PAP acts fast and efficiently on Michael Palmer affair: analysts

PAP acts fast and efficiently on Michael Palmer affair: analysts

Political analysts say the People's Action Party (PAP) has moved quickly and efficiently on Michael Palmer affair. The PAP was informed on Saturday, and by Sunday, a decision was made.

SINGAPORE: Political analysts say the People's Action Party (PAP) has moved quickly and efficiently on Michael Palmer affair.

The Speaker of Parliament resigned from the party and as MP for Punggol East over an improper relationship with a staff member of the People's Association.

The PAP was informed about the matter on Saturday, and by Sunday, a decision was made.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also the PAP's first assistant secretary-general, said the party first came to know about the matter on 8 December when Mr Palmer informed Mr Teo about his decision to resign.

Both men informed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the same day. Mr Lee met Mr Palmer the next day and directed that the matter should be dealt with decisively and in an open way.

While it may be too early to tell if and how the party's image will be affected, some say much will depend on whether a by-election is called.

Dr Reuben Wong from the Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore (NUS), said: "It's Singapore efficiency at an extreme - everything was signed and sealed within a few days.

"Contrast this, especially to the way the Workers' Party handled the Yaw Shin Leong case. That dragged on for weeks before Yaw Shin Leong resigned.

"The party leadership said they were none the wiser. I think in this case you can see the difference in party discipline.

"Here's a party which is pretty ruthless; it finds out - there may be rumours, a tip-off - and it tells the member you've got to come clean. Of course, there's a lot more at stake, because Palmer as Speaker, has almost ministerial status."

Asked if the image of the party will be tarnished because of the matter,

Deputy Prime Minister Teo said the PAP does its best to choose its people carefully.

He said: "No selection system will be foolproof and sometimes problems will emerge even many years after an appointment or a selection.

"But I think the important thing to do is, when such an event, such an episode does occur, arise, we have to act properly. And that's the most important thing, to respond in a right manner - openly and decisively.

"Mr Palmer has taken responsibility for his serious mistake. The PM has directed that we deal with this openly and so we have done so."

Some analysts Channel NewsAsia spoke with said the damage to the PAP may not be that significant in the long run, as the next general election is still a few years away.

But the party's credibility will depend on whether it calls a by-election, even with a caretaker MP in place.

Minister of State Teo Ser Luck has been asked to oversee Punggol East Constituency.

Professor Hussin Mutalib from the NUS said: "Because a precedent has been set in Hougang, (the) opposition, you can imagine, will demand a by-election. The populace, the electorate probably would like to see the same thing. So I think the pressure will be on the prime minister and the PAP to call for one."

Under Singapore law, whether and when a by-election is called is at the prime minister's discretion.

Source: CNA/ir

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