Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Come on, Eli, stick to your guns!

Dearest Eli,

I recall with pleasure bumping into you at the old Actors Studio Theatre at Dataran Merdeka in 1998 when you were stage managing Huzir Sulaiman's explosive satire, Atomic Jaya. You told me you had gone to the same church in Jalan Imbi as my daughters and I thought it ironic that only moments earlier I had thought you were eminently dateable!

When we next met it was at the Suaram office where the battle to halt the Selangor Dam project had its headquarters. I was impressed with the missionary fervor with which you set about coordinating our efforts to preserve the magnificent Selangor River valley and save it from being inundated by the money-grubbing marauders from Gamuda.

Over the years, I harbored the hope of someday seeing you take a more prominent role in politics. You have all the necessary attributes of a brilliant legislator - street savvy coupled with an inquisitive mind, quick-witted, sharp-tongued and unstoppable in your zeal. Most importantly, you espoused all the right causes: conserving the natural environment, protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, and making a stand for accountable government.

Imagine my joy when I learnt you had joined PKR and were standing for elections in GE12. Your victory at the polls came as no surprise and was celebrated by all your friends and admirers. I couldn't believe how fortunate those of us living in Selangor were, to have Elizabeth Wong as ADUN. I was particularly tickled by the prospect of being able to SMS my ADUN and send her an occasional email. Eli, you were the harbinger of a new dawn in Malaysian politics. For the first time in history, we would be dealing with good people like you, Sivarasa Rasiah and Tian Chua (whom I regard as valued friends) and many others I have yet to meet but for whom I already have high regard because they come across as sincere, dedicated, approachable representatives of the people who, although new in politics, bring with them a refreshing idealism and genuine belief in democratic principles.

What a dramatic change from the cynical, corrupt and jaded BN politicians we have come to know and loathe - those arrogant, self-important hypocrites and liars like Khir Toyo, Muhammad Muhammad Taib, Tengku Adnan Mansor, Hishamuddin Hussein, Syed Hamid Albar and Najib Razak.

Elizabeth Wong in action as Selangor executive councillor: totally impressive!

Anyway, it seems to me totally absurd and outrageous that you should quit just because you had the misfortune to date the wrong guy. I don't know who the creep is, Eli, but what he did was the absolute pits. I just received an SMS saying he was a Malay guy and that he's now hiding in Indonesia, after receiving an undisclosed amount for handing the photos he took over to a party best left unnamed - but most of us have a pretty good idea who in Selangor desperately wants to see you out of the exco.

In any case, it's high time we stopped being such disgusting hypocrites. Are there parents out there with unmarried daughters in their late 20s or 30s who seriously object to their having boyfriends or going on casual dates? Good heavens, arranged marriages went out with the telex machine (though I know quite a few couples who got hitched by special arrangement, and I personally think there's nothing wrong with sticking to age-old tradition, so long as you don't attempt to impose your conservatism on others).

Being a parliamentarian is not akin to taking an oath of celibacy!

If you happened to be an ordained nun and were caught sneaking a man into your bedroom, I'd have a real good giggle, that's about it. Even so, I'd hardly be bothered about your private affairs - apart from a moment's regret that you seem totally immune to my charms. Let's be honest, I can't think of any red-blooded male who wouldn't relish the thought of accepting an invitation to coffee in your apartment! And that's precisely why you were targeted by the anti-Pakatan faction.

These despicable lowlifers simply can't tolerate seeing a brainy, beautiful - and sexy - Chinese woman doing so well in politics. Because they have so little self-control - and because many of them are descended from brigands - they probably would love to abduct and gangbang you. And if they can't do that, they'll destroy your political career. I'm sure Teresa Kok knows exactly how yucky it feels to be their target. Like Teresa, you have very rapidly shown yourself to be exactly the kind of exco the people have been waiting for since Merdeka. Somebody who's quick on the uptake, committed to serving the people who voted you in, endowed with enough intelligence, integrity and stamina to undertake the Herculean task of cleaning up the nightmarish mess Khir Toyo and his precedessors left behind in Selangor.

Well, I'm glad the PKR top brass has been so supportive and sympathetic. I'm not sure why Khalid Ibrahim thinks it's necessary to consult the Sultan of Selangor about your case. Why put the poor guy in a tight spot? He's still unmarried but I'm willing to bet he lost his virginity ages ago! Let's not become a nation of pretend prudes and hypocrites. Being asexual in no way makes anyone morally superior to those with an active sex life. True, as a public figure in a country rife with sexual hypocrisy and medieval mores, one has to be a great deal more circumspect about one's private life (another reason why I'm reluctant to ever get into full-time politics!).

Photo from Malaysiakini

I would hate to see such a brilliant and promising career as yours derailed by gutter politics. Please, please don't allow yourself to be traumatized by this unfortunate episode, Eli. It would please me greatly to hear that Anwar and the PKR leadership have rejected your resignation. Now more than ever, we need good people in the Pakatan Rakyat government. I know things look rather grim at the moment. It's just Najib's way of exposing his weaknesses as a potential leader - only totally degenerate Scumno types would applaud Najib's brand of sleazy backroom wheeling and dealing. It might take a miracle or two - but I know in my bones Umno will soon be extinct.

So stay vibrant and dedicated and diligent and fun-loving and sexy the way we all love you.

Here's something by Farish Noor I'll append to this post. Farish voices how a great many of us feel, but I don't agree with his referring to you as a "former ADUN." Elizabeth Wong, you're too good an ADUN to lose at this early stage of the game. I've received a lot of SMSes from friends who want me to tell you: DON'T QUIT!

Elizabeth Wong and Our Hope for a New Politics in Malaysia

By Farish A. Noor ~ February 17th, 2009

As someone who has known Ms Elizabeth Wong, former ADUN and Exco member of the Selangor state government, for almost ten years, I am profoundly distressed by the treatment that has been meted out to her by the mainstream and tabloid press over the revelation of photos that have compromised her. There are no words adequate enough to describe my feelings of disgust and anger over how this capable and committed activist-politician has been slandered and abused recently.

The facts surrounding the case are well known by now and one need not dwell upon them here. Suffice to say that one of the brightest, most capable and efficient politicians of our land has been discredited via a malicious campaign to tarnish her reputation, that reeks of hypocrisy and conspiracy of the highest order.

What needs to be emphasised in the midst of this media hullabaloo is this: That the private lives of politicians are as sacrosanct as the right of any other citizen, and that politicians deserve the same degree of respect as anyone else. This is what we are fighting for; and this is what the elections of March 2008 were all about: Our earnest wish to see a new kind of politics in Malaysia, a new politics that would reflect and mirror the new Malaysian society that we live in today.

The ascendancy of Ms Wong and a host of other younger politicians who were elected to office last March signalled – in the clearest terms – the desire for change and reform. Malaysians of all creeds, races and gender have demonstrated that we are sick and tired of the old mode of neo-feudal communitarian politics which has hitherto been propped up by nothing more than an assembly of tired and outdated clich├ęs. We yearn for a new Malaysia that is colour-blind, anti-racist, anti-sexist, democratic, tolerant and plural. We yearn for a new generation of professional politicians who can do their job well in the spirit of accountability and transparency. We yearn, in short, for a new political culture altogether.

Ms. Wong’s election to office demonstrated that a significant section of her constituents had faith in her abilities to translate those ideals into reality and political praxis. They voted her into power because they believed that this was a woman who would stand by the rights of all her constituents; who would further a politics of inclusivity and non-communitarianism, and that she would also foreground the needs and concerns of women as well. The proof of this is evident to all who have followed her career that has now been tragically cut short: as an advocate for gender equality, her presence in the state assembly of Selangor has ensured that the sexist culture that was so prevalent in the past ceased to continue. During the Bukit Antarabangsa landslide tragedy she was one of the few politicians who was seen present at the ground-level doing relief work while some other politicians merely procrastinated and pontificated while doing nothing.

The unfortunate turn of events that has led to her resignation has therefore robbed us – the Malaysian public – of one of the few capable elected representatives that we could count on; and the loss is that of the Malaysian public’s as much as it is hers.

Today as Malaysia heads into a recession under the febrile leadership of old politicians who remain in a state of denial, we are in need of a younger generation of elected representatives whose political orientation and political culture are different: Elizabeth did not lead, she represented. And she gave a voice to the voiceless who clamoured for attention on her behalf. Her passing out of political life – which I personally hope will be temporary – has been a blow to our common struggle for a better, newer Malaysia. It is my earnest wish that despite the setbacks she has suffered, Elizabeth Wong will continue in the struggle for a better and newer Malaysia in whatever capacity that she can.

Pic courtesy of Knights Templar

This struggle for a new Malaysia and a new Malaysian politics is our common struggle, the struggle of the new generation of Malaysians today. One of us among our ranks has been attacked and fallen. We owe it to her as a friend and comrade to support her now, and to remain focused on the pressing need to reform the old order of our authoritarian, racist, communitarian past and its attendant institutions.

[The Malay Mail, to its credit, did post a clear-thinking editorial condemning the sort of sleazy politics this country has descended to as we navigate the treacherous waters between the old and new political paradigms.]