Singapore’s prime minister says Parliament speaker and lawmaker quit over extramarital affair

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Singapore’s speaker of parliament and another lawmaker from the ruling party have resigned over their yearslong extramarital affair, the country’s prime minister said Monday. The pair had refused to end the affair despite being advised to do so.

It was the latest setback for Singapore’s long-ruling People Action Party, or PAP, after a high-level graft probe against a Cabinet minister. The prime minister said he will name a new speaker next month, and stressed that such cases will not prompt a call for early general elections.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he had accepted the resignations of Parliament Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin and lawmaker Cheng Li Hui as they fell short of the “high standards of propriety and personal conduct” expected of all lawmakers.

Lee says he first learned of the affair after the 2020 general elections and advised the two to end it. However, the affair continued and the premier again spoke to them in February. He said he discovered new information this month suggesting the affair was still ongoing.

“I think it’s simply inappropriate,” Lee said, adding that the ruling party “has to maintain party discipline and standards of conduct.”

Lee said that PAP, in power since Singapore’s independence after separating from neighboring Malaysia in 1965, deals vigorously with allegations against its lawmakers. The prime minister recently approved a graft probe into Transport Minister S. Iswaran, who was arrested last week alongside hotel tycoon Ong Beng Seng. The two were later freed on bail. Details of the investigation have not been released.

Also, anti-graft officials recently probed allegations of corruption and abuse of power related to the rentals of state-owned heritage bungalows by two other ministers, who were later cleared of any wrongdoing.

“No system can be completely infallible,” Lee said. “I hope I put them right, and we will be able to set the right tone for a long time to come.”

Tan’s resignation also came after a video clip appeared on social media where he was heard insulting another lawmaker. He has apologized for his “rude and unparliamentary” conduct.

Lee urged all Singaporeans to give Tan, Cheng, and their families space and time to heal from the episode.

The next polls in this city-state of more than 5 million people are due in 2025.

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