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Raeesah Khan testifies to privileges committee that WP leaders told her to keep to lie made in Parliament

SINGAPORE — Former Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament Raeesah Khan has given evidence to the Committee of Privileges that she had been told by WP leaders to stick to the lie she had made in Parliament on Aug 3.

Ms Raeesah Khan at a hearing by Parliament's Committee of Privileges on Dec 2, 2021.

Ms Raeesah Khan at a hearing by Parliament's Committee of Privileges on Dec 2, 2021.

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  • Speaking under oath, former MP Raeesah Khan said she was told by WP leaders to keep to a lie that she had made in Parliament 
  • They also told her that if she and the party "could get away with it, there was no need to clarify the lie"
  • WP volunteers who testified said the party’s disciplinary panel was "self-serving"
  • This was because it was made up solely of the same WP leaders who knew Ms Raeesah had lied 
  • Ms Raeesah also disputed assertions by WP chief Pritam Singh that she was ordered to clarify the truth and that she would be expelled from WP if she didn’t resign 

 

SINGAPORE — Former Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament Raeesah Khan has given evidence to the Committee of Privileges that she had been told by WP leaders to stick to a lie she had made in Parliament on Aug 3. 

She also testified under oath that she was told by the leaders — WP chief Pritam Singh, chairman Sylvia Lim and vice-chairman Faisal Manap — that if she and the party could get away with it, there was no need to clarify the lie.

These were detailed in a report that the Committee of Privileges has submitted to Parliament and made public on the Parliament website. Apart from the report, the video recordings of all the hearings were also made available publicly. 

The committee, chaired by Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, was looking into Ms Raeesah's conduct after she  admitted on Nov 1 that she had lied in Parliament. This was over a  claim that she had accompanied a sexual assault victim to a police station where the victim was treated insensitively.

Ms Raeesah, then an MP for Sengkang Group Representation Constituency (GRC), made the claim about the sexual assault victim in Parliament in August. After that, she turned down the repeated requests by the  Ministry of Home Affairs and the  police to provide more information so that they could identify the case.

During her admission on Nov 1, Ms Raeesah said that she was a survivor of a sexual assault herself and had heard about the alleged victim’s experience during a women’s support group she attended. 

On Thursday, Mr Singh revealed in a press conference that  WP leaders knew in August that Ms Raeesah had lied. However, the party did not act on it any earlier because he had wanted to give her time to talk to her family about the matter, and because she had to be the one to correct the untruth in Parliament.

This account was disputed by Ms Raeesah, who gave evidence to the Committee of Privileges on Thursday and Friday. 

She also disagreed with Mr Singh’s assertion during the press conference that she was ordered to clarify the truth in Parliament in October but she had acted contrary to it.

Ms Raeesah told the Committee of Privileges that there was no order for her to clarify the facts in October and no one from WP advised her to tell the truth.

During the WP press conference, Mr Singh also said that the party's disciplinary panel had told Ms Raeesah that if she did not resign of her own accord, she would be expelled from WP.

Ms Raeesah said that this was not said to her. When she met the panel on Nov 29, it was suggested to her that she should resign, “as it was for her well-being and because she had lost the support of her Sengkang GRC MPs”, the Committee of Privileges’ report stated.

WHAT WP LEADERS SAID WHEN THEY FOUND OUT SHE LIED

Based on the video recording of the hearings, Ms Raeesah said that on Aug 7, she spoke briefly with Mr Singh on the phone and informed him that her statement in Parliament on Aug 3 was untrue. The next day, she met with Mr Singh, Ms Lim and Mr Faisal. 

She said that the three WP leaders reacted with “incredibile disappointment” and “a lot of anger” but there was “some compassion as well”. 

She noted that Mr Singh’s initial reaction was for her to come clean to the Committee of Privileges but he changed his mind after she explained the circumstances that led her to lie.  

In the end, the three WP leaders told her that:

  • The best thing for her to do would be to continue with the narrative that she had already given in Parliament on Aug 3 (meaning, keep to the lie)
  • If Ms Raeesah and the WP could get away with it, there was no need to clarify the lie. If the matter was brought up again, there would also be no need for her to clarify and there was no need for the truth to be told

On Aug 8, Ms Raeesah also told Ms Loh Pei Ying, her secretarial assistant, and Mr Yudhishthra Nathan, a volunteer with WP, what had transpired at her meeting with the three WP leaders. 

She told them in a WhatsApp message that Mr Singh, Ms Lim and Mr Faisal "agreed that the best thing to do is to take the information to the grave". 

On Oct 3, Mr Singh visited Ms Raeesah at her home and told her that if she kept to her existing narrative, there would be no judgement by him, Ms Raeesah said.

Ms Raeesah told the Committee of Privileges that she received an email from the police dated Oct 7, inviting her to assist them in investigating the matters she had raised on Aug 3 in Parliament. 

She testified that she then sought advice from Mr Singh and Ms Lim, and they “directed her not to respond to the police and to ignore the requests, as the police could not compel (Ms Raeesah) to speak with the police”. 

Ms Raeesah told the committee she was concerned that she would be giving a statement without privileges if she had gone to the police, “as opposed to making a clarification in Parliament, where she would have privileges”.

'SELF-SERVING' DISCIPLINARY PANEL 

Ms Loh and Mr Nathan also testified at the Committee of Privileges hearings. 

The committee’s report stated that Ms Loh said she and Mr Nathan were surprised when the WP set up a disciplinary panel on Nov 2.

Ms Loh felt that the panel’s composition was “self-serving” given that it was made up solely of the same three WP leaders — Mr Singh, Ms Lim and Mr Faisal — who “were the very people… who had known that what Ms Khan had said was untrue”.

On his part, Mr Nathan agreed that the panel “was self-serving, and that it had contributed to an uninformed, biased and jaundiced view of the incident, because it had invited WP members and volunteers to give their views on the incident without revealing that Ms Raeesah had acted with the guidance of senior WP leaders (who were precisely the members of the panel itself)”. 

The report said Ms Loh testified that it “pained her to have to say all this” about WP. 

It added: “She had no agenda, and had been a member of the Workers’ Party for 10 years and gave the cause a reasonable amount of her personal time and youth. She appreciated the ramifications of what she shared but to her, beyond anything else, she felt that it is important to be truthful to the country. Ms Loh was tearing as she said this.”

A summary of the key points from evidence given by Mr Yudhishthra Nathan to Parliament's Committee of Privileges on Dec 3, 2021. Source: Committee of Privileges report

The  full report by the Committee of Privileges is available on the Parliament  website.

Related topics

Workers' Party WP Raeesah Khan Politics Parliament Sengkang GRC sexual assault

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