Raeesah testified WP chief Pritam Singh and leaders advised her to maintain lie in Parliament: Committee of Privileges report

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SINGAPORE — The Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh and two other leaders had advised former Sengkang Member of Parliament Raeesah Khan 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, said a Committee of Privileges (COP) special report released on Friday (3 December), citing Raeesah's testimony.

On 3 October, a day before a parliamentary sitting, Singh visited Raeesah at her home and told her “that if she kept to her existing narrative on the untruths which she had said on 3 Aug, there would be no judgement by him (Mr Pritam Singh),” the report said.

Raeesah understood, from what Singh said, that he was advising her to continue to lie, should the matter come up on 4 October during the parliamentary session, the report added.

On 4 October, Raeesah was questioned by Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam in Parliament. She was asked if the incident that she had recounted in August had in fact taken place.

Raeesah then maintained her lie and said that what she had related on 3 August was true, and that the incident had taken place as described by her.

Also giving evidence to the COP were Loh Pei Ying, Raeesah’s secretarial assistant, Yudhishthra Nathan, a volunteer with WP, and Lim Hang Ling, a WP member and Legislative Assistant.

Raeesah told Singh about the untruth on 7 August

On 3 August, after Raeesah’s speech, Singh asked her about the anecdote she cited in Parliament. On 7 August, Raeesah said she spoke to Singh and told him that her statement on 3 August was untrue.

The next day, Raeesah met with Singh, WP Chairman Sylvia Lim and WP Vice-Chairman Faisal Manap. At the meeting, she told them that she had lied in Parliament on 3 August, and that she had “no way of substantiating the statements she had made”.

The three leaders told her the best thing for her to do would be to continue with the narrative that she had already given in Parliament on 3 August. “If Ms Khan and the WP could get away with it, there was no need to clarify the lie. If the matter was brought up again, there would also be no need for her to clarify and there was no need for the truth to be told,” the report said, citing Raeesah.

Raeesah also told Loh and Nathan on 8 August about what had transpired at her meeting with Singh, Lim and Manap. She messaged the following to them: “Hey guys, I just met pritam, Sylvia and Faisal. And we spoke about the Muslim issue 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.”

The message referred to two issues that Raeesah had spoken about in Parliament on 3 August about certain Muslim issues affecting women, and her untrue anecdote about the sexual assault case and allegation against the police, with the reference to a “statement” in the message referring to the Muslim issues.

Met Singh and Lim in October about next steps

On 4 October, after she had lied again about the sexual assault case, Raeesah met with Singh and Lim. They met at Singh’s office in Parliament that has been given to the Leader of the Opposition. They discussed the next steps, including about a possible Committee of Privileges which might be set up to look at Raeesah’s conduct. Neither Singh nor Lim asked Raeesah why she had lied again nor did they suggest that she clarify the truth in Parliament.

Raeesah received an email from the police dated 7 October, inviting her to assist them in investigating the matters she had raised in Parliament. Raeesah sought advice from Singh and Lim when she received this email.

They directed her not to respond to the police and to ignore the requests, as the police could not compel her to speak with the police. Her concern was giving a statement to the police without any privileges, as opposed to making a clarification in Parliament where she would have privileges.

On 12 October, Raeesah went to a meeting called by Singh, and met with him and Lim. By then, the two WP leaders came to the view that the matter would not be dropped, and was not going to go away. The three of them discussed the matter together, and decided that Raeesah should come clean and tell the truth. At this meeting, Raeesah asked if disciplinary action would be taken against her and the answer given to her was “no”.

On 1 November, Raeesah made a personal statement in Parliament, clarifying that she had lied on 3 August and 4 October.

Raeesah told the COP she was shocked to learn that the WP had formed a Disciplinary Panel (DP) on 2 November to look into her lies to Parliament.

She attended before the DP on 8 November to explain why she had lied repeatedly to Parliament.

Raeesah subsequently requested to meet the DP again, this time on 29 November, to talk about her performance as an MP. At that meeting, it was suggested to her by Singh and Lim that she should resign as a member of the WP.

Raeesah decided to tender her resignation from WP as she acknowledged that she had made a mistake.

When asked by the COP, Raeesah said that if the WP leadership had told her to come clean to Parliament in October or to assist the police in their enquiries and tell them the truth, she would have done so. She had done neither because they had told her that there would be no judgement if she did not clarify the truth in Parliament. She took that to mean that she should continue to lie. She had also been told not to respond to the police.

The COP asked Raeesah about the contents of the press conference held by the WP on 2 December. During the conference, Singh had said that there had been an order to Raeesah to clarify the truth in Parliament in October, but she had acted contrary to that.

Raeesah disagreed with this, saying there was no order for her to clarify the facts in October and no one from WP advised her to tell the truth.

Loh’s testimony

Loh testified that when Raeesah lied again on 4 October in Parliament, she was shocked and scared for the former MP.

On 12 October, Raeesah told Loh that she was going to make a statement in Parliament about the true position concerning her statement of 3 August. Loh then requested to meet with Singh, to discuss what Raeesah should say in Parliament, and how she should convey the truth. Loh and Nathan met with Singh later that evening.

At this meeting, Singh told Loh and Nathan that he had met with Raeesah on 3 October about the matter. Singh had left the choice to Raeesah, as to whether she should tell the truth about her 3 August statement, if she was asked about it in Parliament on 4 October. Loh was disappointed that Singh had said this to Raeesah.

Loh was not fully happy with the WP statement of 1 November because it did not reveal Singh’s knowledge of the matter. She felt that the involvement of Singh, Lim and Manap had been intentionally omitted.

Loh said she and Nathan were surprised when the WP set up a DP on 2 November and thought the composition of the DP was self-serving. This was because Singh, Lim and Manap were the very people who had known that what Raeesah had said was untrue and they were the only members of the DP.

Loh added that several parts of the statement made by Singh to the media on 2 December were not true.

In closing, Loh testified that it pained her to have to say all this about the WP.

“She had no agenda, and had been a member of the Workers’ Party for 10 years and gave the cause a reasonable amount of her personal time and youth. She appreciated the ramifications of what she shared but to her, beyond anything else, she felt that it is important to be truthful to the country. Ms Loh was tearing as she said this,” the report said.

Nathan's testimony

Nathan agreed with Loh’s evidence that the WP’s statement on 1 November should have indicated that the WP’s senior leaders were aware of Raeesah’s lie. The statement had not made clear that she had sought counsel from the WP’s senior leaders.

Like Loh, he also said that he was surprised when the WP set up a DP and thought that any inquiry should have been done earlier, since the DP members were aware of her lie since 8 August. He also agreed that the DP was self-serving.

Nathan testified that he and Loh went to the DP on 25 November and told them that the CEC and the DP should tell the public about the true line of events.

COP members

The COP comprises Tan Chuan-Jin, COP Chairman and Speaker of Parliament; Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment; Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development and Minister-in-charge of Social Services Integration; Rahayu Mahzam, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Health; Dennis Tan, Hougang MP; Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law; Don Wee, Chua Chu Kang MP; Zaqy Mohamad, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Manpower and Deputy Leader of the House.

In total, the COP had met three times so far on 29 November, Thursday and Friday to deliberate on a complaint made on 1 November by the Leader of the House Indranee Rajah against Raeesah alleging breaches of privileges, and examine witnesses, among others.

The COP noted on Friday that Tan would present the special report to Parliament on the same day. It adjourned its meeting to Monday.

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