SINGAPORE - Mr Michael Palmer donned party whites for the first time on March 30, 2006. His wife Diane laughed when she saw him.
A few hours later, he was introduced by the People's Action Party (PAP) as one of its 24 new candidates for the 2006 election.
Despite his wife's laughter, Mr Palmer told reporters he would not change the PAP's trademark white-on-white attire, which symbolises integrity and incorruptibility. He said: "I wouldn't want to change it... There are certain values, standards and traditions associated with it. There are certain boundaries you don't cross."
Six years on, Mr Palmer resigned as MP and Speaker yesterday, after confessing to crossing one of those boundaries: an extramarital affair with a People's Association staff member working in a neighbouring constituency.
Political ramifications will follow: Opposition parties want the Prime Minister to hold a by-election in the vacated single-member constituency of Punggol East, and the Workers' Party (WP) has said it will contest there. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he will "carefully consider whether to call a by-election in Punggol East and, if so, when."
Ironically, in February this year, it was a Workers' Party MP's alleged extramarital affairs that resulted in the Hougang seat being vacant. Comparison will certainly be made between the two affairs, how the two men in question conducted themselves and how the parties handled it.
It is hard to gainsay that the PAP handled this better.
Mr Palmer came clean to PAP leaders on Saturday and decided to resign. He apologised to constituents, party and family. The PAP held a press conference four days later to announce the resignation, after arranging for others to take over Mr Palmer's duties.
In contrast, Mr Yaw Shin Leong maintained a strange silence in the face of allegations of affairs, even to his own party leaders. He did not quit his seat. He lost it after WP leaders sacked him - not for his affairs, since he never admitted to any - but for his lack of transparency and failure to account for his actions to his party and constituents.
|The Michael Palmer Affair
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