PETALING JAYA, 17 Feb 2009: Riding on its scandalised assemblyperson Elizabeth Wong, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has started stumping for the 7 April by-elections in Bukit Gantang, Perak, and Bukit Selambau, Kedah.
At Wong’s press conference today where she announced her resignation as the Bukit Lanjan elected representative and as a Selangor executive councillor, PR did not hesitate to blame the Barisan Nasional (BN) for the circulation of Wong’s nude pictures.
The BN was blamed even though the source and those responsible for circulating the pictures have not been identified.
By depicting Wong as a victim of political assassination, the opposition coalition also depicted itself as the victim of the BN’s “gutter politics” to regain control of seats lost to PR in the March 2008 general election.
“We know that what has happened is clearly politically motivated. We call upon the people of Malaysia to reject the gutter politics that is being practised by the BN.
Sivarasa“This must stop, and we hope that in the by-elections to come, in Perak, in Kedah, and in Selangor [assuming Wong's resignation is accepted], the people of Malaysia will send the BN a clear message,” Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) vice-president R Sivarasa said today.
He and other PR component party leaders, mainly from the women’s wings, were present at Wong’s press conference.
Wong, 37, is from PKR. Before joining politics, she was active as a human rights and environmental activist.
“All tactics possible”
PKR women’s wing chief Zuraidah Kamaruddin said the BN was using “all tactics possible” to regain power instead of focusing on key issues like corruption and the economy. “They are wasting their time on this,” she said.
PAS women’s wing chief Noridah Salleh said the attack on Wong showed that “the BN cannot accept defeat. They know they are no longer a viable coalition, so they will try all sorts of ways to bring down a government elected by the people.”
“There may be more that they will do to us and to Eli. We hope the people will support us to bring the BN’s downfall,” Noridah said.
Teresa Kok DAP Wanita national secretary Teresa Kok said Wong should reconsider her resignation because she was being victimised.
“This invasion of privacy can happen to anyone of us, especially to us female assemblypersons. Ever since we took over the state government, almost each and every exco in Pakatan has been picked on an attacked by the Umno media.
“And now it’s the turn of Eli Wong,” said Kok, who is Member of Parliament for Seputeh, Kinrara assemblyperson and Wong’s colleague in the state exco.
Irene Fernandez PKR supreme council members Dr Xavier Jayakumar, the Seri Andalas assemblyperson, and Irene Fernandez said the incident was a clear message to Malaysians to reject the BN in the elections.
“The people and the press should take cognisance of today’s politics and the direction that Malaysia is taking in terms of democracy.
“If there is going to be a new prime minister, and if this is the way politics is going to be done, we will hold all of you responsible if you do not play your part and bring the message that this gutter politics is not part and parcel of the way of Malaysians,” Xavier said.
Fernandez said the expose on Wong’s private life was a form of violence against women.
“Gutter politics that abuses women is a form of violence that cannot be accepted. It should not be the basis for her resignation because we consider it a violation of privacy,” she said.
Wong herself, reading from a prepared statement, predicted that the onslaught by the BN against PR politicians would continue.
“PKR stands for ‘new’ politics that holds justice and human rights as core values. It is precisely because of this that I believe these attacks will continue with greater intensity, and I have no doubt that Umno and the BN will continue to manipulate the situation,” she said.
About a dozen supporters, claiming to be Bukit Lanjan constituents, were present during the press conference. They reacted in shock when Wong announced her resignation, shouting, “Why should you resign, you are a victim!” and “Don’t be a quitter!”
The supporters held hand-scrawled posters which read, “YB Eli, don’t give in to your enemies” and “We support you”. One even brought flowers and a teddy bear.
The press, however, were disappointed that they were not allowed to ask questions after Wong and the other leaders had finished giving their statements.