SINGAPORE: Member of Parliament (MP) for Bukit Batok SMC David Ong has announced his resignation citing "personal reasons", according to a press statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Saturday (Mar 12).
In a statement later on Saturday, Mr Ong admitted there was "personal indiscretion" on his part. "I feel that it’s the right thing to do to step down for the best interests of the party, my constituents and family," he said.
"There is personal indiscretion on my part which I deeply regret. I would appreciate if you can give me and my family the privacy to heal and rebuild."
Channel NewsAsia has confirmed that Mr Ong is resigning over an extramarital affair. The woman involved is a PAP member and grassroots volunteer, and an executive at a logistics firm. The affair is believed to have gone on for about six months, and came to light after the woman’s husband complained about it.
A by-election will be held in Bukit Batok SMC "in due course", said PM Lee Hsien Loong, who is also the Secretary-General of the People's Action Party (PAP).
In the meantime, Jurong GRC MP Desmond Lee, who is also Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development, will take care of Bukit Batok residents, added PM Lee.
"Our priority now is to ensure that the residents of Bukit Batok continue to be very well taken care of": Desmond Lee. http://bit.ly/1plNv30Posted by Channel NewsAsia Singapore on Saturday, 12 March 2016
Said PM Lee in the statement: "I believe your decision to resign is in the best interest of your constituents, the Party, your family and yourself."
FIRST PRIORITY TO MAKE SURE BUKIT BATOK IN GOOD HANDS: THARMAN
At a press conference after the announcement on Saturday, Deputy Prime Minster Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who is also an MP for Jurong GRC, said the decision was "totally unexpected".
"Mr David Ong has apologised but I want to say to Bukit Batok residents on behalf of the party that we are deeply sorry this has happened," said Mr Tharman. "It's totally unexpected but it has happened. Our first priority is to make sure that Bukit Batok SMC is in good hands until the by-election."
"Our priority now is to ensure that the residents of Bukit Batok continue to be very well taken care of," added Mr Desmond Lee, who was at the press conference. "I’m already in very close touch with community leaders and volunteers, and I’m in the process of taking over the duties and responsibilities of the MP for Bukit Batok, such as conducting Meet-the-People sessions and conducting house visits.
"My Parliamentary colleagues in Jurong GRC will, when necessary, provide all the support to ensure the residents' interests come first," he added.
Jurong GRC MP Ang Wei Neng will take over as the chairman of Jurong-Clementi Town Council, according to Mr Tharman. Mr Ang said his immediate task is to ensure that the residents of Bukit Batok, Yuhua and Jurong GRC get the same level of service.
At the 2015 General Election (GE), Mr Ong won Bukit Batok SMC with 73.02 per cent of the vote. Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) candidate Sadasivam Veriyah garnered 26.4 per cent of the vote, while independent candidate Samir Salim Neji got 0.6 per cent.
Bukit Batok was carved out as an SMC for GE2015. It was previously part of Bukit Timah GRC.
OPPOSITION PARTIES RESPOND
In a news release on Saturday, the SDP said it will contest the by-election when it occurs.
"Following the announcement of the resignation of David Ong from his post as MP for Bukit Batok and from the PAP today, the SDP looks forward to contesting the by-election that will be called in the constituency," said SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan in a statement.
The opposition People's Power Party's (PPP) Goh Meng Seng said he will first discuss with the SDP if the PPP will run for Bukit Batok SMC when the by-election takes place.
Independent candidate Samir Salim Neji, who contested Bukit Batok SMC during GE2015, said it is "very likely" that he will stand in the upcoming by-election. Mr Samir said serving the public is something which he would like to do for the long term.
Meanwhile, Singapore Democratic Alliance chairman Desmond Lim said the party has "no comment" as to whether it will contest. He added that there was "no hurry" to make a decision, as PM Lee has not yet decided when the by-election will be held.
As for the National Solidarity Party, it said that it is "considering the issue". Reform Party chief Kenneth Jeyaretnam also said the party's Central Executive Committee will meet and decide "in due course".
MR ONG "WORKED HARD TO STRENGTHEN BUKIT BATOK"
PM Lee said as an MP, Mr Ong "worked hard to strengthen the Bukit Batok community, building up a team of volunteers and community partners to help residents in need".
“The programs you introduced are making a difference: Helping needy families with monthly groceries, ensuring they get holistic assistance including jobs and healthcare support, and enabling a fresh start for individuals who have had repeated problems,” added PM Lee.
He also said that Mr Ong spoke up for the elderly regularly on issues such as the retirement age, CPF, MediShield coverage, and the use of MediSave for Specialist Outpatient Clinic treatments.
Below are the statements reproduced in full: