diving camp before, the 28-year-old diver claimed that a former coach often told ‘dirty jokes’ before the individual went on to rape one of the national divers some years back.

“I used to have a coach who liked to make obscene jokes, I kept quiet and didn’t even fake a laugh because I was afraid of him. Once I couldn’t stand it and reprimanded him, but I got bullied back.

“But the saddest thing was that in the years (he was there) he caused problems every year. But we athletes couldn’t do anything, because his big backup was our own head coach,” she said in a tweet thread today.

However, the Sarawakian was grateful to see that the divers were being protected by their sport association after the issue broke out previously.

“Moral of the story, 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,” she added.

In her tweets this morning, Pandelela did not reveal any names but in 2017, a coach in the national diving team from China, Huang Qiang was charged in the Sessions Court with raping a national diver at the National Aquatics Centre in Bukit Jalil.

However, Huang was acquitted in the Court of Appeal after the prosecution withdrew its appeal.

Following that, the national diving setup was disbanded and former head coach Yang Zhuliang was relieved of his duties.

Pandelela’s tweet went viral after it was retweeted over 10,000 times and received more than 11,000 likes, at the time of writing.

Pandelela had previously voiced her support for secondary school student Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam who had exposed one of her teachers for purportedly making rape jokes during class.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, in his reply to Pandelela’s tweet, commended the two-time Olympic medallist’s bold move to speak out on this disturbing issue.

Khairy, who is also a former Youth and Sports Minister, pointed out that athletes’ safety from physical or mental abuse far outweigh winning medals any day.

Khairy said he received criticism from sports journalists for his actions in disbanding the national diving setup.

“Thanks for speaking out, Lela. There are still sports journalists who criticise the decision that we made to shake up Malaysian diving in light of these allegations a few years ago. I would make the same decision every single time,” he said.