Elizabeth Wong, the persecuted politician, goes overseas. Below is the report taken from Mkini (emphasis mine):
Embattled Wong goes overseas
Feb 19, 09 4:02pm
Elizabeth Wong, the Bukit Lanjan assemblyperson and Selangor executive councillor currently embroiled in a nude photographs controversy, today left the country for an undisclosed location overseas.
Wong also confirmed her determination to relinquish all her posts, despite the numerous calls for her to change her mind.
In a statement released to the press, Wong said, “This is the darkest episode in my life. I have never felt so alone, vulnerable and humiliated. I need to rest and to search for peace of mind to get away from the stormy events surrounding me.
“I have informed my party leaders that I am determined to relinquish all my positions, as a Selangor state exco member as well as the state assemblywoman for Bukit Lanjan.”
Wong on Tuesday offered to resign from her state cabinet post and state assembly seat after nude photographs of her were distributed in public. She has since lodged a police report, seeking an investigation into the matter.
It is believed that the photographs were taken while she was sleeping and without her consent.
Although Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar yesterday said police will record a statement from Wong’s former boyfriend, she warned that the controversy was far from over.
“I have been informed that they will continue to publish even more lewd graphical, sensational stories of my private life. I have also been told there will be a fresh assault, with more photographs and videos released and circulated in order to completely degrade and bury me,” Wong said.
However, the former lover has gone missing and is believed to be overseas.
In a moving SMS message to her close friends today, Wong wrote: “Please remember me as the person I was, not what they are now making me to be.”
Wong’s statement in full
I have departed today.
Despite having tendered my resignation from all posts, the media and websites continue to intrude into my private life and privacy. I have been informed by several media that they will continue to publish even more lewd graphical, sensational stories of my private life.
I have also been told there will be a fresh assault, with more photographs and videos released and circulated in order to completely degrade and bury me.
This is the darkest episode in my life. I have never felt so alone, vulnerable and humiliated. I need to rest and to search for peace of mind to get away from the stormy events surrounding me.
I appreciate the overwhelming support from all quarters, especially my voters, women in particular and party comrades. Words cannot express my gratitude for your gentle kindness.
I have informed my party leaders that I am determined to relinquish all my positions, as a Selangor state exco member as well as the state assemblywoman for Bukit Lanjan. I am thankful for the party leadership’s concern and encouragement. I seek their understanding for my predicament.
My commitment to the ideals of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat remains unwavering. I shall retain my party membership and continue to struggle for a just society with the party.
The nation is at a crisis facing a serious economic recession. Unemployment is rising, while corruption remains rampant. I wish public discussions would concentrate on these important issues rather than analysing my private life.
My principle remains the same – I will not answer any questions pertaining to my private life. My private life is not for public scrutiny as I have not broken any law or caused harm to anyone.
I plead to the media as well as my supporters to allow me some peace of mind, and to give me space. I urge the media to leave my family, friends and I alone. Please do not continue to shame my family and I, so that we have a chance to lead a normal life as ordinary citizens.
Lastly, I wish to thank the support from the public that has been pouring in ceaselessly. I am very moved and eternally grateful to my friends and colleagues who stand by me. There is nothing in this world that can repay your kindness.
Violence against women? While I respect her wishes to not be harassed, and personal views from many who say her sacrifice is not unexpected nor is it out of character (article reproduced below), I have only this to say;
Ms Wong, your constituents elected you to do a job. Don’t resign now, and don’t give up. You may be firm on your resignation, and your reasons are selfless, but I believe there is a higher meaning to it.
As I write the end of this post (which is mainly copy paste, and I apologise for it), UVERworld’s “Live everyday as if it were the last day” plays on my Winamp. And I believe that carries a strong message in itself;
Live it as you will, Ms Wong.
Flowers for Eli
Sim Kwang Yang | Feb 19, 09 1:06pm
I would never dream of the day when I have to undertake this most unsavoury task of commenting on an ugly business involving my friend Eli, as YB Elizabeth Wong would like to be known by her friends.
But she has become a public figure of note, being a state assemblywoman and a Selangor executive councillor.
In the past few days, she has made headlines, and there are tons of public comments on her in both the mainstream media and the Internet.
Some comments were extremely gossipy, cynical, and vicious against her. I hope Eli can excuse me for coming to her defence. at a time when she probably wants public attention to be turned away from her person.
I met Eli for the first time less than 10 years ago when she enrolled in a philosophy class that I taught to working adults at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur.
In a class of some very thoughtful and critical mature individuals, she stood out as a feisty radical voice despite her demure appearance.
I encouraged debate in class, and she was often engaged in very passionate political or philosophical arguments with other members of her group. I was particularly impressed with her commitment to her cause for justice.
A pioneer in social activism
During breaks, I would chat with her. She said she studied abroad, (Australia), and that she had been involved very actively in one NGO or another.
Immediately, I recognise her as one of those young people who had chosen to plunge in as the new frontline pioneers in social activism in Malaysia, rather than pursuing a life-long career in the private sector.
Her current personal assistant, Lee Kai Lun, is another example; he had spent the good part of his 20s organising university students throughout the country.
I saw Eli and her contemporaries then, as I still do now, as the new hope of Malaysia.
Too many of our youths of all races have been seduced by this Malaysian Dream. Get a university degree or two, get a well-paid job, build up a career, find a partner with comparable education and income, get married, buy a house and two cars, and have children.
There is nothing much wrong with the Malaysian Dream I suppose. We do need a productive prosperous middle class as the pillar of our socio-economic growth and political stability.
But given the rigor mortis of our political system, we also need to breathe new life into it.
As old timers in the defence and promotion of democracy are burn out one by one, or continue to fight on despite their set old ways, we need badly the emergence of younger generations of social and political activists, who would choose serving the greater Malaysian future, rather than the personal future of career and family.
The personal sacrifice is worth it
Dedication to the Malaysian community in the political wilderness at the fringes of power-play always incurs great personal sacrifice.
Some of these budding talents have approached me for advice when they have doubts about their chosen path, and I have always given my two cents’ worth: such personal sacrifice is worth it. A life lived in service to others is a life well worth living.
My philosophy class ended because the rental for the lecture hall became prohibitively expensive. But Eli kept in touch with me once every so often in the following years.
When I was teaching the compulsory Ethics class in the New Era College, I invited Eli and her colleagues in the NGOs to give a public lecture on human rights to the 700 or so students. When the class ended, I shared a delightful train ride with her from the Kajang Station back to KL city centre.
Then a publisher approached me with the proposal of publishing a collection of my Malaysiakini column articles into a book. I needed a good editor, and someone recommended Eli; her credential was putting together a very readable book of Farish A Noor’s essays.
I asked Eli’s help and she consented. Unfortunately for her effort, the project did not materialise.
One day, she phoned to ask me about a point in parliamentary proceedings. It was then that I learned that she was working as a personal assistant to Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, PKR president and a prominent opposition MP.
In the 2006 Sarawak state general elections, she phoned me out of the blue. She was in Kuching, campaigning for the PKR candidate in Padungan, Dominique Ng. We exchanged notes briefly. I am sure she was as happy as I was that Dominique won against all odds.
Gutter journalism & sewer politics
Later, I was happy to see her elected as a state assemblywoman and appointed to an important position in the Pakatan Rakyat Selangor state government after the March 8, 2008 general election.
After so many years of agitating on the sidelines of power, she was finally in the position to put her idealistic enthusiasm to good use. The seeds of political talent that I saw less than 10 years ago have finally found fruition.
And yet, even then, I was worried for her. I knew she has the intellect and the heart for the job; she had spent a greater part of her adult life preparing for it. But could she, with her political innocence, withstand the stench and sewage that fill the Malaysian political cesspool?
How would she cope with the bureaucratic power-play launched by the senior officials in her state government to manipulate and domesticate her?
I called Eli just a few weeks ago, wishing her happy Chinese New Year, suggesting that we get together some time soon. Then this business blew up in our face, and poor Eli has been made a victim of gutter journalism and sewer politics! I cringe at Eli’s private anguish.
As far as I am concerned, Eli is a victim and she has done no wrong. She is a single lady. What she does with her own time in the privacy of her home is none of anybody’s business.
Her plight is a reminder to all public female figures that – given the modern-day surveillance technology – what has happened to Eli can also happen to anyone.
It is also an indication of our backward state of gender relation, in which the female person as a sex object still sells newspapers in Malaysia and becomes the hottest topic for voyeuristic gossip.
Resignation not official yet
Naturally, since she has done no wrong, she need not resign from her public offices.
But politics is a complex business. Pakatan is facing two crucial by-elections, and we can be sure that Barisan Nasional people are going on a smear campaign against Eli Wong in an attempt to destroy the credibility of the Pakatan campaigns in those by-elections.
So she has offered to resign from her positions in a dignified and eloquent manner. In one single stroke, she has turned the table on Umno, from one of potentially humiliating embarrassment to one of holding her moral high ground.
I notice that her letter of resignation has been tended to the menteri besar of Selangor, and not to the speaker of the Selangor state legislature. So her resignation is not all that official yet. The advice from her party and government leaders to take leave is sound.
Meanwhile, it is a credit to Malaysians that politicians and the people at large across the political spectrum have expressed very strong support for Eli, and the waves of expression of sympathy for her unfortunate plight is again an encouraging sign of maturing political judgement among present-day Malaysians.
One thing is comforting to know though: Eli’s relative young age. I am certain she will weather this mini-storm and rise to fight another battle in this long war for change and democracy. Her whole political life is still ahead of her. You just cannot put a good woman down.
Meanwhile, I watch with some alarm the development in the court that is hearing the appeal on Raja Petra Kamarudin’s ISA release.
I cannot comment on the merits or demerits of an on-going trial, so we just have to wait and see whether RPK will be sent back to Kamunting or not. It is a very uncomfortable and anxious wait.
In any process of critical historic change in any society, people in power will resist change by all means fair and foul so as to protect their privileged positions and their vested interest.
Many warriors on the frontline will fall from snipers’ bullets. Those in the back must always prepare themselves to step forward.
But change we will.