SINGAPORE - Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong and Parliamentary Secretary for Communications and Information and Health Rahayu Mahzam will sit on the parliamentary committee hearing the complaint against Workers' Party MP Raeesah Khan, who has admitted to lying in Parliament.
Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin said on Wednesday (Nov 3) that he had nominated the two office-holders to the Committee of Privileges to take the place of Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah.
The two ministers had recused themselves from the committee as Ms Indranee, who is Leader of the House, had made the complaint and Mr Shanmugam is in charge of the ministry overseeing the police.
Ms Raeesah had admitted in the Chamber on Monday to lying in the House about details of a sexual assault case that she alleged was mishandled by the police.
During a debate on empowering women on Aug 3, the first-term MP for Sengkang GRC said that she had accompanied a 25-year-old rape victim to a police station to make a police report three years ago, and alleged that the police officer handling the case had made inappropriate comments about the victim's dressing and the fact that she was drinking.
Ms Raeesah was asked by Mr Shanmugam during October's sitting of Parliament for more details about the episode, but said she did not want to reveal any more information as she wanted to protect the privacy of the victim.
On Monday, she admitted that she had, in fact, lied about being at the police station. Instead, she had heard the story in a support group for women.
She said she had made up the story because she did not want to reveal that she had been sexually assaulted as an 18-year-old while studying abroad, and was part of the support group. She also admitted that she had not gotten permission from the victim to share her story.
Ms Indranee said on Monday that Ms Raeesah's actions had resulted in "a cloud hanging over the police" and caused them to devote time and resources to investigate the alleged incident.
It also does a "great disservice" to the survivors of sexual assault and rape victims, Ms Indranee added, as she referred the matter to the Committee of Privileges.
The eight-member committee is chaired by the Speaker of Parliament.
Apart from Mr Tong and Ms Rahayu, who will sit on the committee on this matter, the other members are Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu, Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli, National Development Minister Desmond Lee, Mr Don Wee (Chua Chu Kang GRC) and WP MP Dennis Tan (Hougang).
Under the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act, Parliament can take action against MPs found to have breached their parliamentary privileges. The punishments include a jail term not extending beyond the current session of Parliament; a fine of up to $50,000; suspension; a reprimand from the Speaker; or any combination of the above.
MPs can also have their privileges and immunities suspended, which means they can be liable to civil proceedings for anything they said in Parliament.
The Workers' Party said on Tuesday that it has formed a disciplinary panel to look into Ms Raeesah's conduct. The panel comprises secretary-general Pritam Singh, chair Sylvia Lim and vice-chair Faisal Manap, and will report its findings and recommendations to the central executive committee after it completes its work.
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.