Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Workers’ Party MP Raeesah Khan apologises for misleading Parliament over account of sexual assault victim

SINGAPORE — Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan on Monday (Nov 1) admitted that she misled Parliament over a claim that she accompanied a sexual assault victim to a police station where the victim was treated insensitively. In response, Leader of the House Indranee Rajah referred Ms Raeesah’s conduct to Parliament's privileges committee, which looks into any complaint alleging breaches of parliamentary privilege.

Workers’ Party MP Raeesah Khan apologises for misleading Parliament over account of sexual assault victim

Workers' Party MP Raeesah Khan has apologised for misleading Parliament.

  • Ms Raeesah Khan of WP said in Parliament that she had not accompanied the victim of a sexual assault to the police station
  • She had said so in Parliament in August, claiming that the victim had been treated insensitively by police
  • On Nov 1, Ms Raeesah said that she had heard the account from a sexual abuse survivor during a meeting of a women’s support group
  • Ms Raeesah had attended the meeting as she was a victim of sexual assault herself
  • Leader of the House Indranee Rajah said that she will refer Ms Raeesah’s conduct to the Committee of Privileges

 

SINGAPORE — Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan on Monday (Nov 1) admitted that she misled Parliament over a claim that she accompanied a sexual assault victim to a police station where the victim was treated insensitively. In response, Leader of the House Indranee Rajah referred Ms Raeesah’s conduct to Parliament's privileges committee, which looks into any complaint alleging breaches of parliamentary privilege.

Fighting back tears, Ms Raeesah said that she wanted “to apologise to the survivor whose quote I used, to the House, to my constituents, to the WP, its members and volunteers and to my family, especially to my parents”. She also apologised to the police.

Ms Raeesah, an MP for Sengkang Group Representation Constituency (GRC), made the claim about the sexual assault victim in Parliament in August. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the police have since repeatedly asked Ms Raeesah to provide more information so that they could identify the case.

Ms Raeesah initially cited confidentiality as the reason she could not provide further details. On Oct 20, the police said that they had been  unable to identify the case of the rape victim Ms Raeesah mentioned.

Speaking in Parliament on Aug 3, Ms Raeesah said that she had accompanied a 25-year-old rape victim to make a police report three years ago. The victim had come out crying, as the police officer had allegedly made comments about the way she was dressed and the fact that she had been drinking.

During her explanation on Monday, Ms Raeesah disclosed that she was a survivor of a sexual assault herself and had heard about the alleged victim’s experience at the police station during a women’s support group of which Ms Raeesah was a part.

“I did not share that I was part of the group as I did not have the courage to publicly admit that I was part of it. I attended the support group because I myself am a survivor of sexual assault,” Ms Raeesah said in her statement to Parliament.

When asked by Ms Indranee on Monday if she knew the details of the survivor’s trip to the police station and did not want to disclose them because of confidentiality, or if she simply did not know any of the details, Ms Raeesah said that she only knew as much as what she shared in her original speech in August.

“I understand that it’s not going to be able to be verified and hence, I’ve withdrawn my anecdote and apologised to the Singapore Police Force as well.”

In response to Ms Raeesah’s admission, Ms Indranee said that “it was not possible for (her) to leave the matter as it is” as Ms Raeesah had undermined the integrity and trust in Parliament.

As such, Ms Indranee said that she had “no choice” but to raise a complaint under Section 100(7)(b) of the Standing Orders for breach of privilege arising firstly from the disclosure by Ms Raeesah that she had not been been truthful to the Parliament and because she was unable to substantiate the allegations she had made.

Ms Indranee said that she was “reluctantly” referring the matter to the Committee of Privileges, which looks into any complaints of alleged breaches of parliamentary privilege.

Ms Raeesah said on Monday that she had attended the support group because she was sexually assaulted at the age of 18 while she was studying abroad.

She said that “the fear and shame” from the assault had accompanied her till this day but unlike the survivor whom she quoted, she did not have the courage to report her own assault to the police.

“Yet as a survivor, I wanted so deeply to speak up and also share their account I had heard when speaking on the motion, without revealing my own private experience.

“I should not have shared the survivor’s anecdote without her consent, nor should I have said that I accompanied her to the police station when I had not.”

Ms Raeesah acknowledged that she had disregarded the principle of consent in discussions around survivors’ consent and sexual assault.

“As a survivor myself, I feel this failure deeply.”

Apologising to the Singapore Police Force, Ms Raeesah said that she took responsibility for her actions and error of judgement, and asked to retract her original anecdote on Aug 3.

Ms Indranee said that Ms Raeesah’s statement was a “rather startling disclosure, a bit of a bombshell, I might say”.

Responding to Ms Indranee’s clarifications, Ms Raeesah said that when Mr Desmond Tan, Minister of State for Home Affairs, had questioned her in August, she had stood by her account because she wanted to protect the survivor and the women in the support group.

Ms Raeesah added that it was also “really difficult to share a traumatic experience” and disclose that she had been part of the group as well.

When asked why she had not shared the anecdote without saying that she had accompanied the victim to the police station, Ms Raeesah said that it had to do with “not having her own courage to report her own assault”.

“So I felt very compelled to ensure that other survivors who do get the courage to report their assault have to have that process done with respect and with dignity.

“But I recognise the Leader of the House’s comment that it was not the right way to go about it,” Ms Raeesah added.

When asked why she had repeated her untruths when questioned by Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam in Parliament on Oct 4, Ms Raeesah reiterated that she wanted to protect the survivor as well as those in the support group.

“Secondly, a lot of people did not know about this assault until very recently, including my family, so I was not ready at that point to come forward with this information,” Ms Raeesah said.

However, she decided to apologise on Monday after discussing with her family, friends and “informing the relevant people”.

Ms Indranee said that on top of making the police spend their resources to investigate the allegations, Ms Raeesah had also done “great disservice to the survivors of sexual assault and rape victims”.

By relating their stories based on a lie or unwillingness to substantiate them, Ms Raeesah had made it more difficult for them to come forward and tell their stories, Ms Indranee said.

Ms Indranee stressed that it is “very, very important” for MPs, who are granted legal immunity, to speak the truth in the House when raising issues and members must neither breach nor abuse their parliamentary privileges.

Related topics

Parliament Raeesah Khan police sexual assault apology

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