Tuesday January 8, 2013
Singapore to get first woman Speaker after scandal
SINGAPORE - A Muslim woman will replace the former Speaker of Singapore's parliament, who was forced to step down in a sex scandal, it was announced Tuesday.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he would nominate Halimah Yacob, currently minister of state at the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, for the post when parliament sits next Monday.
She will be the country's first female Speaker.
Halimah, 58, will replace Michael Palmer, 44, who abruptly resigned last month after publicly confessing he had an extramarital affair with a community worker in the latest high-profile sex scandal to hit the city-state.
Halimah, who must resign from the cabinet before she takes up her new post, has extensive experience in the labour movement, social work and pre-school education.
"In cabinet, Halimah spoke up with a practical, compassionate voice, helping us to shape effective policies with a human touch," Lee said in a statement.
Singapore's small and diverse opposition parties have urged Lee to call a by-election in the Punggol East ward vacated by Palmer, a married father of one who said he quit "to avoid further embarrassment" to the ruling party and parliament.
The 87-member parliament is dominated by the People's Action Party, which has governed the island-republic continuously since 1959. There are currently only six opposition members in parliament. - AFP