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.

Wanted : Police find Elizabeth Wong former lover

SHAH ALAM: Police are still trying to track down Elizabeth Wong's former lover to assist in investigations.

Police are looking for Hilmi Hazimin Abdul Malek to assist in investigations. Selangor police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said police hoped to contact the ex-boyfriend and record his statement.

He said although they knew his identity, they have yet to contact him.

"We know who he is and are trying to contact him," Khalid said, refusing to reveal the person's identity.

He said police had received two photographs and a disc containing two images after recording statements from four journalists on Tuesday.
The photographs and images on the CD recovered from two of the reporters were the same, said Khalid.

"We will monitor the relevant websites. We have not received any videos and I hope those in possession of the photographs would destroy them immediately or surrender them to the police."

A team from the Forensics Department were at Wong's house in Petaling Jaya yesterday afternoon to conduct investigations.

They were there for more than an hour but refused to speak to reporters when they left at 4.30pm.

Wong also refused to comment, saying that she was leaving the investigations to police.

She also did not want to comment when asked about her former boyfriend.

It was, however, learnt that police were looking for Hilmi Hazimin Abdul Malek, 34, to assist in the investigations.

Hilmi was the former personal assistant to PJ Selatan member of parliament Hee Loy Sian. He worked for Hee for nine months after the election and resigned last month.

Yesterday in Parliament, Hee avoided the press, who were hounding him for information on Hilmi's whereabouts.

When they caught up with him, he refused to comment.

The New Straits Times team visited Hilmi's family home in Ampang Jaya yesterday afternoon and was told by a maid that he had not been seen for more than two weeks.

Prior to the general election last March, Wong had spoken about a man she was close to but refused to divulge his name.

She had complained that they were busy with party work and had little time to meet up.

Party insiders, however, said the couple had a misunderstanding and went their separate ways early this year.

KL police now in charge of Elizabeth Wong nude Pictures case

Kuala Lumpur police has taken over Bukit Lanjan assemblywoman Elizabeth Wong's nude pictures case from the Selangor police, and they will be assisted by Bukit Aman, said Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Wira Mohd Sabtu Osman.

Mohd Sabtu said the switch in venue of the case will not affect the progress and investigations as only the investigation officers are going to be different.

"We will continue the investigations conducted by the Selangor police," he told reporters after opening a community police beat at Precinct 9 here today.

He added that police are in the process of locating Wong's ex-boyfriend who is expected to be a key witness in the case.

"We will look for any witness if required," he said.
Mohd Sabtu said the case is being investigated under Section 509 of the Penal Code on insulting the modesty of a woman, which carries a maximum of five years' jail or fine or both.

Wong, 37, who is also a Selangor state executive councillor, made a police report after her nude pictures, apparently taken by her ex-boyfriend, were distributed on the Internet.