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Singapore Plans By-Election for Seat Held by Former Speaker

Singapore will hold a by-election this month for a seat vacated by its former speaker of Parliament, who resigned from the ruling party after admitting to an extramarital affair.

The vote will be on Jan. 26 if more than one candidate is nominated, the Elections Department said in a statement today. The nomination day for candidates who intend to run in the Punggol East constituency is Jan. 16, it said.

The by-election may be seen as a barometer of support for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whose party retained power in May 2011 general elections with the smallest margin of victory since independence in 1965. In the past year, Lee has cut ministerial pay, accelerated construction of public housing and made permanent a program to provide cash, utility rebates and medical funds for the elderly and low-income households.

The Punggol East seat was vacated by Michael Palmer of the People’s Action Party last month. He won the district, a suburb in north-eastern Singapore, with 54.5 percent of valid votes cast in the May 2011 elections.

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