The Straits Times
Published on Dec 15, 2012

Should MPs' personal lives matter?


MR MICHAEL Palmer's resignation and the Workers' Party's expulsion of Mr Yaw Shin Leong earlier this year have set an unwelcome precedent.

Mr Palmer and Mr Yaw are not the first, and will certainly not be the last, politicians to engage in "improper conduct".

However, if such conduct has not affected their ability to discharge their duties, there is no legitimate reason for them to cease holding public office.

Human beings are fallible, and we live our lives in, for lack of a better term, various shades of grey.

I expect an MP to carry out his duties diligently and with sincerity.

I do not care how he chooses to conduct his personal life.

However, there are instances where a public figure may have to resign after revelations of improper conduct.

For example, in the case of former Central Intelligence Agency director David Petraeus, it can be argued that his affair had implications on national security.

Mr Palmer's conduct is not an example of such an instance.

It is a shame that he had to go.

Simon Huang