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We Stand With Numan Afifi

Compiled by Queer Lapis.

Over the last two days, Malaysian Minister of Youth & Sports Syed Saddiq has been questioned over his hiring of Numan Afifi on his team. Numan is known as the president of Pelangi, which organised the Big Gay Iftar and has been active in advocating the human rights of LGBT people. Besides that, Numan is also active in youth empowerment, voter education, electoral campaigning, interfaith dialogues, and other forms of activism.After the news of him being a member of Syed Saddiq’s staff became viral, thanks to people from BN, Numan’s name was erased from the roster of Ministry of Youth & Sports.

Many Malaysians are urging Syed Saddiq to uphold principles of fairness, equality, and meritocracy, and retain Numan in his team. Here is a collection of notes in support of a great Malaysian youth named Numan Afifi.

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What inclusive nation is PH building?

Facebook post by Pang Khee Teik

If Numan Afifi loses his job due to his sexual orientation then it is a clear case of workplace discrimination. If he loses his job due to pressure from political opponents then it is a critical case of a lack of ovaries from Pakatan Harapan and Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman. We voted Pakatan Harapan because among the five main thrusts of its manifesto is the promise to “build an inclusive and moderate nation”. Letting go of a staff due to his sexual orientation is a betrayal of those of us who bought into this promise. Letting go of a staff due to pressure from cowardly unprincipled opponents exposes your own cowardice and lack of principles too. Letting go of a staff this way signals to companies and employers in Malaysia that it is okay to dismiss or not hire LGBT staff, which is already a reality for many of us. Letting go of Numan Afifi tells us that an inclusive nation according to Pakatan Harapan is exclusive only to people who are already part of your little club. What is the damn difference with the old Malaysia? Pakatan, don’t be as cowardly as BN. Don’t make us lose harapan in you.

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“Utamakan isu yg penting terkini seperti isu perkahwinan budak bawah umur”

Facebook post by Nisha Ayub

Salam kepada Kerajaan Baru Malaysia yg saya seorang mak nyah di Malaysia undi dan sokong . Tujuan utama saya inginkan perubahan ini adalah sebagai rakyat Malaysia, saya amat risau akan melihat kejatuhan nama Malaysia dimata dunia.

Pelbagai masalah timbul seperti mata wang menurun, kos sara hidup meningkat, peluang pekerjaan yg amat rendah, racism yg dicetus oleh pihak sebelum ini mengakibatkan ketegangan antara masyarakat, kuasa dictatorship yg amat ketara sehingga rakyat takut nk bersuara, isu wang rakyat yg digunakan utk perkara yg tidak sepatutnya terutamanya 1mbd yg telah memberi imej yg amat negatif di seluruh dunia, isu hak asasi samarata yg selalu di ceroboh pelbagai pihak.

Saya rasa isu isu yg saya utarakan ini adalah juga diantara isu kebanyakan rakyat Malaysia berbilang agama, bangsa, warna kulit, gender dan juga seksualiti inginkan perubahan dan sebab inilah kami memilih Kerajaan Baru Malaysia ini. 💝

Perubahan yg saya inginkan bukan berdasarkan hanya pada gender identiti saya sebagai seorang mak nyah tetapi sebagai rakyat Malaysia yg mempunyai hak utk mengundi utk masa depan negara kita semua. 

Jangan gunakan taktik setengah parti politik dimana mereka cuba mengaburi masalah utama dgn menggunakan isu komuniti minoriti seperti Transgender, L,B atau G utk mengubah pandangan mata masyarakat. 

Kami golongan minoriti tidak langsung mengakibatkan ketegangan, keganasan, ancaman mahupun kepada kejatuhan negara. 

Utamakan isu yg penting terkini seperti isu perkahwinan budak bawah umur, rasuah serta penggunaan wang rakyat utk perkara yg lebih memberi impak positif kpd seluruh rakyat Malaysia. 💝

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“A significant section of the youths in this country do not have the ability to be themselves.”

Tweets by Afiq Harraz

I’m absolutely disappointed and disgusted with you, . Your ministry website showed the list of your Special Officers which included an openly gay man (not that his sexual orientation has anything to do with his ability to do a good job).

When some homophobic (naturally) Malays made a fuss about Numan’s sexual orientation and his championing of everyone being treated equally regardless of sexual orientations which, again, has nothing to do with his ability to do his job well, you came out (no pun intended) –

– denying that any appointment had been made. Then your ministry immediately wiped out any record of Numan Afifi on its page. And then you said nothing. I have a question for you. Are you really a man of principle or just another cowardly calculated politician, ?

Yes, it is the concern of the many homophobes in Malaysia when it comes to Numan’s appointment but as an international debater and a representative of youth, don’t you think you should stand your ground instead of being cowed into submission by –

– a section of society that often drenchingly fantasise about going back in time to the 7th century? Instead of submitting to the barbaric demands of these people, you should’ve given them pointers on why it is imperative to have everyone equally represented –

– in a ministry that is supposed to oversee the youths of the country as well as an explanation to these holier-than-thou section of society that one’s sexual orientation does not impede one’s ability to work and perform, as what a debater would naturally, and be expected to, do.

Do you know which section of society is most affected when it comes to discrimination and persecution against the LGBT community? Yes, the youths! A significant section of the youths in this country do not have the ability to be themselves.

They’re bullied. They’re taunted. They’re abused, both mentally and physically, and in some cases, sexually. They’re beaten to death. The saddest part is they have no one to go to when it comes to taking meaningful action that will effect change to their predicaments.

A minister who is supposed to have the interests of all youths in his undertakings have now unfortunately and appallingly sidelined them by denying them someone to look up to in a government that is supposed to be representative of all people.

Get your shit together, . You’re better than this. At least, that’s what I hope for. #LGBTPROUD #LGBTI #LGBTQ #Equality #YouthPower #Youth #NumanAfifi #NOH8

Dig your heels in. That’s what I, along with numerous other people, expect from you.

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A test of Syed Saddiq’s Character

Facebook post by Yu Ren Chung


If you ever said, “I don’t support LGBT but am against discrimination” —

Then you better defend the right of any LGBT person to work at KBSMalaysia or anywhere else.

But if you think “I don’t support LGBT but am against discrimination” is a reasonable middle-ground, recent events show it is NOT.

It perpetuates a culture where hiring an LGBT person (i.e. not discriminating that person) is scandalous and seen as “supporting LGBT”, which in turn leads people to discriminate against LGBT persons by not hiring them.

Every person must be able to enjoy human rights and non-discrimination, period.

And to Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, this is one of many moments where your character will be tested. This is a chance for you to send a message to our youth — that EVERYONE has a future in Malaysia. I hope you take it.

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This is the reality for many people

Statement by Thilaga, Justice For Sisters

Numan’s experience surfaces the many hidden experiences of people who face daily discrimination in the employment sector based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Discrimination be it driven by homophobia, transphobia, sexism and other forms of prejudice hinders access to opportunities and continues the marginalization of people. This is the reality for many people not just Numan. The only difference is that Numan’s experience is visible and out in the open.
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“Defend an unpopular stance for once because it is right”

Facebook post by Maryam Lee

You know what I want Syed Saddiq to do? I want him to come out and say, yes, I picked out Numan as a special officer because he is a capable officer.

I want him to defend Numan openly and bravely.

I want him to say LGBT people live among us, work among us, play among us, pay taxes among us, and that is OK.

I just want him to defend an unpopular stance for once because it is right.

I want him to stop basking on popularity alone in public, but throw your own friends under the bus when shit hits the fan (boy do I know that feeling).

But all this is too much to ask, innit? When it really comes down to it, he’s not as “brave” and “pioneering” as he claims to be. He is the new guard of the old, the young face of the powerful Malay establishment. What glass ceiling? Fuck your non-existent glass ceiling!

#Numan4Youth #BeAManSaddiq #IStandWithNumanAfifi

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Stand Your Ground

Dear Syed Saddiq,

Congratulations on your new job! It is really great that we have a young person as the Minister of Youth And Sports. I heard on the grapevine that you are already facing your first test. It most definitely won’t be your last – no matter how you choose to play your hand.

Firstly do understand that people will always bring to you stories of your employees. These carriers of tales may be disgruntled ex-employees, your partners, your benefactors, your investors, your stakeholders, your detractors, your allies, your friends or even your own employees. You must realise you cannot do management by whispers in the wind. This means you cannot react or take action based on every gossip that reaches your ears. So what can you do? Go back to performance. You hired a person to do a job, you must evaluate a person on how the job is being done. If he or she is qualified, has the skill sets and the right attitude, defend the staff no matter what others may say. Because you know quality and commitment when you see it.

Secondly your portfolio is sports and you will also know that it is an extremely politicised portfolio. You have to choose and approve national teams based on merit, and no other criteria. If you crumble now, people will know you are crumble-able. If they bring to you that one of the  athletes you have selected is gay – will you drop him or her from the national line-up? Surely you shouldn’t. Because talent speaks louder than anything else.

Today the issue is LGBT, tomorrow it will be race, it will be religion, it will be gender. For example, what if you decided to revamp the National football team which consisted less than half of Malay Muslims, simply because that year that’s the talent you got? What if Malay nationalists were to say hey since you became Minister we are seeing that our race is getting lesser representation. Will you then say, oh let’s change the team line-up cos people are not happy? Surely not – because you would want Malaysia to have the best chance of winning. And you have to stand by your decisions and choices. By the way you also cannot have management by consensus. Well you could – but that would mean the average ideas surface to the top, and average ideas will take us nowhere.

In work and in sports we are called to demonstrate skills. Whether a person has a different sexual orientation or different religious practices are matters left to the personal domain, and should not come into the criteria of selection and continued employment either in work or in sports.

Stand your ground and send out a clear and strong message, that you are about meritocracy and non-discrimination. It will hold you in good stead for the rest of your career.

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“Be loyal to your team & they will be loyal to you”

Tweets by Wef

I’m optimistic that will be a great minister. I will certainly support his cause. However, i must say that i’m disappointed with him regarding the Numan Afifi situation. I’m disappointed bcs he didn’t stand by that appointment & his principle.

Undeniably, Syed Saddiq will be bashed by certain groups of the society if he appoints Numan Afifi. However, i want to remind him of the challenges KJ had to go through when putting together his team at KBS. KJ put together a diverse team of different races & religions.

KJ was bashed from every angle possible by UMNO supporters, members & leaders. The most notable appointment was Regina Lee as press secretary. UMNO supporters wanted a Malay only team at KBS. However, KJ stood by his ground & principle.

KJ didn’t change his team but changed people’s perception towards it. Together with his team they proved that a woman can hold a top position and can work while pregnant. KJ was loyal to his team & in return his team was loyal to him.

Syed Saddiq is young, influential & charismatic. He can change people’s perception. Therefore, stand your ground & by your principle. Be loyal to your team & they will be loyal to you. I vow to support Syed Saddiq if he appoints a LGBT individual to his team.

At the end of the day, we must end discrimination in Malaysia. I want to wake up to a M’sia that is just. I want a young kid to know that although he is gay, M’sia has a place for him too. I want LGBT members to not be scared to be themselves. I will stand by you .

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Facebook post by Pemuda PSM

In light of recent events with Pakatan Harapan taking over as our new government, another incident brought us back to everything that is wrong in our country. Nu’man Afifi, a talented youth who is dedicated to his job and bringing a greater change to Malaysia is now the country’s punching bag solely because of his sexual orientation. Yet another unforgiving blow towards the LGBT community.

With the chants of “New Malaysia” by the entire nation, it is rather disappointing to see the mentality of our citizens still far from what we aspire to be. Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto included 5 pillars which act as the basic foundation of all their policies.

The 5th pillar states “Create a Malaysia that is inclusive, moderate and respected globally.” This is further elaborated with “Citizens of any country aspire for an inclusive, harmonious, progressive, prosperous, just and equitable life, free from any forms of discrimination.”

Yet, when it comes to appointing an officer under the Ministry of Youth and Sports, instead of appointing someone based on their merits, they are being evaluated based on their personal life choices which have zero effects on their attitude towards their job.

This is only the beginning. The issue now at hand is sexual orientation. In the future, if the issue is regarding women, gender, minors, are you going to turn your back on what’s right just because some people are giving you a hard time?

We urge Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman to stand true to the promises made by Pakatan Harapan to provide a more inclusive society for Malaysia. Do not playing a political game as it shows that PH is no different from BN, in whom many have lost faith in. Be principled in your decisions.


Written by,
Vennusha Priyaa
Secretary General of Pemuda PSM

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New Malaysia must be inclusive for all, says lawyer

Statement by Syahredzan Johan, quoted by Malaysiakini

“Those who truly want to contribute to the nation should be given an opportunity to do so, regardless of their faith, beliefs, race, sexual identity, skin colour and political affiliation.

“There should be no discrimination or restriction on any individuals who have the ability and capability to contribute to the country, just based on these grounds.” — Syahredzan Johan

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Yoursay: Syed Saddiq, new M’sia should not discriminate against LGBT

Compilation of readers’ comments by Malaysiakini

Headhunter: What’s wrong with appointing a person who helps marginalised fellow human beings?

I agree with other commenters that Syed Saddiq should officially appoint Numan because we see a good human being, something which is getting hard to find these days.

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When LGBT People Came Out As Malaysians

Does new Malaysia mean all of us without exception?

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