Raeesah Khan resigns from WP, steps down as Sengkang MP

SINGAPORE - JULY 07:  Sengkang Group Representation Constituency Workers' Party candidate, Raeesah Khan attends a campaign walkabout ahead of the general election on July 7, 2020 in Singapore. Singapore will go to the polls on July 10 as the ruling party, People's Action Party seeks a fresh mandate amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As of July 6, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country stands at 44,983.  (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)
WP's Raeesah Khan attends a campaign walkabout ahead of the general election on 7 July, 2020, in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The Workers’ Party (WP) Sengkang Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan has resigned from the party and consequently, from her MP position as well, the WP said on Tuesday night (30 November).

The announcement on WP’s Facebook page comes just a few weeks after the opposition party said it had set up a disciplinary panel to look into Raeesah's admission of lying in Parliament on 1 November.

Raeesah was one of the four Sengkang GRC MPs who won their seats in last year’s General Election (GE), and was assigned to manage the Compassvale ward.

In its latest statement, WP said its Central Executive Committee (CEC) met on Tuesday night to deliberate and decide on the recommendation of the Disciplinary Committee, which had been formed on 2 November to investigate the matter.

The meeting took place just hours after Raeesah indicated to WP Secretary-General Pritam Singh her intention to resign from the party. She then attended the CEC meeting at 8pm and expressed in person her intention to resign.

“The party will hold a press conference on Thursday 2 December to provide more information on this matter and to share its plans to ensure that Sengkang residents, particularly in the Compassvale ward, continue to be cared for and represented,” WP said.

Background to Raeesah’s admission of lying

During a parliamentary debate on empowering women on 3 August, Raeesah had said that she accompanied a 25-year-old woman to make a police report three years ago and that the woman came out of the police station crying and alleged that the officers there had made comments about her dressing, and that she was drinking.

Despite requests in subsequent parliamentary sittings by Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam and other MPs to provide more information to assist police investigations, Raeesah declined to elaborate, citing the need to protect the alleged victim's identity.

In response, Shanmugam said that police would interview Raeesah. The police later said Raeesah did not turn up for an interview despite two requests by the agency to provide case details.

On 1 November, Raeesah admitted in Parliament that she did not accompany the alleged rape victim to the police station. She told the House that the anecdote of the survivor's experience was shared by the latter in a support group for women, and that she herself was a victim of sexual assault when she was 18 studying abroad.

Raeesah apologised then to the Singapore Police Force, the survivor whose quote she had used in the House, her constituents, the WP and its members and volunteers, as well as her parents and family.

Leader of the House Indranee Rajah on the same day filed a complaint on the matter to be heard before a Committee of Privileges, noting that Raeesah had “lied to Parliament, not once, not twice, but three times”.

Reactions from Raeesah

In her letter of resignation to the Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin on Tuesday, Raeesah expressed "with a heavy heart" her decision to resign as Sengkang MP.

She reiterated her apology to the people of Sengkang, and her volunteers. "I will be spending more time with my family, and on causes that am most passionate about."

Raeesah also said she will "always be indebted" to the residents of Sengkang for the honour of serving as their MP.

She also thanked the volunteers, in particular those in Compassvale for their dedicated support for the residents.

In addition, Raeesah said she will assist the Committee of Privileges.

In the spotlight before GE

Prior to Raeesah’s entry into Parliament, she was in the spotlight after two police reports were filed over comments on social media made by her.

Five days before the GE, the then WP candidate for Sengkang appeared alongside Pritam and other party members to speak to reporters at a doorstop at Blk 273E Compassvale Link to apologise for her comments.

Reading out a statement, she said, “My intention was never to cause social divisions but to raise awareness on minority issues. I apologise to any racial group or community who have been hurt by my comments. My remarks were insensitive and I regret making them...I will fully cooperate with police investigations.”

Pritam said then that the party would stand by her as a candidate for the GE.

On 17 September last year, police issued a stern warning to Raeesah for two of her social media posts. The police said that the warning was for the offence of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race for her social media posts on 2 February 2018 and 17 May 2020.

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