Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 12/12/2012 21:34 | By Channel NewsAsia

Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer resigns over "grave mistake"

Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer resigns over "grave mistake"

Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer resigns over "grave mistake"

SINGAPORE: Mr Michael Palmer, Speaker of Singapore Parliament and MP for Punggol East SMC, has resigned over "grave mistake" of improper conduct.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Mr Palmer said he had an improper relationship with a staff member of the People’s Association.

The staff member, who was working in the Pasir Ris—Punggol GRC, has also resigned.

Mr Palmer said: "I have resigned to take full responsibility for a grave mistake that I have committed. I had a relationship with a member of the People’s Association staff working in Pasir Ris—Punggol GRC. 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. My conduct was improper and it was a serious error of judgement. I have resigned in order to avoid further embarrassment to the People’s Action Party (PAP) and to Parliament."

Mr Palmer said he is also deeply sorry for letting down his residents, the PAP and everyone who has believed and supported him. "I apologise unreservedly to them and to my family. May I humbly request you be kind enough to respect my family’s privacy during this very difficult time."

Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean, who is PAP’s 1st Assistant Secretary—General, was also at the news conference.

Mr Teo said the party first came to know about the matter on 8 December. He 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," said Mr Teo at the news conference.

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

Mr Teo said PM 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.

DPM Teo said that 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.

He also 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.

Mr Teo said Minister of State Teo Ser Luck has been asked to oversee Punggol East Constituency, while Pasir Ris—Punggol GRC MP Zainal Sapari will be appointed as the new chairman of the Pasir Ris—Punggol Town Council.

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

PM Lee will nominate a new Speaker of Parliament when Parliament next meets, said Mr Teo.

In the meantime, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Mr Charles Chong will serve as Acting Speaker.

On the possibility of a by—election, DPM Teo said PM Lee will decide if there should be one and when it will take place.

Mr Palmer took office as the 8th Speaker of the House in October 2011.

At 44 years old, he was Singapore’s 8th and youngest Speaker of Parliament. A lawyer by training, Mr Palmer is also a partner at law firm Harry Elias. He is married with one child.

In response to media queries, the People’s Association said in a statement that Ms Laura Ong, who is the constituency director of Pasir Ris West Constituency Office, tendered her resignation on 10 December citing family commitments. The People’s Association has accepted her resignation.

— CNA/ck/ir

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn