Malaysian tourism dragged into a ‘salacious’ affair


KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (eTN) – It’s probably the kind of news that would not turn an eye elsewhere in the world, but in supposedly religiously strict Malaysia, it can be explosive.

Malaysian tourism is being dragged in the news for no other reason than because of a statement by Malaysian Tourism Minister Azalina Othman about Selangor state Tourism Minister Elizabeth Wong regarding the latter’s nude photographs, which have surfaced and consequently caused a bit of a hubbub in the country.

The week started with reports that Selangor Tourism Minister Elizabeth Wong made a police report about her “nude” photos circulating via MMS on mobile phones. “It was taken while I was sleeping,” Wong told authorities. “I am a victim in this incident.”

“The distribution and publication of these photos is a malicious attack on my personality,” she allegedly told police. “It is an outrage of my modesty, a gross invasion of my privacy, and in particular the sanctity of my personal life, taken without my consent,” added Wong, who has held the post for less than a year.

Attitudes on the matter range from comments such as “it does not reflect ‘Eastern’ values” to “it is nothing shameful sleeping in the nude.”

Meanwhile, in a statement, Azalina Othman, the country’s tourism minister, said it may be a personal issue but it was “better” for Wong to resign from her political post as it would be difficult for her to now discharge her duties.

The salacious news has also become a “hot” topic during the country’s current parliament sitting, prompting a minister to remark spreading such pictures is “unethical.”

“It does not augur well for her,” said Nazri Aziz, the country’s law minister. “It should not have happened.”

In a statement to diffuse the issue, Selangor state Chief Minister Khalid Ibrahim said Wong will be asked to explain the matter to party leaders. “We don’t want to know if they are old or new nude pictures. She must explain to us if she is really guilty of having posed, or was involved. We will not hesitate to take action.”

Police spokesman Arjunaidi Mohamad, who is investigating the case, added: “I hope everyone will be patient until we complete our investigations and identify the person responsible for the nude pictures.

“We have yet to receive the nude pictures. I would like to advise those having the nude photos to surrender them to us to assist in our investigations.”

Wong, a human rights activist-turned-politician, had defiantly declared she will continue to discharge her duties as an elected member of the state’s government. “It was done by unscrupulous persons to embarrass and discredit me.”

However, at a media conference on Tuesday, Wong announced she was quitting her post. A tearful Wong told reporters: “’I have done no wrong and I am not ashamed of my sexuality as a woman and as a single person. I have broken no law and everyone has a right to privacy.”