@datozainab clarifies Jarius Bondoc column ‘Rizal doesn’t deserve this’

Datin Seri Dato’ Zainab Abd. Kader (with twitter name @datozainab), the wife of Ambassador Dato Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad, Malaysia’s Ambassador to the Philippines disowned a Twitter message criticizing Philippine national hero Jose Rizal, saying it was a “set-up” aimed at putting them in a bad light and harming relations between the two countries.

Datin Seri Dato’ Zainab Abd. Kader, clarified that the Twitter message from the sender @BikMama2U was sent to her.

Dato’ Zainab referred to STAR columnist Jarius Bondoc on Aug. 1 “Rizal doesn’t deserve this,” where the Twitter message was attributed to her criticizing and labeling Rizal as an “infidel Malay.”

She clarified that she ” was not the sender of the message, noting that the message showed she was the recipient since the sender asked her to send her regards to her husband.”

“BikMama2U is pretending to be on my side. It was his or her who said that about Rizal, not me. BikMama is a fake twittter. We presumed it’s a picture of the Prime Minister’s wife. It’s a fake ID. It even said don’t forget to send regards to your husband,” Dato’ Zainab told The STAR.

This is her letter to the editor of Philippine Star:

I am writing to you in relation to Mr. Jarius Bondoc’s article, “Rizal Doesn’t Deserve This,” which appeared on the Philippine STAR website on Aug. 1, 2011.

As you are aware, Mr. Bondoc’s article claimed that a Twitter message by me criticized the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal. According to Mr. Bondoc, I had labeled Jose Rizal an “Infidel Malay.”

I wish to categorically deny the accusation against me that I called Jose Rizal an “Infidel Malay” via Twitter, or via any other medium for that matter. I wish to also deny in the strongest terms that I had insulted Jose Rizal in any manner whatsoever.

When Mr. Bondoc’s article came to my attention, I must admit that I was utterly confused at how such a statement could be attributed to me. After some research, I am pleased to share with you what had really transpired.

On July 16, 2011, a Twitter account by the handle @BikMama2U sent a Tweet labeling Philippine national hero Jose Rizal as an “Infidel Malay”. The Tweet by @BikMama2U tagged other Twitter users including myself, @datozainab. For some reason, Mr. Bondoc picked up on this Tweet and on August 1, 2011, published a highly erroneous article on it which makes some dangerous and false allegations. Indeed, Bondoc misrepresented the Tweet and alleged that I had insulted Jose Rizal, while the Tweet in question was in fact authored by @BikMama2U.

I assume that I do not have to explain the workings of Twitter to you, as Twitter has been widely utilized as a social media platform by wide segments of society. In this case, Mr. Bondoc failed to understand that @BikMama2U “tagged” me in her Tweet and I had not, as he claims, authored the said Tweet.

For your information, @BikMama2U is a Twitter account masquerading as in a rather disgraceful manner the spouse of the Hon. Prime Minister of Malaysia. It is widely known in Malaysian social media circles that @BikMama2U is a fake Twitter account.

I wish to take this opportunity to express my utmost admiration of Jose Rizal. My husband, Dato Seri Dr. Ibrahim Saad, the Ambassador of Malaysia to the Philippines is also a keen fan of the celebrated Philippine icon and hero. Indeed, Jose Rizal is also held in high regard in Malaysia with his heroic deeds and fight for independence included in the Malaysian education curriculum.

My husband and I are here in the Philippines to serve the interests of the Malaysian Government. We and the Malaysian Embassy in Manila are here to maintain and promote excellent relations between Malaysia and the Philippines in all aspects be it bilateral, regional or multilateral. It perplexes me as to why certain parties would choose to take actions detrimental to this noble goal.

It is my belief that this “Tweet Controversy” is an underhand tactic by the Malaysian opposition to discredit me and by association, my husband the Ambassador of Malaysia. Perhaps a certain opposition leader sees it in his interest to create diversions away from on-going court proceedings against him in Malaysia.

As I am writing to an Editor of a respected Philippine newspaper, I feel it presumptuous for me to tell you that fact-checking is paramount to good journalism. Nevertheless, I will appreciate if Mr. Bondoc could be reminded of this golden rule. Mr. Bondoc could have easily verified the erroneous allegations in his article if he contacted the Embassy of Malaysia, or even myself directly via my Twitter @datozainab.