Defections and a Sex Scandal

This is what Malaysian politics is all about recently – dirt and democracy all mixed up in a dark storm. Elizabeth Wong, Parti Keadilan Rakyat Selangor state minister, tendered her political resignation after nude photos of her were exposed. The culprit, supposedly her boyfriend, is already aboard. How convenient. Many naturally suspect some dodgy BN hand in the whole scandal.

Just earlier this month, three Partai Keadilan Rakyat and one DAP state assembly members defected from the opposition government there, thus eroding their slim majority over BN there. One of the Keadilan defector joined UMNO while the remaning three are independents friendly to BN. A by-election might be the result, giving BN another chance to retain Perak. But a by-election would be risky for BN as now they have 31 over the opposition’s 28 MPs in Perak.  What unethical or even illegal leverage that inspired this defection is open to guessing. Surely it was not without some dubious prodding from BN.

BN is regaining the initiative again and everything is fair in love, war and politics. Or is it? Whether there is sophistication in how BN tries to undermine the opposition’s hold in the 5 states snatched from BN last year is inconsequential for the BN.

A naked photo scandal of sorts already made one local opposition NCMP lose his seat and public confidence in him before. However, would a ruling party-opposition defection occur here? It is unthinkable under the current climate but if it did, it would more likely take the form of a PAP guy going over. Which PAP guy turning coat is hard to say. Inderjit Singh who always asks in parliament the questions we want to ask? Or some quiet allowance-pocketing backbencher whom we have never heard of?

Nude-photo politician cries conspiracy

PETALING JAYA: The Selangor state minister at the centre of a nude photo scandal has no doubt why the controversy broke out.

Miss Elizabeth Wong sees it as gutter politics at its worst.

“The events of the past two days have shown an insidious and underhanded attempt by certain quarters to smear my reputation. My personal life and privacy have been violated,” she said in a statement.

She added that though “the campaign directed towards me has caused a lot of anguish”, the “real objective” was to discredit her party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

“In the interest of my party, I have decided to offer my resignation,” she said.

The revelation that nude photos of Miss Wong were circulating online set Malaysia abuzz. Many quickly observed that, if she was forced to resign – as she in fact offered to do yesterday – this would lead to a by-election.

The country is already facing two such impending electoral tests.

However, PKR adviser and opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim said the party would decide whether to accept Miss Wong’s resignation only after she returns from an unspecified period of extended leave.

“No one in (opposition alliance) Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is pressuring her to leave,” he said, adding that he was concerned with a “pattern of tarnishing PKR (representatives’) reputations”.

Earlier this month, another PKR state minister – Mr V. Arumugam of Kedah state – quit after allegations of a marriage scandal arose.

Meanwhile, Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim said he would seek the views of the state sultan as to whether Miss Wong should resign.

The royalty in Malaysia is suffering something of a public backlash after the Sultan of Perak declined to dissolve the state assembly, allowing the PR state government there to fall because of a clutch of defecting state assemblymen.

Miss Wong, already a noted human- rights activist before she joined politics, won her Bukit Lanjan seat with the second-highest majority achieved by a PKR state-assembly candidate in Selangor.

Yesterday, Dr Chua Soi Lek, deputy chief of the Malaysian Chinese Association party – part of the national ruling coalition – wrote on his blog: “Elizabeth Wong must stay strong. This is not the end of the world.”

Dr Chua, a former health minister who had to quit all his posts after his own sex scandal in 2007, made a triumphant comeback last October.


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