PETALING JAYA: Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman's (pic) endearing attempt to break the barrier by asking people to call him "bro" instead of "Yang Berhormat" has backfired.
Soon after his press officer Numan Afifi Saadan was forced to resign due to his lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activism, #dontbrome (don't call me bro) started to trend on Twitter in retaliation of Syed Saddiq's alleged failure to defend Numan.
When Numan announced his resignation on Monday (July 9), the young minister responded with a short "goodbye" message on Twitter, saying that his "bro" Numan's service has been invaluable.
"You’ll always be a bro,” the Muar MP said to Numan.
However, LGBT activists and allies have taken to Twitter, slamming the 26-year-old not to misuse the word "bro".
In popular culture, "bro" is lingo for friends who look out for each other.
"You can't say he's made invaluable contribution and he's your 'bro' and then back off when questioned. This is New Malaysia 'bro', stand up for the marginalised," Natasha tweeted.
LGBT activists said they voted for Pakatan Harapan in hopes of a more inclusive and tolerant society, but Syed Saddiq's silence over the cyberbullying and discrimination that Numan faced over his sexual orientation was disappointing.
Pillar five in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto promises to "create a Malaysia that is inclusive, moderate and respected globally".
"The only kind of 'bro' that Syed Saddiq has proved to be is B-R-O, 'Be Really Obtuse'," Kerry Chin said.
Timothy Phillip Gan said: "Being LGBT here in Malaysia, in this so-called 'Malaysia Baru' still gets you death threats, costs you your job, even though you're much more intelligent and capable than your harassers.
"Positive representation matters, and that was what Numan Afifi could have achieved for so many LGBTQ youths out there. But that golden opportunity was robbed from him," Gan added.
The controversy has pushed Syed Saddiq between a rock and a hard place.
Not only are liberal Malaysians disappointed at his silence, conservatives said he has betrayed them by supporting a gay person.
Many are demanding for Syed Saddiq to admit whether he had knowingly hired a gay activist into the Youth and Sports Ministry.
"Come on bro, [how can you] support this kind of people. They are cancer in religion," Capt Mud Asyraf said.
"Syed, don't end up losing in GE15 just because you want to champion the rights of LGBT," Fin said.
Syed Saddiq came under fire last week after critics voiced out against Numan being the organiser of a Pride Day breaking of fast event held in 2017.
They insisted that it was inappropriate for a “champion of LGBT causes” to be a government staff member.
In response to the uproar, Syed Saddiq said that Numan was not officially appointed and that the ministry was still interviewing potential candidates for the position.
On Monday (July 9), Numan said he has no choice but to resign, as the backlash and threats have made it impossible for him to exercise his duties.
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