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Thursday, April 16, 2009

> Wong to remain as exco, state rep

Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim today announced that embattled politician Elizabeth Wong will remain as both executive councillor as well as Bukit Lanjan assemblyperson.

"The Selangor government today decided that Elizabeth Wong should resume her duties ... with immediate effect," Khalid told a press conference today. 

And Wong later in the day accepted the Selangor state's offer to remain in office.

According to Khalid, Wong’s resignation for the two posts has been rejected by the state government.

"The state government believes this is an appropriate and fair decision after taking into consideration views from all quarters, public interest and the fact that police investigations have to date failed to reach a conclusion," he said.

"She is a victim of the (nude photo) incident," stressed Khalid.

The menteri besar also added that the Selangor sultan has been briefed of the exco's decision.

"On behalf of the state government and the people of Selangor, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to his majesty for his stand not to interfere in political decisions, thus entrusting the state government to make a fair and just decision.

"It has to be stressed that morality is of utmost importance to this Pakatan Rakyat government and we will ensure that this principle is strictly adhered to," he added.

Wong agrees to stay

Khalid was also quick to point out that should there be any conclusive evidence of any wrongdoing, the state government will not hesitate to the necessary action.

"However, it must be added that the state government is equally concerned in protecting the rights to privacy and will do its utmost to protect that right," he said.

Wong, whose leave is due to end tomorrow, issued a statement at 4.45pm today that she agreed to resume her duties.

"This is the hardest decision that I have to make in my life and it is with the greatest humility that I accept the Selangor state's offer to remain in office," she said in her statement.

She also thanked everyone - from her constituents to the menteri besar and the state exco, her lawyers, the police and the Selangor sultan - for their guidance and support.

"These past two months have been more than an ordeal, one which I would never have wished for any citizen to have to suffer through.

"I have been stripped bare publicly - both figuratively and literally - by force and against my will. My personal life has been violated and assaulted by none other than criminals. Even up to this evening, I continue to receive threats from unknown persons," she said, adding that gutter politics should not be part of our political culture.

She said that she now wished to serve her constituents and the state to the best of her abilities.

"The struggle continues, and our work has just begun," she added.

A collective agreement

According to Khalid, the nine members of the executive council which met this morning collectively agreed that she should continue as a state cabinet member.

State exco members who attended the press conference with Khalid included Teresa Kok, Ronnie Liu, Xavier Jayakumar, Rodziah Ismail, Ean Yong, Iskandar Abdul Samad and Hassan Ali.

Iskandar, who holds that housing, building development and squatters portfolios, said that it was unfair for the state to make any speculation on Wong until the police completed their investigations.

"But we cannot wait for the police to wrap up their investigation... as right now there is no case to say she is at fault, so we want her back," he said.

Asked whether it was a unanimous decision of the exco to reject Wong's resignation, Iskandar said: "No it was not unanimous, it was the executive council's decision, whether people (exco members) would agree or disagree, it is speculative".

Wong, 37, was thrust into the spotlight following the circulation of her semi-nude photographs, which is now being investigated by the police.

The PKR politician, who was an aide to party president Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, had offered to quit her exco post and as Bukit Lanjan state representative.

She was however asked to go on the leave by the menteri besar.

The police has obtained a warrant of arrest for Wong’s former boyfriend Hilmi Malek, who is wanted for questioning relating to the leaked photos. Hilmi is believed to be in a neighbouring country.

Khir: We will exploit 

Meanwhile, state assembly opposition leader Dr Mohd Khir Toyo today welcomed the state government's decision in asking Wong to return to work tomorrow, adding that it would benefit Barisan National (BN).

Elaborating further, Khir said the decision showed that Pakatan was inconsistent in their values.

He said the decision not to accept Wong's resignation would be a political issue for a long time.

"Thank you (Selangor government) for the decision... we will exploit this issue," Khir told Malaysiakini - Malaysiakini.