Michael Palmer resigns over affair (UPDATED WITH VIDEO)
Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer has resigned as an MP today after revealing that he that he had been involved in an extramarital affair.
He made the stunning announcement at a press conference in the PAP headquarters this afternoon.
He 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 in Pasir Ris - Punggol.
DPM Teo Chee Hean, who was also at the press conference also apologized 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 FOLLOWING ARE STATEMENTS BY MR PALMER AND DPM TEO CHEE HEAN:
MR MICHAEL PALMER:
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for attending this press conference.
With great regret, I announce that I have tendered my resignation as a Member of Parliament and as a member of the People's Action Party.
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 GRC and continues to work with it. My conduct was improper and it was a serious error of judgment.
I have resigned in order to avoid further embarassment to the PAP and to Parliament.
I have performed my duties as Speaker of Parliament and MP for Punggol East to the best of my ability and my actions did not affect my performance of those duties.
I am deeply sorry for letting down the residents of Punggol East, the PAP and everyone who has believed in me and supported me. I apologise unreservedly to them, and to my family.
I humbly request that you be kind enough to respect my family's privacy during this difficult period. Thank you.
REMARKS BY MR TEO CHEE HEAN:
The Party first came to know about this matter of Saturday 8 December.
On Saturday night Mr Michael Palmer came to see me to inform me about this matter, and said that he would resign his positions.
I agreed with him that he should do so. We informed the Prime Minister, who agreed that that was the proper thing to do.
The Prime Minister met Mr Palmer on Sunday morning and confirmed the decision, and directed that this matter will be dealt with decisively, and in an open way.
We took the last two days to make the arrangements to ensure that residents of Punggol East continue to be taken care off (sic); and
The transition is carried out according to the proper legal and administrative procedures.
Once this was done, we made the announcement today.
Mr Palmer has resigned as a PAP member, and as MP for Punggol East.
I have worked closely with Michael for more than 6 years, and know him as a hard working and good MP, very caring to his residents. A good team player. I am saddened and disappointed that this has happened.
When he saw me on Saturday, he was very sorry for what he had done.
I told him to look after his family and to do what he could to make up for the hurt he had caused them.
I told him that I would make arrangements so that the residents in his constituency continue to be looked after.
On behalf of the Party and of myself, I would 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 will put things right and continue to look after you."
I have asked Minister of State and Mayor, Mr Teo Ser Luck to oversee Punggol East constituency.
Mr Zainal Sapari will be appointed as the new Chairman of the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council.
We have always worked very closely together in Pasir Ris-Punggol, and continued doing so even when Punggol East became a single member constituency.
I and my colleagues in Pasir Ris-Punggol will continue to look after Punggol East, and I will continue to take a personal interest in the welfare of the Punggol East residents.
With Mr Palmer's resignation as an MP, he also ceases to be Speaker.
Deputy Speaker Mr Charles Chong who is the Acting Speaker will continue in this role.
The Prime Minister will nominate a new Speaker, for Parliament's consideration when Parliament next meets.
I have known Mr Palmer as a diligent and good MP, always concerned for the welfare of his residents.
However, as the Prime Minister has stated in his reply to Mr Palmer:
"It is necessary that all PAP MPs and Advisors to Grassroots Organisations uphold the highest standards of personal conduct, especially in dealings with constituents, grassroots activists and staff, and that the Party be seen to hold its MPs and Advisors to these standards."
Those involved are suffering much hurt from this episode. They need time and space for the healing to take place. I hope Singaporeans give them this time and space to do so, and that in time, they will rebuild their lives.