THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

> Who took it?

Police have yet to identify the person behind the circulation of nude photographs of Selangor executive councillor (exco), Elizabeth Wong.

Petaling Jaya OCPD, ACP Arjunaidi Mohamed said police would record statements from the man soon and initial investigations revealed that the suspect had several nude photographs of the 37-year-old politician in his possession.

"We will be also calling a journalist, who informed the Bukit Lanjan assemblyperson about her nude photographs yesterday. So I hope everyone will be patient until we complete our investigations," he told a press conference here today.

Arjunaidi said the police have yet to receive the nude pictures and that it was too early to determine whose image actually appeared in the photographs.

He confirmed Wong had lodged a police report at the Damansara police station in Petaling Jaya at about 11.05 pm yesterday after a journalist informed her about the circulation of the photographs.

"However, the report was not complete as she was only informed by a third person (journalist) on the circulation of nude photographs. She (Wong) told the police the photographs were taken when she was sleeping.

"I would like to advise those having the nude photographs to surrender them to the police and assist us in our investigations," he said, adding that police were investigating the case under Section 292 of the Penal Code for possessing pornographic materials.

Stand by Wong

Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim in a media statement said the Pakatan Rakyat state government would stand by Wong.

"For the past 11 months she has carried out her duties diligently and I have confidence that she will continue to perform her duties and responsibilities in serving her constituents as (a state assemblyperson) and an exco.

"YB Elizabeth has a right to privacy in her personal life and that should be respected by all. My other exco colleagues and I will give her support during these trying times," he said.

He added that he believed "some irresponsible parties" would use the issue for political mileage.

"I appeal to the public not to make hasty judgments prior to full police investigations," Khalid said, adding that the matter would be discussed at the state executive council meeting on 18 Feb.

Meanwhile, MCA Wanita national chairperson Chew Mei Fun, in a statement said they empathised with Wong.

"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.

"We condemn the actions ... because the taking of photographs of bodily parts without their consent or knowledge is against the law and punishable under the Penal Code (Act 574)," she said.

She added: "We would like to advise all women to be cautious. We also urge the government to strictly enforce implementation of the Act which provides for punitive measures so that it becomes a real deterrent against such detestable behavior."

"I am a victim"

Meanwhile, in a press statement released today, Wong explained that she is a victim in a brewing scandal involving the circulation of photographs and video clips featuring her in the nude.

"I am a victim in this incident," the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) politician said in a press statement today.

"The distribution and publication of these photos/video is a malicious attack on my personality.

"This constitutes a gross outrage on my modesty, a gross invasion of my privacy, and in particular the sanctity of my personal life," Wong, who is the first-time assemblyperson.

She condemned the distribution of the photos and videos, said to record Wong "asleep in partial nudity and also in intimate positions", which have been circulating via MMS. The photos were also made available to several publications, including the Malay Mail and theSun.

Wong, a former human rights activist turned politician, is also Wanita PKR information chief. In the Pakatan Rakyat-led Selangor government, she is the exco in charge of tourism, environment and consumer affairs.

Wong's statement revealed that Malay Mail journalists contacted her on 13 Feb to inform her of the paper's plan to publish a story about the photos.

Early reports indicated that the photos were taken without Wong's consent. She lodged a police report yesterday.

"I will fully co-operate with the police ... I will therefore not speculate publicly about those responsible," she said, adding that it was done by unscrupulous persons to "embarrass and discredit" her.

Wong said she would continue discharging her duties as assemblyperson in her constituency.

"I have received a lot of support from my supporters, friends, colleagues and members of my constituency. I wish to thank them for their concern, support and encouragement.

"My family members are standing behind me. I would like to appeal to the media to give me and my family members some breathing space in this trying time so that I can weather this huge challenge," she said.

Politically motivated

PKR information chief Tian Chua, in a statement earlier today, speculated that the salacious revelations were politically motivated.

"I do not discount the possibility that this is part of a plot to tarnish the image of the Pakatan Rakyat," Chua said, citing the case of former Kedah state assemblyperson V Arumugam as another example of a victim of a smear campaign.

"I appeal to the public not to be influenced by these tactics that are designed to shift attention away from core social and economic issues," Chua added.

In KUALA LUMPUR, Bernama reports that Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, when asked about it at Parliament's lobby, said the matter should be left to the police to investigate.

Members of Parliament when asked about it during a break in Parliament's sitting today, had varied comments on it.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz said something like this should not have happened to an elected representative like Wong and it did not augur well for her.

Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said spreading such pictures was unethical but Malaysians should also maintain a lifestyle that reflected Eastern values.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said in this age of technology, leaders irrespective of whether they were from the government or opposition, needed to be careful about their movements.

"If it is true (the case involves Wong), the people will be the best judge," he said.

Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said although it may be a personal issue, it was better for Wong to resign as exco and state assemblyperson as it would be difficult for her to discharge her duties henceforth.

Teresa Kok (DAP-Seputeh), who is a senior Selangor exco, said it was not necessary for Wong to resign as the circulation of the pictures was the work of irresponsible people.

PKR vice president, R Sivarasa said the case involved invasion of a person's privacy where the pictures had fallen into the hands of irresponsible people - The Nut Graph.