Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

What a psychiatrist appointed by Parliament’s privileges committee said about Raeesah Khan

SINGAPORE — A psychiatrist appointed by a parliamentary committee cleared former Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan of having mental conditions, including dissociation and post-traumatic stress disorder. He also testified that she was mentally fit and of sound mind when making statements in Parliament and during the committee’s hearings.

What a psychiatrist appointed by Parliament’s privileges committee said about Raeesah Khan

Dr Christopher Cheok, a senior consultant from the department of forensic psychiatry at the Institute of Mental Health, at a hearing with Parliament's Committee of Privileges.

  • A psychiatrist from the Institute of Mental Health was appointed by a parliamentary committee to assess Ms Raeesah Khan’s mental health
  • He said that she did not suffer from dissociation or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • He also said that she was mentally fit and of sound mind when speaking in Parliament and at the committee’s hearings
  • He disagreed with the possibility that trauma from a past sexual assault could have led to Ms Raeesah sending out a message that selectively contained a lie

SINGAPORE — A psychiatrist appointed by a parliamentary committee cleared former Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan of having mental conditions, including dissociation and post-traumatic stress disorder. He also testified that she was mentally fit and of sound mind when making statements in Parliament and during the committee’s hearings.

The question over Ms Raeesah’s mental health arose after Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh told the Committee of Privileges on Dec 10 that the former WP MP had told him and a party disciplinary panel late last month that she suffers from dissociation, where she talks without thinking.

Mr Singh then suggested that the committee carry out a psychiatric evaluation of Ms Raeesah. 

Mr Singh as well as WP chairperson Sylvia Lim and vice-chair Faisal Manap had made several assertions regarding Ms Khan’s mental condition when they gave evidence to this committee, it noted in a special report on Wednesday.

The committee said that Ms Raeesah agreed to undergo an independent psychiatric assessment with Dr Christopher Cheok, the acting chief of the department of forensic psychiatry as well as a senior consultant at the Institute of Mental Health.

Dr Cheok assessed Ms Raeesah on Dec 17 and 20 and interviewed her husband before Wednesday’s hearing. 

He also reviewed recordings of Ms Raeesah speaking in Parliament on Aug 3, Oct 4 and Nov 1 as well as her testimonies before the committee on Dec 2 and Dec 3.

‘SHE KNEW WHAT SHE WAS DOING’

The report on Wednesday summarised Dr Cheok’s assessment of Ms Raeesah’s mental state.

Dr Cheok said that Ms Raeesah did not suffer any significant psychiatric disorder that would have impaired her ability to speak truthfully in Parliament or at the committee’s hearings.

She was of sound mind, and was mentally fit and present to make the statements that she did. 

“What she said was done out of her own will and she knew what she was doing,” the report stated.

Dr Cheok said that Ms Raeesah had not told her lie in Parliament on Aug 3 impulsively or as a result of dissociation or any other psychiatric disorder.

It was possible that such untruths could be told as a result of bad judgement, rather than because of any mental illness, Dr Cheok said.

She did not suffer from any disorder that would predispose her to telling untruths. She also did not have post-traumatic stress disorder, he added.

RAEESAH DID NOT SUFFER FROM DISSOCIATION

Dr Cheok told the committee that dissociation is a symptom, not a medical diagnosis. It refers to the loss of the integrative function of the human mind and may be experienced by normal persons in different situations.

The psychiatrist did not assess Ms Raeesah, who resigned last month from WP and as MP, as suffering from dissociation.

Dr Cheok said the former MP told him that her psychotherapist had told her that she had dissociation. 

However, he did not believe that she fully understood what dissociation was, based on his conversations with her.

Dr Cheok explained to the committee that those who suffer from dissociative identity disorder, commonly known as multiple identity disorder, would typically have gone through repeated childhood trauma. They would also switch between different identities or speak in different voices.

Dr Cheok told the committee that Ms Raeesah, who had said that she was a sexual assault victim, did not fit this description.

In Parliament in August, Ms Raeesah alleged that a sexual assault victim was treated insensitively at a police station when she was there with the woman.  

She later admitted that she had lied and that she was not present at the station. She heard the account from someone at women's support group she attended meant for sexual assault survivors and she herself was a victim of a past sexual assault.

QUESTIONS ABOUT TRAUMA AFFECTING HER DECISIONS

The committee asked Dr Cheok if Ms Raeesah’s trauma from her sexual assault would affect her decision-making on matters relating to her lie in Parliament.

The committee also asked him why Ms Raeesah would have lied if that were not the case.

The report noted that Dr Cheok said he could not comment on Ms Raeesah’s motivations.

The committee said: “However, it was clear to (Dr Cheok) that Ms Raeesah did not dissociate, and was of sound mind, when she prepared and delivered her Aug 3 Parliament statement.”

The committee noted that WP party leaders had testified to say Ms Raeesah would get emotional when her sexual assault was mentioned. 

It asked Dr Cheok how to reconcile his finding that Ms Raeesah did not suffer from post-traumatic disorder or dissociation with the WP leaders’ testimonies.

In his response, Dr Cheok said that a sexual assault is one of the most traumatic experiences for someone to go through and it was very normal and understandable for them to show emotion when the topic is mentioned.

Dr Cheok did not deny that Ms Raeesah had some symptoms of being psychologically traumatised, but he was of the view that the symptoms did not reach the threshold of a psychiatric disorder, the committee said in its report.

Dr Cheok was of the view that it is normal for a sexual assault survivor to have anxiety when speaking on the topic, but this does not mean that the person is mentally impaired or incapacitated.

Ms Raeesah might have continued to feel upset about her experience, but her judgement and decision-making capacity were not impaired, he added.

On whether Ms Raeesah could have created false memories as a result of the trauma from her sexual assault, Dr Cheok reiterated to the committee that Ms Raeesah was not affected to an extent that caused her to lose her mental capacity.

The committee also asked Dr Cheok if someone who is suffering from trauma, but is still generally high-functioning, could send out a message that selectively contained a lie.

In response, Dr Cheok said that it is generally possible but there may be other explanations as to why someone may lie.

In Ms Raeesah’s case, the psychiatrist disagreed with the possibility that trauma could have led to her sending out such a message.

Related topics

Workers' Party Raeesah Khan psychiatrist Committee of Privileges WP mental health sexual assault

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.

Aa