WP leaders told Raeesah Khan to stick to the lie she had told Parliament: Committee of Privileges, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

WP leaders told Raeesah Khan to stick to the lie she had told Parliament: Committee of Privileges

Three senior Workers' Party (WP) MPs had told their party colleague Raeesah Khan to stick to the lie she had told in Parliament on Aug 3,the Committee of Privileges heard this week.

Ms Khan and two other party members said she was told by WP chief and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, WP chairman Sylvia Lim and WP vice-chairman Faisal Manap at an Aug 8 meeting that there was no need for her to clarify herself or for the truth to be told.

Following that meeting, she texted her secretarial assistant and a WP volunteer: “I just met Pritam, Sylvia and Faisal... they’ve agreed that the best thing to do is to take the information to the grave.”

These were among a number of revelations contained in a special report that the committee presented to Parliament on Friday (Dec 3), and which was published on Parliament’s website, alongside footage of the committee’s hearings over the past two days.

Ms Khan and her former assistant Loh Pei Ying gave evidence to the committee on Thursday and Friday, while the volunteer, Mr Yudhishthra Nathan, did so on Friday. Ms Khan’s former legislative assistant Lim Hang Ling testified on Thursday.

Ms Khan, who resigned from the party and as an MP for Sengkang GRC on Tuesday, told the committee chaired by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin that the WP leaders had told her to keep to the lie.

"My interpretation (of the meeting with WP leaders on Oct 3) was that that there would be no consequences for me to continue the narrative that I had begun in (Parliament) in August," she said in the recorded footage.

The committee said in its report: "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 comes a day after Mr Singh told a press conference that the party leaders had decided to give Ms Khan time to deal with the matter, as she had also told them she had been a sexual assault victim herself, and had not told her family about it.

In her Aug 3 speech, Ms Khan said she had accompanied a 25-year-old rape victim to a police station to make a report, and that the officer who interviewed the victim had made inappropriate comments about the victim's dressing and the fact that she had been drinking. But Ms Khan never accompanied the victim to a police station.

She later admitted that the victim had shared the account in a support group for women, which Ms Khan herself was in, and said she did not have the victim's consent to share the story.

In her evidence to the committee, Ms Khan also disputed statements made by Mr Singh at his press conference on Thursday (Dec 2), where, among other things, he told reporters that he had directed Ms Khan to take responsibility and admit to her lie in Parliament, and that she had contradicted this order.

No one from WP advised her to tell the truth, Ms Khan told the committee. There was also no order for her to clarify the facts.

When the committee put to her on Thursday that Mr Singh said he had ordered her to clarify the matter in Parliament in October, Ms Khan replied: "I'm hearing this for the first time."

She said that on Oct 3, a day before the Oct 4 Parliament sitting, Mr Singh had visited her at her home and said that if she kept to her existing narrative on the untruths which she had said on Aug 3, there would be no judgment by him.

"Ms Khan understood... that Mr Pritam Singh was advising her to continue to lie, should the matter come up the next day during the parliamentary session.

"Mr Pritam Singh did not ask Ms Khan to clarify and state the truth in Parliament," said the committee.

"To the contrary, Ms Khan was advised that she can continue to lie."

On Oct 4, Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam had asked Ms Khan to provide more details about the alleged incident, saying the police had since checked their records and found no cases that fit her description.

In reply, Ms Khan maintained that her account was true but repeatedly declined to reveal any further details – including the police station they went to – citing confidentiality. She added that she had not been successful in contacting the victim.

On the same day, Ms Khan met Mr Singh and Ms Lim at the Leader of the Opposition’s office in Parliament, where the three discussed the matter. 

“Neither Mr Pritam Singh nor Ms Sylvia Lim asked Ms Khan why she had lied again earlier, in answering questions asked by the Minister for Home Affairs,” said the report. “Nor did they suggest that Ms Khan clarify the truth in Parliament.”

Ms Khan was also directed by both Mr Singh and Ms Lim to ignore requests by the police for information, after the authorities sent her an e-mail on Oct 7 for her to assist with investigations into the case she had raised.

The two WP leaders told Ms Khan that the police could not compel her to speak to them.

When asked whether she was concerned that she was ignoring a legitimate request from the police, Ms Khan told the committee that she was, but that she had been unsure about what to do.

"I was concerned, but I was not sure what to do. When I asked for advice, that was the advice that was given to me (by Mr Singh and Ms Lim)," said Ms Khan.

On Oct 12, Ms Khan attended a meeting called by Mr Singh. At the meeting, which Ms Lim was also at, the three discussed the matter and came to the view that the matter would not be dropped and was not going away. As such, Ms Khan should come clean and tell the truth.

“At this meeting, Ms Khan asked if disciplinary action will be taken against her and the answer given to her was no,” said the report.

Ms Khan then made a personal explanation in Parliament on Nov 1, clarifying that she had lied on Aug 3 and on Oct 4.

In her evidence to the committee, Ms Khan said she was “shocked and surprised” to learn that the WP had formed a disciplinary panel the next day to look into her lies to Parliament.

She went before this disciplinary panel on Nov 8 and again on Nov 29.

Ms Khan told the Committee of Privileges that she would have come clean to Parliament in October and assisted police in their inquiries and told them the truth if the WP leadership had told her to do so.

“She had done neither because they had told Ms Khan that there would be no judgment if she did not clarify the truth in Parliament,” said the report. 

“She took that to mean that she should continue to lie.”

The committee also asked Ms Khan about Mr Singh’s statement at the WP press conference that she would be expelled from the party if she did not resign of her own accord. 

Ms Khan said this was not said to her. The WP leaders had suggested she resign for her well-being and because she had lost the support of her fellow Sengkang GRC MPs, she added.

See the full report released by the Committee of Privileges.