Speaker of Parliament, PAP MP Michael Palmer resigns due to 'improper conduct'

Michael Palmer has resigned as Speaker and Member of Parliament for Punggol East SMC over his relationship with a member of staff at PA. (Yahoo! file photo)

UPDATE (8:45pm 12 Dec 2012. PA responds to queries on Michael Palmer incident, says a Ms Laura Ong has resigned.)

Speaker of Parliament and Member of Parliament Michael Palmer has resigned from both posts due to an "improper relationship" with a People's Association (PA) staff member in his constituency.

Punggol East MP Palmer said he was resigning to avoid "further embarrassment" and he took "full responsibility" for the "grave mistake".

"I am deeply sorry, and apologise unreservedly to consituents and family," he said during a hastily arranged press conference for selected media only at the PAP's Bedok headquarters on Wednesday afternoon.

"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 Palmer, reported Today newspaper.

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

In a note to editors, the PA said in response to media enquiries on the Palmer incident that "Ms Laura Ong, constituency director of Pasir Ris West Constituency Office tendered her resignation on 10 Dec 12, citing family commitments." PA said it accepted the resignation.

However, when contacted by Yahoo! Singapore, several of Ong's colleagues at Pasir Ris Elias Community Club were not aware that she had resigned. Two said she was currently on leave but expected her to be coming back to work after her leave.

Palmer, a former St Andrews alumni, was elected as the MP for Punggol after defeating candidates from the Workers' Party and the Singapore Democratic Alliance during the 2011 May general election.

The 44-year-old lawyer, who is married with one child, did not take a question from a reporter on how this would affect his marriage and his wife's reaction, according to a tweet from @TODAYonline

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who appeared alongside Palmer at the press conference, said the party first found out about the matter on Saturday and that Palmer offered to resign on the same evening.

DPM Teo, also the PAP's first assistant secretary-general, apologised to residents of Punggol East and said, "We will put things right and continue to look after you."

Teo Ser Luck will take over Palmer's MP role in the constituency, while Charles Chong will take over the role of Acting Speaker of Parliament.

Palmer's resignation comes on the back of a series of high-profile sex scandals involving politicians and top civil servants in the past year.

Former Workers' Party MP Yaw Shin Leong, who was elected to Hougang SMC in last year's election, was expelled from the party in February over allegations of marital infidelity.

Former Central Narcotics Bureau chief Ng Boon Gay and former Singapore civil defence chief Peter Lim are also facing jail time over sex-related corruption charges. 

Palmer's resignation from the PAP also raises the prospect of another by-election in the single-member constituency of Punggol East.

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