KUALA LUMPUR: In her first address to the public since the 'listen, listen, listen' video broke last week, Sharifah Zohra Jabeen has come out to 'forgive' student Bawani KS.
In a recorded press statement uploaded on YouTube by TvMyMahasiswa on Sunday, Sharifah began by saying 'Let me explain. Please listen and rationalise' and went on to reveal that she had forgiven Bawani for 'whatever she said and did before, during and after the forum'.
Sharifah - president of Suara Wanita 1Malaysia (SW1M) said she was also extending her forgiveness to all those who had criticised her for insulting Bawani in the 24-minute video clip.
"This kind of act of forgiveness are also extended to those who had jumped onto the bandwagon and hurled harsh words towards me without checking their grounds and getting their facts right," she said in the video.
Sharifah, 40, became an overnight sensation following the spread of a video showing her in a heated exchange with Bawani during a forum entitled "Seiringkah Mahasiswa dan Politik' (Are graduates and politics aligned?) at Universiti Utara Malaysia in Kedah on Dec 8.
The clip, which went viral on Facebook, showed Sharifah speaking to Bawani in a condescending manner. Students in the hall were seen applauding for Sharifah throughout her speech.
The video - part 4 of the forum - also showed Sharifah grabbing the microphone from
Bawani, a law student and activist with Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) after
she brought up points on Bersih and free education.
She had then repeated the word 'listen' eleven times before cutting Bawani off by repeating the phrase 'let me speak'.
Sharifah blamed people she called 'irresponsible entities' for spinning the video to galvanise suppport for the Opposition. "This political, altered, sensational video had caused undue stress to my family, especially my young kids. I fear for their safety, of my family and I have been receiving threatening SMSes from irresponsible individuals, groups and even political parties. Our office was ambushed and threats were hurled at our doorsteps."
"The harsh, insensitive offensive yet vulgar personal remarks attacking my dignity and professionalism is aimed to destroy my reputation and damage the credibility of my NGO, SW1M."
Sharifah added that she was also 'bewildered' that several parties had cashed in on the popularity of the video by creating and selling merchandise.
Apart from generating massive criticism from Malaysians in and out of the country, the video also led to a number of parodies in which several companies jumped on as well.
Sharifah questioned why there had been no focus on the pledge taken by students at the start of the video (they had pledged to fight against 'deviant culture', 'destroyers of peace', 'street demonstrations' and support 'peace and harmony among multi-racial Malaysians without the interference of third parties').
"This cunning tactics work to propagate the heinous act of condemning hating, disgracing and mocking an innocent woman. Hence they fail to see that the issue is a communication problem between two people. And that is me and the young girl in the video.," she said.
She blamed the 'cunning people' for only highlighting part 4 of the video.
'I appeal to the Malaysian public not to let yourself to be entrapped in the game of hatred created for some by some for whatsoever reason behind it.
Sharifah however, made an apology to UUM which she said was 'the only party whom deserves my sincere apology'.
"Finally, I would say, let's heal the nation. Let's stop the game of hatred right now. So listen, listen and listen,. I hereby apologise to the people of Malaysia on the phenomenon listen which was intentionally caused by irresponsible entity and in which was totally out of my control whereby the said video was used to turn Malaysian enraged, attacking me personally. And this apology goes same to all the students in Malaysia which was somehow manipulated in this issue," she said.
Since the immense public outrage over the video, the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (KIMMA) distanced itself from her, saying she was 'hard to control' during her time as KIMMA's National Women's head.
Umno Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin meanwhile stressed that Sharifah and SW1M had nothing to do with Barisan Nasional and did not represent the ruling coalition.