Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Michael Palmer

Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer has resigned as an MP today after revealing that he had been involved in an extramarital affair. The news had surprised many people and the messages were traveling so fast through hand phones " messages ". From Michael Palmer's issue, We again learn the lesson that those who want to survive in political scene ought to be thoroughly clean especially in the uniquely Singapore. We ought to be morally upright if we want to be in Singapore political scene. I hope all politicians can show excellent examples in moral standard. Show us the highest standard of morality, I mean all politicians including opposition parties and ruling party. I hope those who still doing immoral acts, stop doing it now because we do not want to see the same type of scandal again and again. Perhaps we need to refresh the codes like what we should do and not supposed to do as MP or politician.
Michael Palmer, one of the handsome MP in Singapore political scene made the stunning announcement at a press conference in the PAP headquarters this afternoon. Many people could not believe it especially he was the Parliament speaker. He looks like the highly morally person but now we ready can not judge from the appearance. One thing we now realize that  human beings need to be highly disciplined in order to curb the desires and temptation. I hope everybody learn how to curb the desires even if you are not politicians as long as you are human. Let's all turn to the new leaves if we have improper acts. 
Michael Palmer said he resigned to "take full responsibility for a grave mistake" and to avoid further embarrassment to the PAP and to Parliament.
He apologised unreservedly and said the relationship was with a staff member of the People's Association working in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC.
DPM Teo Chee Hean, who was also at the press conference also apologised to residents on behalf of the party and himself.
He said Minister of State and Mayor Teo Ser Luck will oversee the Punggol East constituency.
Mr Zainal Sapari will be the new chairman of the town council and Deputy Speaker Charles Chong will serve as Acting Speaker.

The People's Association has confirmed that 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.
Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Palmer announced his resignation as Speaker and MP for Punggol East.
Mr Michael Palmer has resigned as Speaker of Parliament and as a member of the People's Action Party following his admission today of a relationship with a member of the People's Association staff.

"I have resigned to take full responsibility for a grave mistake that I have committed. I had a relationship with a member of the PA staff working in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC," said Mr Palmer at a press conference this afternoon in which he announced his resignation flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

"While the individual did not work with me directly, Punggol East used to be part of the Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC and continues to work with it," said Mr Palmer.

"My conduct was improper and it was a serious error of judgment. I have resigned in order to avoid further embarrassment to the PAP and to Parliament."

The staff member has resigned from the PA.

DPM Teo said the PAP first came to know about the matter on Saturday, Dec 8, and Mr Palmer offered his resignation that night.

"I am sorry we have let the residents of Punggol East down. I assure you we will put things right and continue to look after you," said DPM Teo.

Quoting the Prime Minister, DPM Teo said: "It is necessary that all PAP MPs and grassroots advisors uphold the highest standards of personal conduct, especially in dealings with constituents, grassroots activists and staff, and that the PAP be seen to hold its MPs and advisors to those standards."

Added the Deputy Prime Minister: "Those involved are suffering much hurt from this episode. They need time and space for the healing to take place."

Mr Charles Chong will take on the Speaker's responsibilities for now, while Mr Teo Ser Luck will oversee Mr Palmer's Punggol East constituency. Mr Zainal Sapari will be appointed new Chairman of Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council, DPM Teo said. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will nominate a new Speaker for consideration when Parliament next meets.

"Whether there will be a by-election and if so when is a matter for the PM to decide," DPM Teo said.

The Workers' Party said on their Facebook portal at 3.30pm: "By virtue of Article 46 of the Constitution, Mr Palmer's Parliamentary seat for Punggol East Single Member Constituency (SMC) has become vacant.

"In order that the residents of Punggol East SMC are properly represented, the Workers' Party urges the Prime Minister to call a by-election in the constituency as soon as possible.

"In the last General Election, the Workers' Party contested Punggol East SMC. The Workers' Party is ready to offer a choice to the voters of Punggol East SMC again in the by-election."

The Singapore People's Party also released a statement supporting the Workers' Party call for a by-election.

In their statement, they said: "We strongly urge the Prime Minister to call for a by-election as soon as possible, to ensure that the constituents of Punggol East are democratically represented hereafter.

"The SPP is of the opinion that the Workers' Party should have the priority to contest in the by-election, due to their earlier involvement in the constituency during the 2011 General Election."

Mr Palmer won the Punggol East SMC seat in the only three-way fight in last year's General Election, defeating candidates from the Workers' Party and Singapore Democratic Alliance.
I hope all Singapore MP can show ready good examples......
Members of Parliament from the neighbouring Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC say they are surprised and shocked by Mr Michael Palmer's sudden resignation.

But they assure Punggol East residents that their needs will be looked after.

With Mr Palmer's resignation, Mayor of North East district and Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck will oversee the single-seat constituency.

Mr Teo is also an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC. His priority is to ensure that residents' needs are met.

"I'll do my best to make sure that the transition period will be smooth and that we will continue to serve the residents of Punggol East to the best of our ability," Mr Teo told Channel NewsAsia.

Fellow Pasir Ris-Punggol MP Zainal Sapari was told around noon on Wednesday that he will take over as chairman of the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council.

"I am surprised by the sudden resignation of Mr Michael Palmer over the reasons that have been cited. We will ensure that there will be little or no impact on the management and operations of the town council," said Mr Zainal.

"Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council has always operated as a team and we always keep each other in the loop over town council's matters, that's why we are able to handle any of such unforeseen circumstances. We will continue to be impartial and that the development of the town as a whole will always be our top priority."

Mr Zainal said Mr Palmer is a likeable person, and is professional and impartial in discharging his duties as town council chairman.

He said: "I have known Mr Michael Palmer in his capacity as chairman of Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council. He has always been professional, impartial and fair to all the constituencies that fall under the jurisdiction of Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council. As a Speaker of Parliament, I find him to be a very likeable person and fair to all parliamentarians."

Fellow MP Gan Thiam Poh described Mr Palmer as a nice colleague and a well-liked MP.

He said Singaporeans expect all MPs to hold high standards of conduct and that he respects Mr Palmer's decision to resign.

"Michael is a nice colleague , a very caring and well liked MP. He is a very good Speaker that take care of the members of the House and give everyone a chance to speak and ensure the smooth running of Parliament. It is a difficult time for him and his family. Singaporeans expect all MPs to hold high standards of conduct, so we respect his decision," said Mr Gan.

Workers' Party (WP) chief Mr Low Thia Khiang said today that it is unfortunate that Mr Michael Palmer has resigned from the People's Action Party and his position as Speaker of Parliament. He was speaking to reporters at the sidelines of his Meet-the-People Session.
"Certainly I'm very surprised, it's something that is not expected. I think no process is fool-proof.
"It is unfortunate. Michael Palmer was a well-balanced speaker. He managed parliamentary affairs very well and very efficiently.
"He gave both front and back benches sufficient time to debate. He also gave members of the opposition sufficient time to engage the front bench. Personally, I quite liked him as a speaker. It's unfortunate that he has resigned," he said.
"I hope those people who have been critical of the Workers' Party, the leader as well, will display fairness and integrity in their comments and sincerity in what they have said during the episode of Yaw Shin Leong," he added.
Answering a question on whether he sees any similarities between Mr Palmer's case and that of former WP member Mr Yaw, Mr Low commented that he "would not want to make any comparison".
"I don't think it's fair to make any comparison. I think every case is unique. I want to move on from there," he said.
He added that WP has issued a press release urging the Prime Minister to hold a by-election in Punggol East SMC.

Political analysts say the People's Action Party (PAP) has moved quickly and efficiently on Michael Palmer affair.

The Speaker of Parliament resigned from the party and as MP for Punggol East over an improper relationship with a staff member of the People's Association.

The PAP was informed about the matter on Saturday, and by Sunday, a decision was made.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also the PAP's first assistant secretary-general, said the party first came to know about the matter on 8 December when Mr Palmer informed Mr Teo about his decision to resign.

Both men informed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the same day. Mr Lee met Mr Palmer the next day and directed that the matter should be dealt with decisively and in an open way.

While it may be too early to tell if and how the party's image will be affected, some say much will depend on whether a by-election is called.

Dr Reuben Wong from the Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore (NUS), said: "It's Singapore efficiency at an extreme - everything was signed and sealed within a few days.

"Contrast this, especially to the way the Workers' Party handled the Yaw Shin Leong case. That dragged on for weeks before Yaw Shin Leong resigned.

"The party leadership said they were none the wiser. I think in this case you can see the difference in party discipline.

"Here's a party which is pretty ruthless; it finds out - there may be rumours, a tip-off - and it tells the member you've got to come clean. Of course, there's a lot more at stake, because Palmer as Speaker, has almost ministerial status."

Asked if the image of the party will be tarnished because of the matter,
Deputy Prime Minister Teo said the PAP does its best to choose its people carefully.

He said: "No selection system will be foolproof and sometimes problems will emerge even many years after an appointment or a selection.

"But I think the important thing to do is, when such an event, such an episode does occur, arise, we have to act properly. And that's the most important thing, to respond in a right manner - openly and decisively.

"Mr Palmer has taken responsibility for his serious mistake. The PM has directed that we deal with this openly and so we have done so."

Some analysts Channel NewsAsia spoke with said the damage to the PAP may not be that significant in the long run, as the next general election is still a few years away.

But the party's credibility will depend on whether it calls a by-election, even with a caretaker MP in place.

Minister of State Teo Ser Luck has been asked to oversee Punggol East Constituency.

Professor Hussin Mutalib from the NUS said: "Because a precedent has been set in Hougang, (the) opposition, you can imagine, will demand a by-election. The populace, the electorate probably would like to see the same thing. So I think the pressure will be on the prime minister and the PAP to call for one."

Under Singapore law, whether and when a by-election is called is at the prime minister's discretion.

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