The scoop that shocked Singapore

It was a text message that sparked the sensational expose of an extramarital affair of a politician with a female employee: "My friend got a super scandal about a politician having an affair.

Got proof. You interested?"

The intriguing message came on a Saturday morning in December last year when reporter Judith Tan was shopping for Christmas presents.

Ms Tan's account in The New Paper of how the extramarital affair of the former Speaker of Parliament, Mr Michael Palmer, was exposed and his resignation, won her a joint-silver at the 12th Asian Media Awards on Wednesday.

Her scoop, "Source. Messages. Scandal" (Dec 13, 2012) bagged the silver in the best in editorial content category at the award ceremony in Bangalore, India.

The award is organised by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), an organisation representing more than 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and more than 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.

The Straits Times with its story on the gang rape of an Indian student last December shares the silver.

While the veteran journalist was surprised when she found out about the win, she is not ready to celebrate.

She said: "While it is like a sort of an affirmation of the reporting of news that I do, it is also bittersweet because somebody lost his job. Because of his one moment of folly, he had to resign despite him doing a great job."

After that first SMS, the contact's friend sent Ms Tan, via e-mail, the screengrabs of SMS and e-mail exchanges allegedly between the politician and the woman, all of which suggested an intimate relationship.

On Wednesday morning, an emergency press conference was called at the People's Action Party headquarters.

The shock announcement was Mr Palmer's resignation.

It was revealed then that he had offered to resign his positions on Saturday, the day Ms Tan received the first SMS, and that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had accepted his resignation on Sunday.


Till today, Ms Tan has no idea who the informant was.

She said: "Everything transpired via SMSes and then via e-mail so I still don't know whether the informant was a man or a woman."

But why would the informant choose to reveal such a shocking piece of information to her?

She said: "I suppose whoever this informant is, trusted this contact enough (for the contact) to direct him or her in my direction.

"I was at the right place at the right time."

Said Mr Dominic Nathan, editor of The New Paper: "When something big happens in Singapore, all media will be on the story, but you can always count on The New Paper to give you something extra - juicy details, drama behind the scenes, or the actual exchanges between the main players. Judith's story had all these elements and more.

"Together with Jonathan Choo's photos (of a remorseful Mr Palmer), we gave readers the best coverage of what turned out to a shocker of a story.

"Winning an award that ranks us among the best in Asia for editorial content and breaking news is truly an honour, one that speaks volumes of the talent in The New Paper newsroom."

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