If not dealt with properly, privileges committee's findings against WP leaders will 'dishonour' Parliament: PM Lee
SINGAPORE — It would reflect badly on the Worker’s Party (WP) leaders, and in particular on Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, should it be established that they had instructed former party member Raeesah Khan to lie to Parliament and that they themselves had lied under oath, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.
- PM Lee Hsien Loong said if it were true that WP leaders had lied to the Committee of Privileges, this would be more serious than Ms Raeesah Khan lying in Parliament
- This is because they would have sought to frustrate the committee's process if so
- It would also amount to perjury, which is a serious criminal offence
- Mr Lee said Parliament cannot pretend nothing had happened or lower its standards by arguing that no harm was done by the untruths
SINGAPORE — It would reflect badly on the Workers’ Party (WP) leaders, and in particular on Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, should it be established that they had instructed former party member Raeesah Khan to lie to Parliament and that they themselves had lied under oath, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.
If it were indeed true that they had lied to the Committee of Privileges to protect themselves, cover up their role and push the blame solely onto Ms Raeesah, this would be more serious than what she did, as they would have sought to frustrate the committee's process, he added.
And these problems, if not dealt with properly, would “dishonour Parliament and bring this august institution into disrepute”, Mr Lee said.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 15) during the debate on the findings and recommendations by the Committee of Privileges, which had been convened to investigate Ms Raeesah for lying in Parliament about accompanying a sexual assault victim to a police station.
The committee released its final report to Parliament last week, recommending that Ms Raeesah be fined S$35,000 for lying to the House multiple times and abusing her parliamentary privilege. Ms Raeesah has since given up her post as Member of Parliament (MP) for Sengkang Group Representation Constituency.
As for Mr Singh and Mr Faisal Manap, WP's vice-chairman, the committee recommended that they be referred to the Public Prosecutor to consider if criminal proceedings ought to be brought against them, due to Mr Singh's conduct during the committee's probe and Mr Faisal's refusal to answer relevant questions.
Mr Lee noted that during the committee’s deliberations, two significant issues arose:
- First, whether the three WP leaders had instructed Ms Raeesah to continue her lie in Parliament after she had confessed to them about it
- Second, whether after they had taken solemn oaths to tell the truths to the committee, they had instead lied to cover up their instructions to her
“In this case, not once or twice but repeatedly, over many hours of extensive questioning, and on several days,” Mr Lee added. “They are not just breaches of parliamentary privilege, but if proven in court, they amount to perjury — lying under oath. And perjury is a serious criminal offence.”
Referring to a speech delivered earlier on Tuesday by Leader of the House Indranee Rajah to open the debate, Mr Lee reiterated that if the committee's findings are true, it would mean that the WP leaders had displayed the same kind of misconduct that the Committee of Privileges had been set up to address in the first place.
“They betrayed the trust reposed in them as MPs, and not least Mr Singh, the Leader of the Opposition,” Mr Lee said.
Mr Lee made reference to former WP secretary-general and Mr Singh's predecessor Low Thia Khiang, describing him as a “patriotic Singaporean” who had hoped that his party could help build a First World Parliament for Singapore.
“He must be saddened that, instead, this is what his successor has done,” Mr Lee said, adding that what has happened is a betrayal of what the opposition party claims to stand for.
Given the committee's findings, Mr Lee said that Parliament cannot pretend nothing had happened. It also could not lower its standards "just a little” by noting that untruths were told yet argue that no harm was done.
“If we do either of these things, we, too, would become complicit in dishonouring and demeaning Parliament,” he said. “We must take the transgression seriously and act on it.”
Related topicsLee Hsien Loong Pritam Singh Raeesah Khan Parliament Committee of Privileges Workers' Party WP
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