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Sylvia Lim testifies WP needed time to 'carefully structure' Raeesah Khan's clarification after she repeated lie: Privileges committee

SINGAPORE — Workers' Party (WP) chair Sylvia Lim did not think it was possible for then-Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan to admit that her earlier anecdote about accompanying a sexual assault victim was a lie when Parliament sat on Oct 5. This was because time was needed to carefully structure her clarification and ensure that she was comfortable with it.

Workers' Party chair Sylvia Lim (pictured) giving evidence to Parliament's Committee of Privileges.

Workers' Party chair Sylvia Lim (pictured) giving evidence to Parliament's Committee of Privileges.

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  • WP chair Sylvia Lim testified to the Committee of Privileges that she felt frustrated when then-MP Raeesah Khan repeated a lie in Parliament
  • Ms Raeesah did this on Oct 4, which amounted to "doubling down" on the untruth, she said
  • Ms Lim did not believe it was possible for Ms Raeesah to correct her claim the next day in Parliament
  • This was because WP needed time to craft her clarification to ensure she was comfortable with it

SINGAPORE — Workers' Party (WP) chair Sylvia Lim did not think it was possible for then-Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan to admit that her earlier anecdote about accompanying a sexual assault victim was a lie when Parliament sat on Oct 5. This was because time was needed to carefully structure her clarification and ensure that she was comfortable with it.

Ms Lim said that she formed this view on Oct 4 after Ms Raeesah repeated her lie when she was questioned about her account by Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam. Parliament continued its October session on the 5th.

Giving her testimony to the Parliament's Committee of Privileges on Monday (Dec 13), Ms Lim also said that Ms Raeesah's initial clarification on Aug 3 — the day she first told the lie in Parliament — was drafted by WP's chief Pritam Singh, who at that time did not know that her account was untrue. 

Ms Raeesah said then that the police had made insensitive remarks to the victim, but clarified later during the parliamentary session that she was not trying to cast aspersions on the police and it should not be interpreted to be so. She delivered her speech during a parliamentary motion on empowering women.

Ms Lim said that this initial clarification ended up "doubling down" on the lie, an incident that serves as a reminder of how things had to be done with due deliberation. 

On Ms Raeesah's account to the committee that WP's leaders had told her at the Aug 8 meeting to take her untruth “to the grave”, Ms Lim said that she disagreed it.

Mr Singh earlier denied asking Ms Raeesah to do this when he testified before the committee last week. 

Ms Lim's testimony was recorded on the committee’s fourth report on the hearings into Ms Raeesah's lies in Parliament. It was released on Tuesday.

The WP chair also said that she was "very frustrated" when she heard Ms Raeesah repeat the lies during the Oct 4 Parliament sitting and it seemed like no progress had been made in getting her to correct the record. 

She added that she did not know what Mr Singh had discussed or agreed with Ms Raeesah on what she was to do if the issue was raised in Parliament, but she believed that Mr Singh would not have given Ms Raeesah the option to continue lying. 

After Ms Raeesah repeated her lies in the Oct 4 sitting, Ms Lim said that she discussed the issue with Mr Singh and Ms Raeesah twice that day, once in the afternoon and another time at night. 

She was trying to ascertain Ms Raeesah's emotional state and on what her plans were.

However, they did not ask her if she spoke to her parents yet of her own sexual assault and they did not expressly tell her to come clean.

Ms Raeesah finally admitted to lying on Nov 1 when Parliament was in session. She explained that she lied because she was not ready to go public about being a sexual assault victim herself and that she had heard of this account from another victim attending a women's support group together with her.

Before their meeting on Oct 4, the only time Ms Lim spoke with Ms Raeesah about her lie was during a meeting on Aug 8 with her, Mr Singh as well as WP vice-chair Faisal Manap. This was when Ms Raeesah first admitted to them that she made up the encounter at the police station.

At the time, even though Ms Lim knew that it was a serious and grave matter that needed to be addressed, she did not discuss how and when it should be corrected, or the next steps Ms Raeesah would have to take, since she would have to speak to her parents first about her sexual assault.

It was only at another meeting on Oct 12 that Mr Singh and Ms Lim told Ms Raeesah that she had to make the correction.

Ms Lim told the committee that this was the first time that the leaders clearly told Ms Raeesah to clarify the lie in Parliament.

She said that both she and Mr Singh were angry and told Ms Raeesah that she had no choice but to come clean at the next available parliamentary sitting, which was in November. 

Ms Lim recalled that Ms Raeesah was quite reluctant at first to own up about the lie, but she eventually agreed that this was the best thing to do.


As for the police request to interview Ms Raeesah, which was sent to her by email on Oct 7, Ms Lim said that she told the MP then that it was all right not to respond since she was going to clarify the matter in Parliament. 

After she admitted to her lies in Parliament on Nov 1, WP set up a disciplinary panel made up of Ms Lim, Mr Singh and Mr Faisal the next day. 

The panel held interviews with Ms Raeesah on Nov 8 and 29. 

Among other things, they discussed the actions she took to address her psychological needs. Ms Raeesah had submitted documents from a psychotherapist indicating that she was undergoing therapy.

The panel verified that Ms Raeesah did attend a women's support group for sexual assault survivors in 2018 and 2019. 

Although the panel also invited WP members to share their views on Nov 10, Ms Lim said she did not think that WP leaders' prior knowledge of Ms Raeesah's confession had to be disclosed to members who came forward, nor did she think that it was relevant to the work of the panel. 


Associate Professor Jamus Lim, MP for Sengkang Group Representation Constituency who also testified before the committee on Dec 13, said that members of WP’s central executive committee (CEC) met on Oct 29, where they were first informed that Ms Raeesah had earlier lied in Parliament.

They then discussed her draft statement that she was going to deliver in Parliament on why she had fabricated the account earlier. 

Assoc Prof Lim said some WP members felt that for Ms Raeesah to disclose that she was a victim of sexual assault, it could sound like an excuse, but he felt that it was important for her to state this. 

He did not know that Ms Raeesah had earlier confessed to the WP leaders about her lie.

He learnt about the events leading up to the confession only when they became public information. 

When asked if he thought that the CEC should be told of what had happened and if the disciplinary panel should not be involved in the episode and surrounding circumstances so that they could investigate without any personal interest in the matter, Assoc Prof Lim said that he trusted the WP leaders to provide material facts to the CEC. 

And given that the leaders did not tell the CEC members anything, he trusted that the facts were not material.

He added that if Ms Raeesah had planned to eventually confess, then her earlier admission to party leaders would not have been material.

However, if the leaders did tell her to stick to the lie — which was what Ms Raeesah testified to the committee — then they would have had to tell other members what they had known earlier because it would have been material information that needed to be disclosed.

The Committee of Privileges said in its latest report — the fourth that has been released so far — that it will call on more people to provide evidence if there is a need, and it will present its findings and recommendations to Parliament in due course.

The report and video recording of the testimonies have been made available to Parliament as well as to the public on the Parliament's website.

Ms Lim's notes on an exchange between Mr Singh and Ms Raeesah

Mr Singh: Before October session, I met you + I told you it was your call. Did need to tell the truth in Parliament occur to you?

Ms Raeesah: Yes but consumed with guilt + own experience. Thought it wouldn’t come up.

Mr Singh: Can’t lie, right?

Ms Raeesah: Yes. 

Ms Lim provided a copy of the above exchange to Parliament's privileges committee, which she said were as close to verbatim as possible, and had been taken down as the conversation between Mr Singh and Ms Raeesah were taking place during an interview with Workers' Party's disciplinary panel on Nov 29. 

They were talking about an Oct 3 meeting just between the two of them, which Ms Lim said she was not aware of until the next day. 

When asked for her views on what Mr Singh told Ms Raeesah, Ms Lim said he seemed to be telling her that it was for her to decide what to do if the issue came up in Parliament.

She could not "fathom" the possibility that Mr Singh would have given Ms Raeesah a choice between telling the truth and lying again. 

Mr Singh testified earlier that when he met Ms Raeesah on Oct 3, he did not specifically tell her to admit the truth. He told her that the issue might surface on Oct 4 in Parliament and, if it did, that she should “take responsibility and ownership of the issue”.

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Workers' Party Raeesah Khan Pritam Singh Committee of Privileges WP Sylvia Lim

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