Parliament's Committee of Privileges has concluded that Workers' Party (WP) leaders lied about their involvement in the complaint against Raeesah Khan.
The former WP MP was found guilty of abusing her privileges when she lied in the House on Aug 3 and then repeated the lie on Oct 4, but the committee also found that she was acting on the guidance of Pritam Singh, Sylvia Lim and Faisal Manap after Aug 8.
In its report released today (Feb 10), the committee noted that party chief and Leader of the Opposition Singh is the most culpable of the three, and in an unusual move, called for the Attorney-General to assess if criminal proceedings should be started against him and Faisal.
Here are the main points of the report:
3 WP leaders lied
The committee said that it was clear that WP leaders Pritam Singh, Sylvia Lim and Faisal Manap had lied on several aspects.
After Khan confessed to the trio on Aug 8 that she had lied in Parliament, they told her to take the lie "to the grave”, with Singh advising that she continue with the lie.
Their argument for Khan to clarify the truth “was in stark contrast to their actual conduct”, the COP said.
Singh was the “operating brain for Khan repeating her lie in Parliament on Oct 4”, it added.
Seriousness of Singh’s actions
The committee found that Singh had guided Khan to continue the lie, essentially coaching her to abuse the parliamentary privilege and mislead the public. Khan likely followed his advice given his position in the party.
No need to come clean if not questioned
According to the committee’s findings, the WP leaders did not want her to tell the truth and did nothing to help her set the record straight in subsequent Parliament sittings.
If the matter was not raised in Parliament, Khan would not have to clarify the truth.
On Oct 4, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam pressed her to provide details as she had alleged the police mishandled a sexual assault case — and Khan repeated the lie. Even so, the trio did not ask her why she had done so or take action to help clarify the truth.
They only decided on Oct 12 for Khan to come clean after the police announced they were launching an investigation into her allegations.
Khan admitted in Parliament on Nov 1 that she did not tell the truth during the Aug 3 debate. The 29-year-old resigned from the Workers’ Party on Nov 30, also stepping down as MP.
Ownself check ownself
WP’s disciplinary panel, which comprised only Singh, Lim and Faisal, was formed on Nov 2 to look into Khan’s conduct.
This, however, was deemed inappropriate by the COP as the trio had already known that she lied in Parliament.
Singh said that the leaders also did not reveal the lie to the party’s central executive committee or told them they had prior knowledge of the matter until Oct 29.
This was only made known to the public when the party held a press conference on Dec 2.
Ambiguity of ‘I will not judge you’
The committee also found the manner that Singh had communicated with Khan to be unacceptable as his words could be interpreted in different ways.
He told her "I will not judge you" and "it's your call".
In the COP hearings, Singh explained he had meant for Khan to take “ownership and responsibility” of the matter and expected her to tell the truth.
However, Khan disagreed, saying she took these to mean she had a choice to either tell the truth or stick with the lie.
Singh changed position on Khan clarifying in Oct sitting
The committee said that Singh changed his position during the COP hearings from directing Khan to come clean about the lie in Parliament to only clarifying the truth if the matter was raised.
Khan guilty of abuse of parliamentary privilege
The committee found Khan guilty of abusing parliamentary privilege and recommended a $25,000 fine for lying in Parliament on Aug 3, and another $10,000 fine for repeating it on Oct 4.
But it also took into consideration that she has resigned as an MP as well as the injustice that she suffered during the COP hearings, namely being falsely accused by WP leaders and having her mental health “unfairly and publicly attacked” by Singh.
From Parliament to courts
The committee noted that party chief and Leader of the Opposition Singh is the most culpable of the three WP leaders, and in an unusual move, called for the Attorney-General to assess if criminal proceedings should be started against him and Faisal.