Updated on 15 April 2009 at 8.05pm
PETALING JAYA, 15 April 2009: Elizabeth Wong will remain as a Selangor executive councillor and Bukit Lanjan assemblyperson.
“This is the hardest decision that I have [had] to make in my life and it is with the greatest humility that I accept the Selangor state’s offer to remain in office,” Wong said in a statement issued just before 5pm today.
The Selangor government earlier today asked her to stay on in both positions on the basis that Wong remained the victim in the leak of intimate photos of her which caused her to volunteer her resignation on 17 Feb.
The state government’s offer was for her to resume her duties immediately, as her leave, which has twice been extended, expires today.
In a statement today, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said Wong, 37, should resume her duties because of public interest and the fact that police have yet to conclude investigations into the circulation of her photos.
At a press conference earlier today, Khalid was reported to have said that the state government still believed that Wong was a victim in the incident.
Khalid said the exco was unanimous in its decision that Wong should resume her duties.
The Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has been briefed on the exco’s decision, Khalid said. He thanked the ruler for not interfering in political decisions and for entrusting the state government with the decision.
Khalid also vowed that the state Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government took a serious view of morality but that there had to be evidence of wrongdoing. At the same time, the state was equally committed to protecting the right to privacy, the menteri besar added.
Wong has been on leave since tendering her resignation. She said she did it for the sake of her party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat. However, Wong remains hugely popular with her constituents. On 12 April, some 200 people gathered at her service centre in Bandar Utama to demonstrate their support of her.
Some of the 200 Eli Wong supporters at her service centre in Bandar Utama (Pic by Wong Chin Huat)
The PR has appeared to drag its feet over whether to accept her resignation because of her popularity and for fear of having to hold another by-election in her state constituency.
With Wong’s decision, the PR is able to avoid another by-election after being involved in three on 7 April.
It remains unclear who leaked the photos and how the person had access to Wong’s private album. While the PR has blamed the leak on the “gutter politics” of Barisan Nasional (BN), there is also speculation that internal strife within PKR had a role to play.
Wong’s statement that she would remain in office condemned gutter politics, but was devoid of any references to the BN.
Police are also keen to question her former boyfriend about the photos but have not found him. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Sexualised politics rejected
The Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG) today welcomed the Selangor government’s decision.
“This decision to reject (Wong’s) resignation, is a validation of her capabilities as a politician, as well as a rejection of increasingly sexualised politicking that render young, women politicians such as Wong more vulnerable to attacks on the basis of so-called ‘morality’,” Haslinah Yacob said in a statement on behalf of JAG.
JAG also commended Wong for her perseverance and commitment in continuing to serve the people of Selangor.