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Bukit Batok MP David Ong resigns, leaves PAP due to "personal reasons"

People's Action Party (PAP) politician David Ong, 54, is resigning as the Member of Parliament for Bukit Batok, and from his party, due to "personal reasons".

SINGAPORE - People's Action Party (PAP) politician David Ong, 54, is resigning as the Member of Parliament for Bukit Batok, and from his party, due to "personal reasons".

A by-election will be held for the single-seat ward, said the Prime Minister's Office in a statement on Saturday afternoon.

"David has worked hard as an MP and served his residents diligently. I thank him for his contributions," read the statement. "I intend to hold a by-election in Bukit Batok SMC in due course. In the meantime, Mr Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development and MP for Jurong GRC, will take care of Bukit Batok residents."

Mr Ong entered politics in the 2011 General Election and was elected as one of the MPs for Jurong GRC. In the 2015 General Election, his ward was carved out as a single seat and saw a three-way fight between Mr Ong, Singapore Democratic Party candidate Sadasivam Veriyah, and independent Samir Salim Neji. Mr Ong took 73 per cent of the vote, above the national average of 69.9 per cent.

In his letter of resignation to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who is PAP's Secretary-General, Mr Ong wrote: "On 12 March 2016, I tendered my resignation as a Member of Parliament to the Speaker. I hereby also tender my resignation as a member of the People's Action Party with immediate effect. I am doing so for personal reasons, and with a heavy heart."

"I am grateful to my Bukit Batok residents for the opportunity to serve them as their MP, and for the strong support they have given me. I have done my best to perform my responsibilities, and deeply apologise for having to step down prematurely."

"I also want to express my strongest appreciation to the grassroots leaders and activists of Bukit Batok for their dedication and commitment in working alongside me to help build and meet the needs of the community. Finally, I would like to thank the Party for enabling me to serve Singapore as an MP over the last six years."

His mid-term resignation is the first since 2012, a year in which two MPs in single seats - one from the PAP, one from the opposition - left their respective parties and triggered by-elections. In February 2012, after rumours of an extramarital affair with a fellow party member, Workers' Party (WP) MP Yaw Shin Leong was expelled from his party. This left the single-seat ward of Hougang vacant, leading to a by-election in May. The WP held onto the long-term opposition ward, with newcomer Png Eng Huat taking 62.1 per cent of the vote.

In December that same year, then-Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer resigned, admitting to an extramarital affair with a staff member of the People's Association who had been working in Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC. The single-seat ward of Punggol East saw a four-way fight in the January 2013 by-election, in which WP candidate Lee Li Lian emerged victorious with 54.5 per cent of the vote. But veteran MP Charles Chong retook the ward for the PAP in the 2015 GE.

PM Lee also posted the statement, Mr Ong's letter, and his letter in reply to Mr Ong on his Facebook page. In his reply to Mr Ong, the Prime Minister wrote: "Thank you for your letter. I deeply regret that I must accept your resignation." He noted that Mr Ong had "served diligently as an MP" in Jurong GRC and Bukit Batok SMC, and cited his work in building up a team of volunteers and community partners and introducing programmes to help the needy in his ward. PM Lee also recognised Mr Ong's speeches in Parliament on issues such as the retirement age and MediShield coverage, and his non-MP roles such as vice-chairman of the annual River Hongbao Festival, President of Basketball Association of Singapore, Patron of the Singapore Brain Tumour Society and Adviser to the Singapore Eng Choon Clan.

"However, having considered the matter carefully, I believe that your decision to resign is in the best interest of your constituents, the Party, your family and yourself," concluded PM Lee. "I thank you for your contributions, and wish you all the best for the future."


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