COP report objective, attempts to politicise matter regrettable: Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin

A motion on the Committee of Privileges' findings and recommendations is due to be debated in Parliament next week. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The findings of a parliamentary committee looking into former Workers' Party MP Raeesah Khan's lies in Parliament are based on objective evidence which is available to all to see, said Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin.

With a motion on the Committee of Privileges' findings and recommendations due to be debated in Parliament next week in full public view - and the House to decide on its merits - attempts to politicise the matter even before then are "regrettable", he added in a statement released on Friday (Feb 11).

Mr Tan chairs the eight-member committee, which on Thursday released a report recommending a fine of $35,000 for Ms Khan, and for both WP chief Pritam Singh and vice-chairman Faisal Manap to be referred to the Public Prosecutor for investigations.

The committee proposed that both party leaders be further probed, with a view to considering if criminal proceedings ought to be instituted.

It said Mr Singh was untruthful in giving evidence under oath, and that this could amount to perjury; while Mr Faisal's "flagrant" refusal to answer questions posed to him could amount to contempt of Parliament.

In a statement released earlier on Friday, the WP said it noted these developments with "grave concern", and that the last time criminal charges were brought against an elected opposition MP relating to their political work was in the 1980s.

In response, Mr Tan said the WP statement suggests that the committee's recommendations are related to the political work of Mr Singh and Mr Faisal as opposition MPs; and that this would affect the building of a democratic society.

He added that the committee had looked at the conduct of the two MPs, and concluded that it had amounted to potential criminal offences.

He said the committee was satisfied that Mr Singh had guided Ms Khan to continue with an untruth she first uttered on Aug 3, when she falsely claimed to have accompanied a sexual assault victim to a police station where officers allegedly mishandled the matter.

She repeated the lie on Oct 4, before finally coming clean on Nov 1 and resigning as an MP on Nov 30.

"Based on these findings, Parliament has the power to proceed to impose sanctions on Mr Singh and Mr Faisal," said Mr Tan. "However, rather than sanctions being imposed by Parliament, the committee recommended that Parliament consider referring the matter to the Public Prosecutor.

"In that way, the Public Prosecutor will have to consider the matter again; and if charges are brought, Mr Singh and Mr Faisal will have the full opportunity to defend themselves in a Court of Law," he added. "This process will give Mr Singh and Mr Faisal the best chance to vindicate themselves, if they are indeed innocent."

Mr Tan pointed out that if there are to be any charges against the duo, the courts will decide. "Regardless of what the COP has found, the courts will have the final say," he said.

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A parliamentary committee has recommended that former Workers’ Party MP Raeesah Khan be fined and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh be referred to the Public Prosecutor for their roles in lies told by Ms Khan in Parliament in August and October.

The Speaker stressed that this was how democracy should work.

"A strong democratic system requires that those who are elected respect the institutions of democracy, especially Parliament, and uphold our laws - including the laws against perjury and prevarication," he said.

"It will be a perversion of democracy for an MP to lie, on oath, and then say that such lies should not be dealt with, or that he is above the law because of who he is."

See the full report released by the Committee of Privileges.

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