Feb 17, 2009
PETALING JAYA: Selangor executive council member and Bukit Lanjan assemblyman Elizabeth Wong, whose nude photographs were being circulated, has quit both positions, paving the way for a third by-election within the next two months.
Her decision, announced at the PKR headquarters in Tropicana here Tuesday morning, came after PKR leaders met Monday night to discuss the scandal.
She was also the state exco member in charge of Tourism, Consumer Affairs and the Environment, and the information chief of the Women’s wing of PKR and of her division Petaling Jaya Utara.
The Election Commission has fixed April 7 for by-elections in the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat in Perak and the Bukit Selambau state seat in Kedah.
Bukit Gantang Member of Parliament Roslan Shaharum of PAS died of a heart attack on Feb 9, while the Bukit Selambau assemblyman V. Arumugam of PKR quit the day before over a marriage scandal.
Wong said in a statement Monday that she was informed last Friday by journalists from a daily that they were in possession of intimate photographs of her and that the daily was about to publish a story about them.
She described the distribution and publication of the materials a malicious attack on her personality, a gross outrage of her modesty and a gross invasion of her privacy.
OCPD Asst Comm Arjunaidi Mohamed confirmed that Wong had lodged a police report Sunday night and said that police were investigating.
He said that Wong had heard about the photographs being circulated from friends and journalists.
“We will be calling everyone involved to give their statements as soon as possible,” he said.
ACP Arjunaidi warned that action would be taken against anyone found distributing the pictures.
“You may face a jail term of up to three years, a fine, or both, under Section 292 of the Penal Code for distributing and having in possession material containing pornographic elements,” he said.
There is talk that the pictures, allegedly snapped without her consent or knowledge, might have been taken and circulated by an ex-boyfriend.
The distribution of her photographs has incensed women’s groups and leaders from both sides of the political divide.
MCA Wanita chief Datin Chew Mei Fun condemned the person or persons responsible, saying:
“We are outraged by such shameful acts of using women as sexual objects. It is an outright invasion of the privacy of women as well as an exploitation of women for political use.”
Chew said taking photographs of bodily parts without consent or knowledge is against the law and punishable under the Penal Code (Act 574) and publishing such pornographic materials in the public domain also constituted to a violation of the same Act.
The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) expressed shock over the unauthorised circulation of the pictures, saying that Wong was being victimised as a single woman, in a tactic meant to deliberately cast moral aspersions and indirectly question her ability to carry out her duties as a politician.
The group – comprising Awam, Empower, WAO and WCC – said it hoped to hear strong statements from both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat condemning the circulation of sexually intimate photos and videos as a means of practising politics.
Wong, in a personal message on her blog, thanked everyone for messages of support.
“I am grateful for your support and kind words of encouragement, especially from my constituents, my party and Pakatan members, exco members and old friends. This means the world to me.
“I also wish to thank some fellow politicians from the other opposite end of the political divide for their encouragement too,” she said.
Wong won the Bukit Lanjan seat with a majority of over 5,000, the second largest majority won by a PKR state assembly candidate in Selangor, in the general election on March 8 last year.
On Monday, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim had said that the scandal would not affect Wong’s ability to serve as assemblyman and exco member.
“I have full confidence that she will continue to carry out her duties efficiently,” he said in a statement, adding that in her 11 months in office, she had proven that she could carry out her duties as assemblyman and exco member diligently and intelligently.