Saturday, August 4, 2012

Michael Palmer-Laura Ong Scandal

Official Resignation Speech

Yup, that's her.

No hiding for her.

Her other man?

All in the same team? Gangbang team?

Just how and why did the Michael Palmer affair come to light? Was it because the woman involved, Laura Ong, was involved in a love triangle?

The Straits Times on Friday reported that the 33-year-old former grassroots director was in a "serious relationship" with a logistics manager, Andy Lim, for close to two years when she began dating Palmer.

Sources told the paper that Lim, who is in his early 30s, would have been one of the few people to have had access to the SMS and email exchanges between Ong and Palmer.

These exchanges exposing their intimate relationship had been sent to The New Paper by an anonymous source on Saturday -- the same day Palmer came forward and confessed to DPM Teo Chee Hean.

One SMS read, "Hello darling... I love you loads. More than I sometimes show... Sorry. Love love".

Another exchange read, “I hope you are having a good massage. I have some mangoes for you. I love you and miss you loads.”

Other email exchanges showed the pair met up regularly on Mondays and that Palmer had given gifts to Ong, a former constituency director with the People's Association.

Not much is known about Lim except that he is a Anglo-Chinese School and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) alumni. They reportedly met when he was a grassroots volunteer at Punggol South ward and as recently as two weeks ago posted Facebook photos, which have since been deleted, of a recent trip they made to Johor Bahru's Legoland, reported The Straits Times.

On Wednesday, Palmer appeared alongside Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean to announce his resignation as both Speaker and Member of Parliament. DPM Teo said the party first found out about the matter on Saturday and that Palmer offered to resign on the same evening.

Late on Wednesday, the PA also confirmed Ong had resigned from her post.

"Ms Laura Ong, constituency director of Pasir Ris West Constituency Office tendered her resignation on 10 Dec 12, citing family commitments,"  said the PA statement sent to the media.

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

Photos of Ong, who is married but separated from her husband of six years, are also spreading online after they appeared on a mystery blog that was set up on Wednesday. They showed Ong and her colleagues during a People's Association retreat in Beijing, China.

It was not immediately clear when they were taken but when contacted by Yahoo! Singapore, Pasir Ris-Punggol MP Teo Ser Luck, who was pictured in several of the photos, confirmed they were taken during a grassroots organisation overseas retreat.

Teo, who will take over Palmer's ward in the meantime, said he knew Ong from the time he used to be the MP/Adviser for Punggol South before the 2011 general elections. Ong was then the constituency director of Punggol South.

Local media reported that Palmer, accompanied by his wife of 15 years Diane, said his goodbyes to 30 grassroots volunteers at the PAP's Punggol East Branch Office on Wednesday evening.

SINGAPORE - "My friend got a super scandal about a politician having an affair. Got proof. You interested?"

TNP immediately tried to find out more about what seemed like an explosive story. For the next hour, there was silence.

Then a couple more messages arrived five minutes before noon from a source close to the woman linked to the scandal.

At noon, four e-mails with the header "Michael Palmer" were sent to TNP.

Attached to three of them were screengrabs of SMS and e-mail exchanges allegedly between the politician and the woman. Michael Palmer. Speaker of Parliament since last year. Young, dashing politician. This was a big story indeed.

The messages, which seemed to have been sent to the woman's smartphone, suggested an intimate relationship between the two, which included regular Monday meetings.

One message reads: "Hello darling... I love you loads. More than I sometimes show... Sorry. Love love."

Another message says: "But you can't judge our relationship by just what happens on Monday."

One e-mail shows a forwarded message: "Your booking at Fairmont Singapore." The last e-mail sent by the source contained a picture of a Dior handbag that Mr Palmer purportedly gave the woman.

Shortly after, the informant said in an SMS that the issue needed to be escalated. He declined to speak to TNP and would only communicate through SMS.

"You recall Yaw Shin Leong? We need good ministers," he wrote.

Mr Yaw, a former member of the Workers' Party, was the MP for Hougang before news of his alleged extramarital affairs caused his sacking earlier this year.

As TNP was trying to verify the information given by the source, somewhere else in Singapore that same day, Mr Palmer was coming clean to the People's Action Party (PAP).

He met Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and said that "he would resign his positions", the media was told in a press conference chaired by the DPM on Wednesday.

When Mr Palmer apologised "for what he had done", Mr Teo told him to look after his family and to do what he could "to make up for the hurt he had caused them".

First, Mr Palmer's personal Facebook account was deleted in the morning.

Then his Facebook page and Twitter accounts also disappeared. At 9.33am, the PAP invited the media to a press conference by DPM Teo at 1.15pm.

Reading from a written statement, he told the press he had resigned "to avoid further embarrassment to the PAP and to Parliament".

He declined to take personal questions on his affair and how it had affected his family.

In his letter to the PM, also dated on Wednesday, he tendered his resignation as MP and as a PAP member with immediate effect.

He said he took full responsibility for his "grave mistake".

"My conduct was improper and it was a serious error of judgment," he wrote.

PM Lee accepted the resignation "with great sadness" yesterday.

He said: "It is necessary that all PAP MPs and advisers to grassroots organisations uphold the highest standards of personal conduct... and that the party be seen to hold its MPs and advisers to these standards."

Mr Palmer also asked for his family to be spared the publicity.

"I humbly request that you be kind enough to respect my family's privacy during this difficult period," he said.

This appeal was repeated by both DPM Teo and PM Lee. DPM Teo told reporters that those involved "are suffering much hurt from this episode".

"They need time and space for the healing to take place. I hope Singaporeans give them this time and space to do so, and that in time, they will rebuild their lives," he said.

The PA identified the woman as Madam Laura Ong, constituency director of Pasir Ris West Constituency Office, in a press statement on Wednesday evening.

It said she had tendered her resignation on Monday, citing family commitments.

On Wednesday night, Mr Palmer and his wife met grassroots leaders and volunteers of the Punggol East ward.

In a Facebook post, DPM Teo, who was also there with Mr Teo Ser Luck, said Mr Palmer had apologised to the grassroots members.

"There were tears in many eyes as they wished Michael and his family well," he wrote.

Mr Palmer did not respond to TNP's requests on Wednesay to comment on the SMS and e-mail exchanges.

Coincidentally, an American novelist named Michael Palmer released his new book this week. Its title - Political Suicide.

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