The matter only started to spiral out of control after people started to point out that Numan Afifi is a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and the president of Pelangi, who organised the Big Gay Iftar. Aside from advocating for the human rights of LGBT people, Numan has also been playing an active role to push for youth empowerment, voter education and all kinds of activism.
In an official statement, Numan confirmed that he was only trying to help out Syed in his time of need before the actual press officer appointment takes places in the near future.
After “backlash and threats from opposition propagandists”, Numan Afifi says he will only be temporary Press Officer to @SyedSaddiq who “has respected my decision and stands firm against any form of discrimination.. I ask for this polemics not to be dragged any further”. pic.twitter.com/Sbpg7cw8EZ
— Sumisha Naidu (@SumishaCNA) July 9, 2018
Both Syed Saddiq and Numan received backlash on social media, especially from the opposition propagandists revolved around homophobia and concerns over the minister’s judgement. Syed Saddiq acknowledged the sentiment on Twitter and reminds the public that what had happened does not affect their friendship at all.
Your service has been invaluable bro since our campaigning days.
Stay strong and i’ll always respect your decision.
You’ll always be a bro. https://t.co/68nhiuaMqY
— Syed Saddiq (@SyedSaddiq) July 9, 2018
Although it may seem like the end of it, the treatment Numan has endured since the news went viral just goes to show how far we are from Pakatan Harapan’s promised “inclusive” society.
Syed Saddiq’s decision not to speak up on the matter to defend his friend resulted in many Malaysians to express their disappointment over how the situation turned out – even activist Siti Kasim had something to say to our minister. If anyone was to be able to speak up on matters in relation to the LGBT community, the younger generation had grand hopes that Syed Saddiq would be that guy in parliament to speak his mind as he took on the role as Youth and Sports minister.
Syed Sadiq, grow some balls kid. https://t.co/uGZcIArJLk
— Siti Kasim (@sitikasim) July 8, 2018
It's not the fact that Syed Saddiq "never appointed Numan officially" – that's not the point. The point is that Syed Saddiq SAID NOTHING ABOUT DISCRIMINATING BASED ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION. Don't try to shift the real issue to sth else with a distracting narrative.
— Mrym. (@mrymler) July 9, 2018
Syed saddiq doesnt have to be scared of opposition if he's really firmly to fulfill PH manifesto where in workforce, there shall be no discrimination regardless of race, religion & sexuality. He doesnt need to be afraid in doing what he thinks is right & explain briefly to ppl.
— Khairul 🌺 (@CAYROL___) July 7, 2018
Disappointed with Syed Saddiq for sidestepping the issue of appointing Numan as part of his team, simply because a bunch of religious nutcases decided to out Numan as an LGBT advocate. The least you could do was defend him.
— Jam (@jamdaclam) July 7, 2018
I’m optimistic that @SyedSaddiq 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.
— Wef (@SyedRifqi99) July 7, 2018
It was a true test for Syed Saddiq as a newly-minted, let alone youngest, minister, on the cabinet as he must be able to stay true to his words as an influential figure and be clear on his principles to be aligned with the “New Malaysia” everyone’s talking about.
There’s a lot to learn and here’s hoping the conversations we have today will make big changes for tomorrow. In the words of Numan:
“Hopefully we get to live as a community in Malaysia that cherishes diversity without prejudices.”