Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer resigns over “grave mistake”

Singapore’s guarded image as a clean city took another battering today as the speaker of the parliament resigned after an extramarital affair came to light. ‘I had a relationship with PA staff,’ he admits.

(This letter is real. From Lee Hsien Loong‘s Facebook)

Michael Palmer, 44, a married father of one who was sworn in as Speaker in October 2011, quit today. He also gave up his seat in parliament and membership of the ruling People’s Action Party. Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean, who is PAP‘s 1st Assistant Secretary-General, said the party first came to know about the matter on 8 December.

Mr Teo said Mr Palmer had personally met him to inform him about the matter and of his intention to resign.

Mr Teo agreed that he should do so. “On behalf of the party and of myself, I will like to say to the residents of Punggol East, I am very sorry that we have let the residents of Punggol East down. I assure you that we would put things right and that we will continue to look after you.”

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was informed and he agreed that the resignation would be the proper thing to do.

Mr Teo said Mr Lee met Mr Palmer on Sunday morning and confirmed the decision. Mr Lee directed that the matter be dealt decisively and in an open way.

Mr Teo said in the last two days, arrangements were being made to ensure that residents of Punggol East continue to be taken care of and the transition is done in proper and legal administrative and procedures.

Mr Teo said he has worked with Mr Palmer for more than six years and that he is a hardworking and good MP, who is always caring for his residents and is a good team player.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who was also at the press conference, said Minister of State and Mayor Teo Ser Luck will oversee the Punggol East constituency.

MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Mr Zainal Sapari will be the new chairman of the town council.

Mr Teo said he too will take a personal interest in the welfare of residents of Punggol East.

Mr Teo said the Prime Minister will nominate a new Speaker of Parliament when Parliament next meets.

On the possibility of a by-election, Mr Teo said the Prime Minister will decide if there should be one and when it will take place.

The People’s Association has confirmed that one Ms Laura Ong, a constituency director of Pasir Ris West Constituency Office, has quit.

In a statement on Wednesday night, it said she tendered her resignation on Dec 10, citing family commitments.

“The People’s Association has accepted her resignation,” said the spokesman.

Ms Ong is understood to be the woman whom former Speaker of the House Michael Palmer had an extra-marital affair with.

This is the latest scandal to surface in the city, which recently earned the dubious honor of the being home to the world’s most “emotionless’’ people.

In June this year, the former head of the Singapore police’s drug enforcement unit was charged with corruption for soliciting sexual favors in exchange for help with contracts, court documents showed. Ng Boon Gay, 46, former director of the Central Narcotics Bureau, was charged with “corruptly” obtaining sexual gratification… from one Cecilia Sue Siew Nang” on four occasions, according to the charge sheet. (See here and here.)

And they claim that Singaporeans have one of the lowest sexual frequency in the world. Seems like everyone’s having sex and getting busted!

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