Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Why Raeesah Khan might have lied: Pritam Singh and Edwin Tong's testy exchange

SINGAPORE — A testy exchange took place between Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh and Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, at a hearing into a lie told by former WP Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan. 

 

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh (left) and Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, at a hearing by the Committee of Privileges on Dec 10, 2021.

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh (left) and Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, at a hearing by the Committee of Privileges on Dec 10, 2021.

  • Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh said it was not true that party leaders told former MP Raeesah Khan to take her lie in Parliament "to the grave"
  • Mr Singh said during a hearing by a parliamentary committee that Ms Raeesah had told him that she suffers from dissociation, where she talks without thinking
  • He suggested that the Committee of Privileges conduct a psychiatric evaluation of Ms Raeesah
  • Mr Edwin Tong who was on the committee said it was inappropriate for Mr Singh to suggest a psychiatric evaluation

SINGAPORE — A testy exchange took place between Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh and Mr Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, at a hearing into a lie told by former WP Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan. 

During the exchange last Friday, Mr Singh told Parliament’s privileges committee that Ms Raeesah had told him and a WP disciplinary panel late last month that she suffers from dissociation, where she talks without thinking.

This could be why Ms Raeesah told two party members, Ms Loh Pei Ying and Mr Yudhishthra Nathan, in a phone text message that Mr Singh, WP chairman Sylvia Lim and vice-chairman Faisal Manap advised her to take her lie “to the grave”, Mr Singh said.

This was a "complete lie”, the Leader of the Opposition added.

The committee is investigating Ms Raeesah’s conduct after she admitted in Parliament on Nov 1 that she lied to the House over a claim she made on Aug 3, when she said she went with a sexual assault victim to a police station where the victim was treated insensitively.

This did not happen. 

Ms Raeesah resigned from WP and as an MP for Sengkang Group Representation Constituency on Nov 30.

At last Friday's hearing, which lasted over nine hours, Mr Singh suggested that the committee carry out a psychiatric evaluation of Ms Raeesah. To this, Mr Tong said it was “quite inappropriate” to bring that up.

The following is an edited transcript of their exchange. 

 

Mr Edwin Tong: (This text message) is from Raeesah. Let me tell you that this is sent on a group chat where Mr Nathan and Ms Loh were also present. And she says: “Hey guys, I just met with Pritam, Sylvia and Faisal, and we spoke about the Muslim issues and the police accusation. I told them what I told you guys, and they’ve agreed that the best thing to do is to take the information to the grave. They also suggested that I write a statement to send out this evening.” Now, I know you have not seen this message contemporaneously, meaning at that time, but now you've seen her recollection of the meeting that she sent out contemporaneously. Would this be accurate?

Mr Pritam Singh: It would be highly inaccurate. It is a complete lie.

Mr Tong: Let’s break down this statement. First of all, there was a meeting on Aug 8. 

Mr Singh: Absolutely.

Mr Tong: Which ended shortly before this message was sent, at 12.41pm, correct?

Mr Singh: I would think so.

Mr Tong: From your recollection.

Mr Singh: Probably.

Mr Tong: Okay. She then steps out and she sends a message with four sentences. The first says: “I just met with Pritam, Sylvia and Faisal." That’s correct, right?

Mr Singh: Mm-hmm.

Mr Tong: The second is that "we spoke about Muslim issues and the police accusation". That's also correct, right?

Mr Singh: That is correct.

Mr Tong: The third sentence: “I’ve told them what I told you guys and they've agreed that the best thing to do is to take the information to the grave.” The second half of that sentence, you would disagree with, I assume?

Mr Singh: Yeah, because I don't know what the first half of the sentence is, and the second half is a complete lie.

Mr Tong: Okay. The final sentence, “They also suggested that I write a statement to send out this evening", is correct, right?

Mr Singh: It is correct.

Mr Tong: So most of this message is correct, but her recollection of what she was told to do by the three of you as a result of the lie is inaccurate.

Mr Singh: Absolutely. I would go much further than "inaccurate".

Mr Tong: Can I ask you why you think Ms Raeesah might lie like this, emerging from a meeting with you?

Mr Singh: Okay. I know something that she revealed to the Workers’ Party disciplinary panel on Nov 29, which is quite telling to me. And she told the panel that she suffers from dissociation. Now, it was the first time I heard of it. I asked her what dissociation was. She said: “It's when I talk without thinking." And I asked her: “Don't you think that's dangerous for an MP?” And she said: “Yes." So I'm not bringing this up to suggest anything untoward. All I'm suggesting is, it may be helpful for this committee to call for some psychiatric report or evaluation on Ms Raeesah. I say that only with the knowledge of what she shared with me on Nov 29.

Could it be a lie to me? It's possible. But if we're talking about culpability and proportionality, I think it may be helpful. But things do add up now as I hear what was said in the papers and what representation she gave, and what she shared with the committee.

Mr Tong: You see, Mr Singh. This took place on Aug 8. And I was very careful before I started this line of inquiry to ask you if you thought that there was anything untoward, unusual about Ms Raeesah’s performance as an MP.

Mr Singh: No, no, no. That was not your question. If you checked back, you asked me... That’s earlier, but immediately before, you asked me what was my view of these messages.

Mr Tong: Yes, I did, but when I started this afternoon after the break, I did ask you about her general performance and I think you told me that there was nothing that came to your attention that suggested that there was anything unusual about her performance.

Mr Singh: Yes, of course, but you're asking me about this particular message.

Mr Tong: Yes, I am. But I'm now asking you to recall that I did start this afternoon's questions...

Mr Singh: I'm not disputing that.

Mr Tong: And so your answer was that she was normal. There was nothing unusual that stood out.

Mr Singh: No, vis-a-vis what you asked me on the message of Sept 27, that’s my answer. Yes.

Mr Tong: And I also asked you about her performance generally.

Mr Singh: There was nothing out of the ordinary to me.

Mr Tong: Okay. So I'm not sure it's fair to characterise what she told you on (Nov) 29...

Mr Singh: Chair (Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin), I seek your indulgence...

Mr Tong: No. Let me finish.

Mr Singh: I think that question needs to be read out by Mr Tong to me again, so I can be given a chance to explain why I answered it the way I did, because it was an open-ended question. You asked me why she would have said that...

Mr Tong: (Interrupting) Let me finish.

Mr Singh: And I know certain facts that I know now and I believe I’m entitled to share that.

Mr Tong: Mr Singh, let me finish. I asked you a question and I said why it is you think she might lie? And you offered us what happened on Nov 29. And I'm saying to you that in the context of the circumstances that I see, and I can’t speak for my members, my colleagues on this committee. But in the context of what I see, evidence that you have given, I'm not sure that the event that you mentioned on Nov 29 is basis for us to call for a psychiatric assessment of Ms Raeesah. And I’m putting that across to you and I don't think it is appropriate for us to have that debate now.

Mr Singh: I'm not having a debate about it. I'm just replying to the question.

Mr Tong: And I really think it is quite inappropriate to bring that up and suggest to this committee to seek a psychiatric assessment of Ms Raeesah.

Mr Singh: Mr Tong, you asked me for my view. I've given my view. What you decide is the committee's prerogative. I've just put my view across. I have this evidence. I know this knowledge. She told it to me and I’m sharing it with the committee.

Mr Tong: Mr Singh, I think we know why you raised that suggestion and I think it is not appropriate.

Mr Singh: Mr Tong, I have notes. What you want to believe, and what you want to take into account, is your prerogative. You asked me a question why and I've given an answer. You don't want to deal with it, you want to ignore it, that's your call.

Mr Tong: Let's come back to this.

Mr Singh: Yes, please.

Mr Tong: This is a message in writing.

Mr Singh: Yes, not to me.

Mr Tong: Yes. Anything that she might have told you, which gave rise to what you might have concluded on Nov 29 concerns speaking without thinking, in your words? 

Mr Singh: I think that’s what she said, yes. I’m not changing that, but that could mean the same thing, in my view.

Mr Tong: So here, she stepped out of the meeting with you in August. She put her thoughts down in writing and sent it to her two closest associates.

Mr Singh: Yes.

Mr Tong: Let me suggest to you that there really is no reason for her to lie to them. Correct?

Mr Singh: On what basis do you make that suggestion?

Mr Tong: Because she by now has confessed to you, to Ms Lim, to Mr Faisal. She knows that, according to you, it has to be clarified.

Mr Singh: Yes.

Mr Tong: And she’s also confessed it to Mr Nathan and Ms Loh, and sought counsel from them as to what to do. So why would she go to the senior leadership of the Workers' Party, and then lie in a closed forum to her own associates who are helping her about your reaction? How would that help her?

Mr Singh: Mr Tong, I cannot answer how it would help her. I can only tell you what she told us, what I told her, what was communicated in my house on Aug 8. And this rendition of what has happened is a complete, utter fabrication. It's a lie. It's a bare lie.

Related topics

Raeesah Khan Pritam Singh edwin tong Parliament Committee of Privileges Workers' Party WP

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.