Whos behind Elizabeth Wong sabotage?

by Ahirudin Attan

THE scandal over the seminude photographs of a state minister from the opposition- run state of Selangor has taken on a life of its own.

It is no longer an issue of personal betrayal or intrusion of privacy, which was Miss Elizabeth Wong's contention when she lodged a police report over the photos. She said they had been taken without her consent and while she was asleep in the privacy of her own home.

The talk in some circles is now of political sabotage.

The story of a spurned former lover is not enough for many Malaysians. Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim says Umno - the backbone of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that rules the country - is behind the distribution of the photos.

He accuses Umno of trying to embarrass him and his party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

Anwar has rejected Miss Wong's offer to resign from all her party posts.

A Member of Parliament, Mr Jeff Ooi, has speculated on his blog that Miss Wong is a victim of very clever and deceitful politics involving "Trojan horses".

Mr Ooi is from the Democratic Action Party (DAP), part of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition that Anwar leads.

According to him, this isn't the first time that PKR has been struck by political sabotage.

He was alluding to the allegation by young Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan that he had been sodomised by Anwar (the case is still pending trial).

He wrote on his blog: "Elizabeth Wong's predicament indicates the second time PKR's home-defence system may have been breached by "Trojan horses"."

Both cases involved individuals who had volunteered to work as party aides, he explained.

Anwar and Mr Ooi may think they are doing Miss Wong a favour, but they could have further harmed her reputation instead.

Already, Umno leaders who had initially asked the opposition to avoid politicising the scandal are now concocting their own brew in response to Anwar's allegation.

For example, one adviser to a senior Umno politician told me that Miss Wong is a victim of infighting within PKR, between the Menteri Besar and someone close to Anwar.

"It has nothing to do with us, just like their state assemblyman's marriage (scandal) had nothing to do with us," he said.

He was referring to a recent scandal where a PKR state minister in Kedah quit over allegations of bigamy. A by-election for his Bukit Selambau constituency will be held on April 7.

Whether it is a political set-up or a personal betrayal, Miss Wong's scandal has become another thorn in PR's flesh.

Less than a year after its emphatic electoral performance on March 8 last year - when it took five states from BN and denied it a two-thirds majority in Parliament - the coalition that unites PKR, DAP and the Islamic Parti Islam (PAS) has suffered one blow after another.

So far, PR has weathered the storm pretty well. It has already won two by-elections in a row.

But the Bukit Selambau, and another by-election for Bukit Gantang, come with their own unique controversies.

Umno leaders are already publicising the Bukit Gantang by-election as a PKR attempt to pit its popularity against the Sultan of Perak.

Meanwhile, seasoned political observers believe that Anwar is trying to avoid a third by-election, which would have to be held if he accepts Miss Wong's resignation.

"Three by-elections in three states won by PR in the last election would be a tough call. The issues are not all in the opposition's favour," said one pundit.

At the same time, politicising the scandal between Miss Wong and her former lover will encourage more worms to crawl out of the woodwork.

Already, some quarters are needling PAS leaders to state their stand, as her former lover is a Malay-Muslim and therefore subject to Islamic laws.

When Dr Chua Soi Lek's "sex video" circulated just months before last year's general election, he, too, said it was political sabotage.

But he resigned from all posts and came back later to win his party's deputy presidency (he was only a vice-president before the scandal).

When Dr Chua was down and almost out at the time, Miss Wong wrote in her blog that the only crime committed in the "sex video" scandal was by those who installed cameras in his hotel room.

Dr Chua has returned the favour. He told Miss Wong that her hard work and steadfastness would prevail.


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