Page last updated at 09:11 GMT, Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Politician in Malaysia nudity row

Elizabeth Wong tearfully offered her resignation at a news conference
Elizabeth Wong tearfully offered her resignation at a news conference

A prominent Malaysian opposition politician has offered her resignation after naked photos of her sleeping were circulated by mobile phone.

Elizabeth Wong, one of Malaysia's top human rights activists, blamed government "gutter politics" for the release of the images.

Newspapers have speculated that the images were taken by an ex-boyfriend.

As a single woman in a conservative society, she has been criticised by male politicians for her independence.

"I wish to state that I am not ashamed of my sexuality as a woman and a single person," Ms Wong, 37, said in an emotional news conference.

"I have broken no laws. I stand by the fundamental principle in a democracy that everyone has a right to privacy," she said.

Gutter politics

Ms Wong is a respected member of the opposition People's Justice Party, led by Anwar Ibrahim, winning her seat in the state assembly of Selangor a year ago.

She has won support from both sides of the political divide, but some political opponents have jumped on the incident.

"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 National Front ex-chief minister of Selangor.

Opposition officials said a decision would be made later on whether to accept the resignation, which would trigger a by-election in Selangor.

Ms Wong said she believed that the governing National Front coalition 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 support.

She said it was "an insidious and under-handed attempt" to smear her reputation, adding that "the real objective is to discredit the party".

This is the latest incident in Malaysian politics to intrude into the private lives of politicians - most of whom have been opposition figures.

The government has denied a role in the scandals.

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