WP's Sylvia Lim left 'frustrated' when Raeesah repeated lies: COP report

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The Workers' Party chair Sylvia Lim testifying before the Committee of Privileges on 13 December 2021 regarding ex-Sengkang MP Raeesah Khan's lies in Parliament. (SCREENSHOT: Gov.sg/YouTube)
The Workers' Party chair Sylvia Lim testifying before the Committee of Privileges on 13 December 2021 regarding ex-Sengkang MP Raeesah Khan's lies in Parliament. (SCREENSHOT: Gov.sg/YouTube)

SINGAPORE — The Workers’ Party (WP) chair Sylvia Lim was left "frustrated" after former Sengkang MP Raeesah Khan repeated her lies in Parliament about interacting with an alleged rape victim, according to the fourth special report of the Committee of Privileges (COP).

Lim testified on Monday (13 December) for three hours before the COP, which released its report on Tuesday. The COP has been tasked to investigate the lies told by Raeesah in Parliament.

On 4 October, Lim was present when Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam confronted Raeesah in Parliament, where Raeesah repeated her lie about accompanying the alleged victim three years ago to a police station. The victim was supposedly subject to remarks by a police officer at the station about her dressing and questions on whether she had been drinking.

"I was frustrated because it didn't appear that there had been any progress made on moving towards correcting the record, and in fact, at that exchange...there was doubling down (by Raeesah) on the untruth," said Lim under questioning by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, who sits on the COP.

The WP chair also disagreed with Raeesah's testimony before the COP that a consensus had been reached between Lim, WP chief Pritam Singh and vice-chair Faisal Manap at a meeting on 8 August to “take it to the grave” regarding Raeesah’s lies and maintaining them.

In addition, Lim was asked if she could rule out any of Raeesah’s mental conditions, including dissociation, which may have caused the ex-MP to make that statement. “Ms Lim said that she could not rule anything out,” according to the report.

8 August meeting

On 8 August, Lim met with Pritam, Faisal and Raeesah at Singh’s house to discuss Raeesah’s statement in Parliament. During the meeting, Raeesah admitted to the three leaders that she had lied in Parliament. Raeesah also admitted she had heard the anecdote while attending a victim support group, and revealed that she was also a victim of sexual assault.

While the leaders were left "overwhelmed" by the revelation, Lim agreed that as an experienced politician, she immediately appreciated that Raeesah’s lie in Parliament was a serious and grave matter that had to be addressed. "The lie would have to be clarified, though she (Ms Lim) did not apply her mind to the question of how and when it should be corrected, at that time,” said the report.

Lim said she did not recall any conversation between Singh, Faisal and herself on the day concerning Raeesah’s lies in Parliament, or the next steps that needed to be taken.

Between 8 August meeting and 4 October parliamentary session

Between the 8 August meeting and the parliamentary sitting on 4 October, no steps were taken towards getting Raeesah to clarify her lies before Parliament, said Lim, adding that she did not think that anything concrete was done during this period.

Lim said that as Singh knew Raeesah best and was guiding the then MP, she left it to Singh to follow up on this matter with Raeesah.

After the parliamentary sitting on 4 October where Shanmugam confronted Raeesah, Lim arranged to meet her in the afternoon in Singh's office. "(I wanted to) see emotionally how she was doing after the exchange with Minister, which I think most people would find stressful in any event," said Lim.

Furthermore, as Shanmugam had said police would be in touch with Raeesah about her claims, Lim wanted to inform her of her view that Parliament would be the best venue to handle the issue.

During the meeting, Raeesah seemed "highly stressed", said the WP chair. Lim advised her to seek legal advice on the matter, and stressed that police were not embarking on a criminal investigation. But Lim did not ask what Raeesah had discussed with Singh, or why she ended up repeating her lies.

Lim agreed that it was urgent for the steps to be taken to correct the parliamentary record, and understood the need to move quickly. She said it was a matter of judgment as to when the best and earliest possible time was.

12 October meeting

At a subsequent meeting on 12 October, Raeesah met with Lim and Singh at the latter’s house, where Raeesah “indicated some reluctance to correct the record”.

When asked if Lim had discussed with Singh about his discussions with Raeesah, “Ms Lim said that she had not done so, as it never crossed her mind that Mr Singh and Ms Khan would have agreed to ‘double down’ on the lie. Ms Lim said that she could also not fathom the possibility of Mr Singh giving Ms Khan the option of choosing between telling the truth, or continuing the lie.”

Lim confirmed that the 12 October meeting was the first time that “an express commitment” was made for Raeesah to clarify her lies in Parliament.

On 1 November, Raeesah admitted to her lies in Parliament and made a tearful apology. She also revealed to the House that she was a victim of sexual assault. Later in the session, Leader of the House Indranee Rajah filed a complaint for a COP to convene and investigate Raeesah's lies.

Jamus Lim's testimony

Sengkang Member of Parliament Jamus Lim, who also testified on Monday, responded to questions by the COP on the 29 October meeting and the 30 November meeting of the WP’s Central Executive Committee (CEC).

Associate Professor (A/P) Lim, who is a member of the CEC, said that apart from what he was told at the 29 October meeting about Raeesah’s lies in Parliament and her intention to clarify them in Parliament on 1 November, “he generally learnt of the facts concerning this matter only when they became public”.

A/P Lim was also asked whether, as a member of the CEC, he would have expected the facts concerning Raeesah's confession to the WP leaders in August and what they knew on 4 October to be told to the CEC, among other things.

In response, the MP said that “he trusted the party leadership to inform the CEC of all material facts. Given that the party leaders had not told the CEC about their involvement in the matter from an early stage, A/P Lim trusted that these facts were not material".

He added that if Raeesah had planned to subsequently confess, then her earlier confessions to the WP leaders would not have been material.

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