On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Look at issues rationally


A scumbag. And that’s a mild word to describe the person who took and circulated lewd photographs of Selangor state executive councillor and Bukit Lanjan state assemblyman Elizabeth Wong, which caused her downfall.

Her boyfriend, Hilmi Malek, has been blamed for the disgusting action and if the allegations are true, he should be arrested soon and made to face the consequences.

But if Malek, a 32-year-old special assistant to the PJ Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian, has been wrongly accused, he should defend himself.

He is now being regarded as a spurned ex-lover who had wanted to hit back at the 38-year-old novice politician for a relationship that went disastrously wrong. Or worse, as someone who had been paid to carry out a dirty job on her.

In the murky world of politics, Hilmi owes it to his Parti Keadilan Rakyat members to come out with his side of the story.

Unfortunately, Malaysians now have to get used to politicians who flee the country without giving much-needed explanations.

Like in the case of Bukit Selambau assemblyman V. Arumugam, who faces allegations of bigamy. He quit, albeit through a letter sent via a third party, without the decency of explaining his move to his constituency and supporters.

Is he being pressured or threatened by the Barisan Nasional, as his party chiefs are claiming, or is he is just running away from serious personal problems? Unfortunately, the voters who picked him have been left on their own to speculate and in politically partisan Malay­sia, views have become pretty predictable. If you support PKR, his life must surely be in danger and if you are in the Barisan, he is just a bad husband and father.

As for Hilmi, we are told that he is now in Indonesia, and by a strange coincidence, Wong is also said to be in the same country.

Last week, Eli, as the former non-governmental organisation activist is popularly known, described her experience “as the darkest episode of my life” and “I have never felt so alone, vulnerable and humiliated”.

Wong, who has offered to resign from her state exco post and state assemblyman seat, said she had been told that there would be a fresh assault, with more photographs and videos released and circulated.

She said she has left the country “to search for peace of mind and get away from the stormy events surrounding me”.

Wong is not alone. Most Malaysians with any sense of decency and conscience stand by her and are even questioning her decision to quit her posts, however honourable it may be.

Her case cannot be compared with that of MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, who is married and was filmed having sex with another woman. Wong is a mature and single urbanite, serving multi-racial urban constituents who certainly don’t expect her to practise celibacy. They picked a state assembly representative, not a nun.

She is entitled to her personal life and what she does behind closed doors at home is none of anybody’s business. It has nothing to do with her performance as an elected representative.

She has said the photographs were taken when she was asleep, which meant she did not pose for Hilmi or any other person. If she was aware, the situation might take a different dimension but we should take her word for it at this point.

It is not fair for anyone to prejudge her. Who are we to decide on her morality, with all our flaws, weaknesses and sins? Certainly it is not right for any Barisan Nasional supporter to attack her because she is from PKR.

But on that note, the opposition should also not be too quick to blame the circulation of Wong’s revealing photos on the Barisan. It could well be internal sabotage by powerful forces within the PKR who feel that Wong has stood in the way of their agenda.

It has been said that Wong, an uncompromising figure on hill development in Selangor, had stepped on the toes of powerful people in the state, who may have just backed certain politicians.

It is easy for PKR leaders to blame the Barisan for the party’s shortcomings. The two Perak PKR assemblymen, who were arrested and charged with corruption, were defended by party leaders relentlessly, even to the extent of describing their arrests as political sabotage.

But the minute they quit PKR to become Independents, they suddenly became discards and unworthy politicians tainted with corruption. Suddenly, it was a case of good riddance, and good luck to the Barisan for taking in these allegedly corrupt politicians.

For some, the possibility that Wong could be a victim of an ex-lover or a rival politician within the PKR seems far-fetched. It has to be another evil act from the Barisan in the black-and-white world of Malaysian politics. The establishment’s lack of credibility is the cause for such public perception and perception is everything in politics.

We have become too caught up in partisanship. We may not agree with the politics of the Barisan or Pakatan Rakyat but certain issues need to be looked at with a clear mind.

And just because Wong is PKR, she has to be deemed immoral with a questionable lifestyle when we know there are plenty, including those in the Barisan component parties, who project a religiously pious personality but see little wrong in corruption. Not many would want to condemn such immorality.

There’s also a lesson for PAS and its many self-appointed guardians of morality: Do not be too quick to prejudge others. Surely, they too would want to walk with Eli now.

Malaysians need to take a step back and stop looking at issues too emotionally. Partisanship and inability to evaluate issues rationally can tear the nation apart.