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Malaysian politician offers to quit over nude photos

world Updated: Feb 18, 2009 01:14 IST
Malaysian politician offers to quit over nude photos

A prominent Malaysian opposition politician tearfully offered her resignation on Tuesday after photos of her in the nude were circulated to the media.

Elizabeth Wong, one of Malaysia's top human rights activists, blamed government "gutter politics" for the release of the images, which reportedly show her sleeping in her bedroom.

Newspaper reports have speculated that the images may have been taken by a former boyfriend.

"I wish to state that I am not ashamed of my sexuality as a woman and a single person. I have broken no laws. I stand by the fundamental principle in a democracy that everyone has a right to privacy," she told a press conference.

The photographs, which are circulating via mobile phones but have not yet been published in the media, have caused a political storm in Malaysia, which is a conservative and predominantly Muslim country.

Wong, a bespectacled 37-year-old who is not married, is a well-known member of the multiracial Keadilan party led by Anwar Ibrahim, who helms the three-member Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance.

She has won support from both sides of the political divide, including from women in the Barisan Nasional coalition and the Pakatan Rakyat.

But there have also been calls for her to quit her seat in the Selangor state assembly, which the opposition won for the first time in general elections a year ago.

"She is a single person. How can she allow a man into her room when they are not married? What's the status of the relationship," said Mohamad Khir Toyo, the former Barisan Nasional chief minister of Selangor.

Keadilan officials said that Anwar would make an announcement later Tuesday on whether Wong's resignation would be accepted, triggering a by-election which would not affect the balance of power in Selangor.

They said on condition of anonymity that they feared other more compromising pictures may emerge unless Wong stood down.

"I believe that these attacks will continue with greater intensity," Wong told the press conference, adding that Barisan Nasional would "continue to manipulate the situation."

"Accordingly I have decided to make a stand in the interests of the party and its struggle for the people," she said, as a group of supporters holding flowers and banners yelled their support.