SINGAPORE – Workers’ Party (WP) chief and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh last Friday (Dec 10) told the Committee of Privileges that he had not directed former MP Raeesah Khan to lie, but took no steps for nearly two months to get her to correct her false statement.
According to a special report released on Sunday (Dec 12), the third so far, Mr Singh told her to take ownership of the issue if it came up, and left it to her as it was her responsibility to do so.
Here is a timeline of key events, according to Mr Singh’s testimony before the committee.
Aug 3: During a speech in Parliament, Ms Raeesah Khan said she had accompanied a rape survivor to a police station to make a police report three years ago. She alleged the officer made comments on the victim’s dressing and the fact that she had been drinking. Ms Khan declined to provide more details when pressed.
She met Mr Pritam Singh in his Leader of the Opposition office that day and said she could not contact the victim. She was told to clarify this on the record.
Aug 7: Ms Khan called Mr Singh and said she had lied in her speech. Mr Singh said he was angry and upset, and ended the call.
Aug 8: Ms Khan met Mr Singh, WP chair Sylvia Lim and WP vice-chair Faisal Manap at Mr Singh’s house. She explained she had told the untruth as she was under a traumatic episode after having been the victim of a serious sexual assault. The leaders were sympathetic to Ms Khan, and concerned about her well-being, and Mr Singh told her she would have to speak to her parents about the issue.
Mr Singh did not direct or instruct Ms Khan to clarify the untruth. He also did not recall Ms Lim or Mr Faisal discussing what to do with the untruth and how to clarify it.
After Ms Khan composed herself, they discussed issues relating to female genital cutting and polygamy that she had raised in her speech, and agreed she would put up a Facebook post clarifying her position on those.
Oct 1: Mr Singh sent a general email to all WP MPs and told them, among other things, that they had to be able to substantiate any statements made in Parliament, or risk facing the Committee of Privileges.
Oct 3: Mr Singh and his wife visited Ms Khan at her home. He told her someone might ask about her Aug 3 anecdote in Parliament on Oct 4. He said “if the issue came up”, she had “to take responsibility and ownership of the issue”, and if she did so, he “will not judge” her.
Oct 4: Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam pressed Ms Khan for details of the incident, and she repeated her lie. Ms Khan later met Mr Singh and Ms Lim at Mr Singh’s office for a very short meeting past 11pm. Mr Singh recalled Ms Khan was in a daze and said: “Perhaps there is another way. That is, to tell the truth.” Mr Singh said he was very upset and replied: “But look at the choice you made.”
Oct 7: Ms Khan sought advice from Mr Singh and Ms Lim when she received an e-mail from the police for an interview. Mr Singh told her to tell the police she was going to answer in Parliament. He said he did not tell her to meet them, or not to do so.
Oct 12: Mr Singh met Ms Khan and Ms Lim. He said Ms Khan was initially still unwilling to make a speech in Parliament to correct her untruth and Ms Lim was very upset about this. Mr Singh impressed upon Ms Khan there was no other way, and she eventually agreed.
Nov 1: Ms Khan clarified in Parliament that she had lied on Aug 3 and Oct 4. Leader of the House Indranee Rajah refers her to the Committee of Privileges.
Nov 2: The WP forms a disciplinary panel to look into the matter.
Nov 30: Ms Khan resigns from the WP.
Dec 2, 3: Ms Khan and three other WP members – secretarial assistant Loh Pei Ying, legislative assistant Lim Hang Ling, and activist Yudhishthra Nathan appear before the committee.
Dec 9: Mr Faisal appears before the committee.
Dec 10: Mr Singh appears before the committee.
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