Singapore

Workers' Party candidate Raeesah Khan apologises for ‘insensitive’ remarks

This article is more than 12 months old

Her posts on social media allegedly promoted enmity between different groups

Workers' Party (WP) candidate Raeesah Khan apologised yesterday for making "insensitive" and "improper" remarks in two Facebook posts, in which she suggested the Singapore police discriminates against minorities.

At a press conference called last night after it emerged that two police reports had been made against her, Ms Raeesah, 26, said she did not mean to cause social division with her remarks but had wanted to raise awareness about the concerns of minorities.

In the posts, which were made in February 2018 and May this year, she suggested that police officers discriminated against citizens, and that rich Chinese and white people were treated differently under the law. She also said minorities and mosque leaders were given different treatment compared with church leaders.

Last night, flanked by WP leaders Pritam Singh, Sylvia Lim and her teammates contesting in Sengkang GRC, Ms Raeesah said: "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 feel really passionate about minority issues regardless of race, and in my passion, I made improper remarks, and I have to be accountable for them.

"I will fully cooperate in any police investigations."

As she spoke at a multi-purpose hall in Compassvale Link in the new Sengkang GRC, the rest of the party's candidates for the four-member constituency - equity analyst Louis Chua, economist Jamus Lim and lawyer He Ting Ru - looked on solemnly.

They did not speak, with party chief Pritam Singh the only one who fielded questions.

CONTINUE CAMPAIGN

Asked if this matter would affect Ms Raeesah's candidacy, Mr Singh said she would continue with her campaign.

He added that it was too early to talk about it, and police investigations would have to be allowed to take its course.

He said the party would stand behind its Sengkang team, adding he and Ms Lim had turned up to support them.

Mr Singh said he had not known about the Facebook posts beforehand but noted that the social activist is the WP's youngest candidate in this election and comes from a generation that has "completely grown up on social media".

"And for me, I would be actually a bit disappointed if our candidates try to sanitise their past. And I think they should be upfront and authentic to the public. This is who they are. And in the event there are certain posts or certain comments that they may have made which are untoward, then I would expect them to explain themselves," he said.

Both of the posts in question were made on Ms Raeesah's personal Facebook account.

Her social media accounts have since been made private.

Mr Singh said the party would review the matter after the election, he added.

Police investigations into the case are ongoing.

For promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race under the Penal Code, a person can be jailed for up to three years, or fined, or both.

GENERAL ELECTION 2020