Chess tournament director says dress in viral photo doctored


KUALA LUMPUR: A local chess tournament director who was alleged to have labelled a 12-year-old female competitor’s dress as “seductive”, today claimed that the “evidence” in that case had been doctored.

Mohd Harris Al-Hajj Abdullah, the lawyer for 2017 National Scholastic Chess Championship tournament director Sophian A Yusuf, said a photograph taken candidly during the tournament showed the female competitors’ dress to be shorter than the required knee-length.

“It’s a school venue, and the school has its own dress code, and that is, any skirt or dress must be below the knee.

“The picture (of the dress) I saw on the internet was a bit longer. Who took it? That we don’t know. But during the tournament, it (the dress’ length) was a bit higher than the knee, which was against the dress code regulation.

“It looks like the evidence posted on the internet was doctored and tailored to make it look bad,” he said at a press conference at Olympic Sport Hotel here today.

Harris added that he had in his possession the photograph taken by the tournament’s official photographer.

But when asked to show it, he said “it is not the time” as the photograph will be presented as evidence in court.

The press conference today was also organised to announce Sophian’s plan to take legal action against those who had slandered him since the controversy erupted last month, when the girl’s coach, identified as Kaushal Khandar, first posted a comment on the issue on his Facebook page, with a photo said to be of the girl in a dress.

Kaushal had claimed that the girl was forced to withdraw from the tournament as her dress was deemed “seductive”. The Facebook post then went viral.

A few days later, social media users took matters into their own hands by “naming and shaming” Sophian by sharing his photo online.

This led to him being attacked by a wider circle of social media users as his photo and details went viral.

However, on May 3, Sophian revealed that he wasn’t even at the tournament when the incident took place.

Sophian said his lawyer would issue letters of demand to several individuals whom they had identified as having slandered him. Among them are Kaushal and several politicians whom he said had played up the controversy to gain political mileage.

“This issue is still going on and, in fact, has gotten worse even after my denial. I need to take legal action to clear my name,” Sophian said.

Meanwhile, Harris said his client had not only been ridiculed locally, but also at the international level.

“This must stop now,” he said, adding that the letters of demand requesting for an apology and damages would be delivered as early as next week.

Last week, Sophian had lodged reports with both the police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission over the controversy.