SINGAPORE – Former Workers’ Party (WP) MP Raeesah Khan on Thursday (Dec 2) told a parliamentary committee that she would have admitted to lying in Parliament and assisted the police in their investigation if the WP leadership had told her to do so.
She said she did neither because WP chief Pritam Singh, party chairman Sylvia Lim and vice-chairman Faisal Manap had told her there would be “no judgment” if she did not tell the truth during the Parliament sitting in October.
The WP leaders had also told her, in early August, that she should keep to her lie and there was no need for her to tell the truth, she said.
Here is a timeline of the events, according to the testimony of Ms Khan and other WP members before the Committee of Privileges. The committee presented a special report to Parliament on Friday (Dec 3).
During a debate on a motion about empowering women, Ms Khan said she had accompanied a rape survivor to a police station to make a police report three years prior.
She said the 25-year-old woman came out of the police station crying, because the police officer had allegedly made comments about her dressing, and the fact that she had been drinking.
Ms Khan declined to provide more details when asked, saying she did not wish to re-traumatise the victim.
Between Aug 3 and Aug 7
Ms Khan spoke to WP member Yudhishthra Nathan.
Ms Khan spoke to Mr Singh and told him she had lied in her Aug 3 speech.
Ms Khan met Mr Singh, Ms Lim and Mr Faisal at Mr Singh’s house.
She said the trio reacted with “incredible disappointment” and anger, but also compassion, when she told them her Aug 3 statement was false.
According to Ms Khan, they advised her that the best thing to do would be to “retain the narrative”. She said the leaders had decided they would keep the lie in place if Ms Khan were not pressed on it, as there would be no need to “clarify the truth”.
After the meeting, Ms Khan sent a text message to Mr Nathan and her secretarial assistant Loh Pei Ying, saying: “Hey guys, I just met Pritam, Sylvia and Faisal. And we spoke about the Muslim issue and the police accusation. I told them what I told you guys, and they’ve agreed that the best thing to do is to take the information to the grave. They also suggested that I write a statement to send out this evening.”
Ms Khan subsequently released a statement on Facebook on the Muslim issues that her message referred to.
Ms Loh and Mr Nathan met Mr Singh about a separate matter. Mr Singh confirmed that he knew Ms Khan had lied in Parliament.
Ms Loh said she expected the problems to be sorted out as senior party leaders were aware of the truth.
Mr Singh visited Ms Khan at her home, and told her he expected her to be pressed on her lie in Parliament the next day. According to Ms Khan, her understanding of their conversation was that there would be no judgment from him if she were to “continue” or “retain” the narrative.
Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam asked Ms Khan to provide details of the incident, and said the police had not found any cases that fit her description.
Ms Khan said her account was true but repeatedly declined to reveal any further details, citing confidentiality concerns.
Mr Shanmugam said the police would continue to investigate the matter and interview Ms Khan about the case.
Ms Khan later met Mr Singh and Ms Lim at his office to discuss what the next steps should be.
She said there was no discussion about why she did not comply with any instruction or order from Mr Singh to clarify the truth, contrary to his account of events at a WP press conference on Thursday (Dec 2).
Ms Khan sought advice from Mr Singh and Ms Lim when she received an e-mail from the police for an interview.
According to her, they directed her to not respond and ignore the request, as the police could not compel her to speak to them.
Ms Khan said she was concerned about giving a statement to the police, as opposed to making a clarification in Parliament where she would have parliamentary privilege.
Ms Khan told Ms Loh and Mr Nathan she would admit and clarify the false statements in Parliament.
She also met Mr Singh and Ms Lim. She said the two WP leaders had, by then, come to the view that the matter would not be dropped. After some discussion, it was decided that Ms Khan should come clean and tell the truth.
She also said she was told there would not be any disciplinary action taken against her.
At around 8pm, Ms Loh and Mr Nathan met Mr Singh at his home.
The police said they could not identify the case despite an extensive search, and that Ms Khan had not responded to two requests for an interview.
Ms Khan clarified in Parliament that she had lied on Aug 3 and Oct 4.
The WP formed a disciplinary panel to look into the matter, a move that Ms Khan said “shocked and surprised” her.
Ms Khan appeared before the WP panel. She also requested to meet the panel again on Nov 29 to talk about her performance as an MP.
At a meeting, Mr Singh and Ms Lim suggested to Ms Khan that she should resign, for her well-being and because she no longer had the support of her fellow Sengkang GRC MPs.
Ms Khan resigned from the WP. Before that, the panel presented its recommendations to the WP central executive committee, which voted unanimously that Ms Khan should resign of her own accord, or be expelled.
WP held a press conference. Shortly after, Ms Khan appeared before the Parliamentary Committee of Privileges to give evidence. Ms Loh and Ms Khan’s legislative assistant, Mr Mike Lim Hang Ling, also appeared before the committee.
Ms Khan and Ms Loh appeared before the committee again. Mr Nathan also appeared before the committee.
See the full report released by the Committee of Privileges.