SINGAPORE - Member of Parliament for Bukit Batok Single Member Constituency (SMC) David Ong has resigned from the People's Action Party (PAP).
In a statement, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said a by-election will be held in the SMC "in due course".
Channel NewsAsia reported on Saturday night that Ong had an extramarital affair with a PAP member and grassroots volunteer.
The woman, believed to be an executive at a logistics firm, was identified by Lianhe Zaobao as a 41-year-old Wendy Lim.
According to Channel NewsAsia, Ong's alleged affair went on for at least six months and came to light only when the woman's husband lodged a complaint about it.
Earlier today, the PMO released Ong's resignation letter addressed to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is also Secretary General of the PAP.
While Ong said in his letter that he was resigning for personal reasons and "with a heavy heart", he also told The Straits Times that there is "personal indiscretion" on his part which he deeply regrets.
"I would appreciate if you can give me and my family the privacy to heal and rebuild," he was quoted as saying.
In his resignation letter, Ong thanked the Bukit Batok residents for their support and expressed his appreciation to the grassroot leaders and the PAP. In the same letter, he also apologised for stepping down prematurely.
In his reply, PM Lee commended Ong for serving diligently as an MP, first for Jurong GRC and then for Bukit Batok SMC.
"As an MP, you worked hard to strengthen the Bukit Batok community, building up a team of volunteers and community partners to help residents in need," PM Lee wrote.
Calling Ong's departure a setback, Deputy Prime Minster Tharman Shanmugaratnam told reporters on Saturday afternoon that Ong's resignation was "totally unexpected".
"We're all taken aback by this but we will recover," he said.
He added that PAP was "deeply sorry that this has happened", adding that the first priority now is to make sure Bukit Batok SMC is taken care of.
In the meantime, Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development, will be in charge of the SMC.
DPM Tharman also said that Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng will take over Ong as Jurong Town Council chairman, Channel NewsAsia reported.
Shortly after news of Ong's resignation broke, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) announced its intention to contest the up-coming by-election in Bukit Batok.
"Our campaign team has been activated and we will work very hard to be the people's voice in Parliament and continue to be the Competent, Constructive and Compassionate party that Singaporeans want to see," SDP said on its Facebook page. SDP Secretary General Chee Soon Juan also made the announcement on his own Facebook page, saying that the party is "looking forward to contesting in the by-election at Bt Batok and will be gearing up for it".
According to Channel NewsAsia, Samir Salim Neji, an independent candidate who contested Bukit Batok SMC in the General Election last year, said it is "very likely" that he will stand in the upcoming by-election.
Leaders from the National Solidarity Party, Reform Party and People's Power Party did not express firm intentions to contest, but did not dismiss the possibility of contesting either.