Malaysian national hockey player Hanis Nadiah Onn has been suspended indefinitely following an investigation into a racist comment she had posted online.
Commented on a video
Hanis had made a racist comment on a video showing the mainly Malaysian Indian audience of a AR Rahman concert.
The concert by the legendary Indian composer was very well-attended, including by Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
According to Free Malaysia Today, the national player's comments implied that the stadium, whose audience was largely ethnically Indian, would have been "smelly", evoking a racist stereotype.
She has been suspended indefinitely for her comments, with the Malaysian Youth and Sport Ministry saying it had instructed the Malaysian Hockey Confederation not to consider Hanis for selection.
She will not be available for selection during the upcoming 2023 SEA Games in Cambodia.
The Ministry said that they might reconsider the decision in the future, should Hanis show a "positive change in her attitude".
Hanis had been interviewed by the Ministry, where she said that her comment, made on Jan. 28 was a joke referring to the tens of thousands of people present in Bukit Jalil stadium.
It was only after the comment had sparked outrage did she realise the "racist elements" of the comment.
Following that outrage, Hanis deleted the comment the next morning on Jan. 29 and issued an apology.
Hanis had said that she was very sorry for the comment, and insisted that she was not racist, citing the multiracial community she grew up in Kluang, Johor, and the many Indian friends she had made as a national athlete.
She was also defended by the her coach, Mohd Nasihin Nubli Ibrahim, who praised her work ethic.
The Youth and Sport Ministry said that it hoped that the suspension would serve as a reminder to "always be careful with any post or comment" on social media.
Rage and outrage
Hanis had been roundly criticised for her comments, notably by former Malaysian Minister Rafidah Aziz.
According to Malaysiakini, Rafidah had said that there was no room for "feelings... of being superior over others", and that Malaysians must understand, respect, and accept their diversities.
Free Malaysia Today reported that Hanis had defenders like Perikatan Nasional Youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari.
The MP for Pasir Mas in Kelantan said that he strongly condemned Hanis' suspension.
He said that the investigation committee was told of Hanis' humble and highly disciplined nature, and that Hanis' national coach had confirmed her numerous Indian friends amongst the hockey community.
Ahmad Fadhli said that this showed she did not have racist intent, and that her suspension should be rescinded.
Hanis is not the only Malaysian under investigation for racist comments made during the AR Rahman concert.
The Malay Mail reported that Instagram influencer "fatinamyralee" was under investigation for using a racial slur in a Instagram Story post.
Top image via @TeamMsia/Twitter