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SINGAPORE — Former Sengkang Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan reiterated on Wednesday (22 December) that she was told by Workers' Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh to maintain the lies she had told in Parliament and to "take it to the grave".
Appearing before the Committee of Privileges (COP) for a third time, she was asked to respond to Singh's testimony that she had lied about being instructed by senior party leaders to keep up the deception. "Of course I completely disagree," said the 27-year-old in a strained voice.
"I have come here to tell the truth, and I’ve made an oath to do so as well, and I’ve never strayed from that," added Raeesah, stressing that the phrase "take it to the grave" was not one she would ordinarily use, and that it was Singh who had uttered it.
Raeesah resigned as an MP and WP member last month after admitting that she had lied about her interactions with an alleged sexual assault victim. The mother of two also took issue with Singh and WP chair Sylvia Lim's testimony that she was suffering from a mental condition, which could have affected her ability to tell the truth before the COP.
Alluding to their claim that she had been distraught at an 8 August meeting where she confessed her lies, Raeesah said, "If I was not able to have a discussion on this issue, then why would I be left on my own to make a decision as they have claimed?"
She added, "To use mental illness as a way to discredit someone, I think is extremely out of line.”
Raeesah also expressed concern that using a person’s mental health to discredit them (as Singh and Lim had done) would set back the movement to progress mental health awareness and support. Attributing such labels on people would discourage them from seeking help, when they needed it.
3 Oct visit from Pritam Singh
Earlier this month, Raeesah told the COP that Singh, Lim and WP vice-chair Faisal Manap had advised her to maintain the lie she told Parliament on 3 August about accompanying an alleged rape victim to a police station and her allegations over insensitive remarks by a police officer.
On Wednesday, Raeesah also disputed other aspects of the WP chief's testimony, reiterating that he had told her during a meeting at her home on 3 October that he would not judge her if she did not come clean about her lies.
She claimed that at the meeting, the Leader of the Opposition did not use the words “take ownership and responsibility” to her, nor did he tell her to clarify the lie in Parliament. She also confirmed that after Singh left her house, there was no further discussion on how she might approach the issue if it came up.
The following day, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam confronted Raeesah on her allegations in Parliament. She confirmed that afterwards, when she met with him, she had indeed said, “Perhaps there is another way. That is, to tell the truth.”
She also agreed with Lim’s account, that Singh responded by asking Raeesah if she hadn’t already chosen a path. However, she claimed to be shocked by Singh’s response because there had been no intention or directive from him to tell the truth at that time.
Psychiatrist testimony: Raeesah has no mental health condition
During his testimony before the COP last Friday, Singh said that Raeesah had told the party's disciplinary panel that she might have disassociation, a psychological condition that affects one's sense of identity and perception of time. He then asked the COP to consider asking Raeesah to undergo a psychological assessment.
In this regard, psychiatrist Dr Christopher Cheok of the Institute of Mental Health assessed her twice in December. The acting chief of the Department of Forensic Psychiatry also interviewed Raeesah's husband, and closest next-of-kin, and reviewed the relevant recordings of Raeesah speaking in Parliament as well as her testimony before the COP.
Dr Cheok told the COP on Wednesday that in his assessment, Raeesah did not suffer from any significant psychiatric disorder that would have impaired her ability to speak truthfully during the relevant Parliament sittings or before the COP. She was of sound mind and knew what she was doing, he testified.
Asked about her mental state at the 3 August parliament sitting, Dr Cheok said that it was neither done impulsively, nor 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.
He added that it was a normal reaction, for a sexual assault survivor to try to compartmentalise or suppress that memory. She does not suffer from any psychiatric disorder that would predispose her to telling untruths.
On his finding that Raeesah did not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or dissociation, Dr Cheok was asked to reconcile this with Singh, Lim, and Faisal's testimony that she would get emotional whenever her sexual assault was mentioned.
In response, he did not deny that while she had some symptoms of being psychologically traumatised, he was of the view that the symptoms did not reach the threshold of a psychiatric disorder. It was a normal reaction for someone who had gone through a traumatic experience, to continue to have some anxiety when speaking about the topic.
Separately, the trio of WP leaders were summoned to appear before the COP on Monday to produce any documents germane to Raeesah's conduct and the disciplinary panel convened to look into her. Pursuant to this, Singh, Lim and Faisal did so and produced certain documents.
They also confirmed in writing that they had produced all documents required by the COP.