I just came out of the swimming pool yesterday afternoon when I heard the sudden announcement over the radio on the resignation of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bukit Batok single member constituency (SMC) ward, David Ong due to ‘personal reasons’.
Later on, I learned that Ong had also quit as a party member of the People’s Action Party (PAP), and he apologised for his ‘personal indiscretion’ in his resignation letter addressed to the Secretary-General of the PAP and also the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong.
Lee went on to announce that he will be calling for a by-election for Bukit Batok SMC.
By evening, Lianhe Zaobao broke the news that David Ong allegedly had an affair with a married woman, Wendy Lim, 41, who is also a member of the PAP Bukit Batok Branch Women’s Wing and ardent supporter of Ong. Ong himself is married with three kids. It is said that Lim’s husband was the one who leaked the news about the alleged extra-marital affair.
What was my immediate reaction following this chain of news?
Not another one.
First, it was Yaw Shin Leong from the Workers’ Party (WP) in early 2012 who allegedly had an extra-marital affair with a female supporter. He eventually vacated his MP seat and resulted in a by-election being called in the Hougang SMC ward. Then there was Michael Palmer from the PAP at the end of 2012, who also had an extra-marital affair. He vacated his MP seat as well and resulted in a by-election being called in the Punggol East SMC ward.
Now, there is David Ong to add to the string of recent MPs with ‘personal indiscretion’ issues.
I want to sympathise with Ong, but found it impossible to do so.
This is because the PAP brought this whole issue about infidelity and the need to vacate a MP seat upon themselves.
Let me elaborate.
First off, infidelity is not a criminal offense. Nonetheless, it is MORALLY wrong in a monogamous society. A MP who committed adultery did not commit any crime and is not legally required to vacate his or her seat in parliament.
There are many politicians in other countries who committed adultery, but were excellent leaders whom voters continue to support. Some prominent names include Bill Clinton and Franklin D. Roosevelt, both former presidents of the United States.
If you were to ask me, it would have been better to let MPs like Yaw, Palmer and Ong run for election again and let the voters themselves decide if they can accept a MP who is morally flawed, but who is doing a very good job running and representing the respective constituency.
This is no longer possible because in 2012, the PAP chose to keep attacking the WP to account for Yaw’s infidelity. They went on and on until WP, probably in a last-ditch measure to prove they can be of a higher moral standing than the PAP, expelled Yaw from the party, vacating his parliament seat and effectively forcing a by-election.
For instance, PAP’s chairman, Khaw Boon Wan said then that WP had misled voters and urged the party, not just Yaw, to come clean about its choice of candidate in Yaw and why it took the actions it did. This statement effectively linked an individual MP’s moral grounds to also reflect that of the party he or she belongs to.
Hence when Palmer’s indiscretion surfaced, the PAP had no choice but to follow in the WP’s footsteps with regards on the actions to take thereafter – issue an apology, get the naughty MP to resign, force a by-election.
Karma is a bitch.
Then again, the PAP has a total of 86 MPs in parliament versus just 6 MPs from the WP. With all things being equal, this means that the probability of a PAP committing some ‘personal indiscretion’ is at least 16 times higher! They should have seen it coming.
By arm-twisting the WP into a corner with regards to Yaw, a precedent is set for any other MP who is going to be caught in the same situation.
An individual’s moral failing becomes the moral failing of the political party he or she belongs to. As such, there really is no other way out than to pluck out the weed to save the garden.
This is why I have no sympathy for David Ong.
He knew the consequences and has to bear it now.
With regards to the by-election, judging by the huge margins the PAP won across most of the constituencies in the last general election, the PAP will win back Bukit Batok SMC easily.
Moreover, Bukit Batok SMC is in the WEST. People in the west tend to vote more for the PAP, judging from all the past election results. Plus, the strongest opposition party in Singapore, the WP, do not usually contest in the west.
I am predicting the PAP will win back Bukit Batok SMC with 70 to 80% of all votes easily, regardless if they field a veteran or some new face.