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David Ong, a Member of Parliament for Bukit Batok and a People’s Action Party member (PAP), has announced his resignation from both Parliament and the party.
In explaining his decision, he told The Sunday Times: “I feel that it’s the right thing to do to step down for the best interests of the party, my constituents and family.
“There is personal indiscretion on my part which I deeply regret. I would appreciate if you can give me and my family the privacy to heal and rebuild.”
In a note on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s Facebook page, Lee said that he accepted Ong’s resignation and thanked him for his work in strengthening the Bukit Batok community.
Lee also said that a by-election for the Bukit Batok Single-Member Constituency (SMC) seat will be called “in due course”.
He added that Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development and MP for Jurong GRC, would “take care of Bukit Batok residents” in the meantime.
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said that Ong’s resignation was “totally unexpected” and that the PAP’s priority would be to ensure that Bukit Batok residents remain in good hands until the by-election.
In a statement from the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), its secretary-general Chee Soon Juan said that the SDP “looks forward to contesting the by-election that will be called in the constituency”.
In the case of a vacancy occurring in a single-seat ward, the prime minister is obligated under Singapore’s Constitution to call for a by-election within a reasonable time unless there is a general election approaching.
Ong entered politics during the 2011 General Election and was elected as an MP for Jurong GRC. He later ran for – and won – the Bukit Batok SMC seat in last year’s general election, beating the Singapore Democratic Party’s Sadasivam Veriyah and independent candidate Samir Salim Neji.
His mid-term departure from politics is the first to have occurred since 2012. In February that year, Workers’ Party (WP) MP Yaw Shin Leong was expelled from the WP following rumours of an extramarital affair. This led to a by-election for the single-seat Hougang ward, which was held in May the same year and was won my WP newcomer Png Eng Huat.
In December 2012, parliamentary speaker Michael Palmer of the PAP also resigned over an extramarital affair, leaving the single-seat Punngol East constituency up for grabs. The January 2013 by-election saw a four-way fight, with the WP’s candidate Lee Li Lian emerging victorious. She later lost the seat to the PAP’s Charles Chong in last year’s general election.
(Below is the exchange of letters between Ong and Lee)