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THE plot on the fall of former People's Action Party MP Michael Palmer thickened yesterday as it emerged that the woman he had an affair with was concurrently dating another man.
Former People's Association staffmember Laura Ong, 33, was in a serious relationship with logistics manager Andy Lim, even as she was seeing Mr Palmer, The Straits Times has learnt from sources close to her.
Mr Palmer had announced he was quitting as MP and PAP member at a press conference on Wednesday, after admitting to the affair.
Mr Lim, who is in his early 30s, now finds himself at the centre of speculation that Mr Palmer may have decided to resign as MP after a third party sent compelling evidence of his extramarital relationship to a news outlet and possibly other individuals.
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Sources close to Ms Ong say Mr Lim would have been one of very few people who had access to the screen captures of intimate message exchanges between Ms Ong and Mr Palmer. The New Paper received these messages at the weekend and published a selection of them yesterday.
Mr Lim had in all likelihood discovered that his lover was dating another man, the sources added.
Ms Ong is married, but separated from her husband.
According to his profile on social networking site LinkedIn, Mr Lim works as an area service manager in a logistics firm, a post he has held since January last year. He joined the firm in 2006.
He studied at Anglo-Chinese School and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
The Straits Times understands that Ms Ong's relationship with Mr Lim began before the one with Mr Palmer did. It began as early as two years ago, when she started receiving gifts from Mr Lim.
The pair had met in the Punggol South ward, where Mr Lim used to be a grassroots volunteer and Ms Ong was a constituency director from 2006 to last year.
As their relationship developed, they became more open about it, disclosing it to a circle of close friends. Two weeks ago, the pair also posted on Facebook photos of a trip they took to the newly opened Legoland in Malaysia. Ms Ong's Facebook page was deleted before the scandal broke.
Mr Palmer and Ms Ong were both uncontactable yesterday.
Reporters who gathered outside Ms Ong's Marine Parade flat last night were asked to leave after a resident called the police.
Attempts to contact Mr Lim on his mobile phone were also unsuccessful. As the day progressed, it appeared that Mr Lim was trying to erase online information about himself. He deleted his Facebook page and removed his picture and personal information from his LinkedIn page in the afternoon.
Mr Lim was not at home when The Straits Times visited yesterday. His parents, who live with him in the west, said he sometimes spent the night at his grandmother's house, near his office.
The couple acknowledged that they knew about their son's relationship with Ms Ong, but said they did not think it started very long ago. The older Mr Lim added wearily: "We just want them to break it off."
Meanwhile, in another twist to the saga, photos of Ms Ong and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Teo Ser Luck, who has been tasked to take over Mr Palmer's constituency duties, were put up online anonymously.
Mr Teo yesterday said the photos were taken during an overseas retreat for staff and volunteers. Ms Ong was attending the retreat as constituency director of Punggol South, where he used to be the MP. "She was a responsible staffer" was all he would say further of Ms Ong.