Newly minted Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman came under fire after it was reported that he had hired a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as a press officer
In a WhatsApp group created to share the Youth and Sports Minister's schedule with members of the media, Numan Afifi introduced himself as the group administrator and press officer to Syed Saddiq, Malaysiakini reported.
According to Malay Mail, critics of Numan quickly condemned the appointment of the former Subang DAP Youth publicity secretary and insisted that Syed Saddiq should not hire a "champion of LGBT causes" under the government.
Numan, who had organised a Pride Day break fast event under a gay rights group, Kempen Pelangi, in June last year, left his post in DAP after being criticised for it.
On Friday, 6 July, Syed Saddiq denied appointing any officer to his ministry as he is still in the interviewing process
The Muar MP explained in a Facebook post that, "To date, not a single officer had been officially appointed to the Youth and Sports Ministry. Not even a Political Secretary, Press Secretary, Special Tasks Officer."
He added that, "I do not want to rush in making the appointments because I understand that leading the ministry is a big responsibility."
The ministry's online staff directory, which previously listed Numan's name as a "special officer," now no longer does so.
Numan has since echoed Syed Saddiq's sentiments, confirming that "no formal appointments have been made in the ministry yet"
The former DAP Youth leader, who describes Syed Saddiq as a friend, revealed that his current role is to assist the Bersatu Youth chief until a new press secretary has been appointed.
"He (Syed Saddiq) is still looking for people to join his team," Numan said.
However, when questioned for his personal feelings on the issue, Numan replied, "No comments on that. I don't know what to feel now," Malaysiakini reported.
In response to criticism on Numan's purported appointment in the comments section of his Facebook post, Syed Saddiq maintained that Malaysia needed "the best" working in the government
"Early on, when we started Armada (Bersatu Youth), we did it this way (selecting from the best). Many had admonished us for not taking in 'the early warriors that exited Umno and others' but Armada (remained) solid," he said.
"In every organisation there is balance. We need the best for our beloved country," Syed Saddiq added, according to Malaysiakini.
Meanwhile, netizens in support of Numan's appointment took to social media to argue that only his qualifications and capabilities should be taken into consideration, and not his sexual orientation