When the Yaw Shin Leong scandal hit, I wrote a posting on what I thought about such personal misconduct and the ability of someone holding public to perform. Going through the track record of politicians whose infidelity they were able to hide when they were in office, their ability to lead is uncorrelated with what they do in their private lives - examples include Franklin Roosevelt, JFK, Mitterrand etc [Full article here]. It is important for us to treat these types of personal scandals differently from corruption. As I explained in my earlier article, any political party that tries to make political gains and project moral superiority over the other side when such scandals occur risks being accused of double standards and looking hypocritical when the same happens in their own party:
"I think it is sad that the voters in Hougang have been misled." - Khaw Boon Wan
Remember the media frenzy and speculation once the YSL scandal broke - it gave the WP little breathing space to craft a proper response. The paparazzi style reporting hurt WP's reputation after its credible election performance. A very unseasoned and unadvised/poorly advised, YSL, handled the pressure badly trying to evade it rather than coming clean and taking responsibility. It left the WP with little room to maneuver and they had to salvage the situation by sacking YSL.
In Michael Palmer case the media behaved a lot better and his resignation well orchestrated - Palmer even appeared with his wife to say farewell to his grassroots leaders and handed his responsibilities to Teo Ser Luck.
There is just no way for any political parties to prevent or hush up such scandals in this day and age short of having their members spied on and followed round the clock - even honest people succumb to their lust and many are vulnerable to momentary weakness of this nature. Political parties have to be ready for "damage control" when it occurs and handle the situation in a way that does not lose the confidence of the public. Many in our society still have moralistic responses to such scandals but remember the politician is only human and they are already punished enough from the shame and hurt they cause to themselves and their families - so there is no need for the public and media to add to this. There are many things leaders can do that are far more harmful than having an affair- they can start wars, build casinos, ruin the economy and implement bad policies that hurt the people. Lets not be so fixated with these scandals and make the people embroiled in them go through hell when they have already suffered enough pain from their own failings,