PETALING JAYA: Transgender cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat, who has been granted asylum in Australia, said last night that she was used as a scapegoat to distract from other issues in Malaysia.
Sajat said in a video interview with actor-comedian Harith Iskandar that she had often been turned into political and religious “material”, pushing to the sideline other more pressing issues, such as whether some imported meat was halal or not.
“In Malaysia, the issues revolving around me can distract from that,” said Sajat, whose legal name is Muhammad Sajjad Kamaruzzaman but who identifies as a woman.
Sajat said she felt stressed, unsafe and even suicidal after being roughed up and molested when detained by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) earlier this year. She filed a police report and the matter is under investigation.
She added that the Jais officers might not have understood what she felt when she was roughed up. “The excuse was that I was (physically) a male, but I did not feel safe. I ran and hid myself, because I did not feel safe.”
This was what contributed to her decision to flee to Australia, she said, adding that she now felt more appreciated there, and felt free to be herself; she said Australians had been helpful in helping her sort out her accommodation and in starting up her business.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Sajat claimed that religious officers had groped her private parts when she was called in for questioning. She later made a police report over the issue.
While Jais has left it to the police to investigate, Selangor police chief Arjunaidi Mohamed said Sajat had filed a report only about being roughed up by the religious officers, not about being sexually assaulted.