SINGAPORE - Workers' Party vice-chairman Faisal Manap's refusal to answer the questions put to him by the Committee of Privileges during his testimony last December was "flagrant and inexcusable", said a report by the committee released on Thursday (Feb 10).
His refusal to answer suggests that he wanted to hide the truth, it added.
The committee had held a series of hearings in December to investigate a complaint against former WP MP Raeesah Khan, who lied in Parliament about the details of a sexual assault anecdote on Aug 3, and repeated the lie again in October.
During his testimony on Dec 9, Mr Faisal said he had met party chief and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh and chairman Sylvia Lim on Dec 7 and 8 for two to three hours on each day.
He had brought notes to the hearing, including a note he had prepared on the sequence of events pertaining to Ms Khan's telling of falsehoods in Parliament.
He said that during the meetings with Mr Singh and Ms Lim, he had checked with them whether the dates in the note were correct.
When asked about these meetings and the material that the other two party leaders had brought along, Mr Faisal informed the committee four times that he would not answer the question.
"I don't understand why you are asking about what transacted, what happened between the three of us when the discussion is now focusing on Ms Raeesah. I've already answered you about the purpose of me having these notes," he said during his testimony.
During the hearing, the committee had explained to Mr Faisal that a refusal to answer its questions would amount to an offence and constitute a contempt of Parliament.
The report said: "Despite that, Mr Faisal confirmed that the committee should place on record that he was refusing to answer that question. He also repeated four more times that he would not be answering the question."
His refusal to answer, the committee said, "suggests that he wanted to hide the truth".
"He did not want the Committee to know what the documents were or what Mr Singh, Ms Lim and he were discussing, just the day before the start of the COP proceedings. He must know that his answer would be deeply embarrassing or incriminating."
Mr Faisal's conduct may amount to a contempt of Parliament, the committee said, recommending that he be referred to the public prosecutor for further investigation into whether criminal proceedings are necessary.
The committee also noted in its report that Mr Faisal was "honest enough to agree that the three senior WP leaders' conduct made no sense if they had wanted the truth to be told".
"He also agreed that he had no logical explanations for his conduct. He was struggling between having to lie to the Committee, and the actual truth," it said.
"He chose to keep to some of the lie, while also admitting that he made no logical sense."
The committee had, for instance, noted the lack of discussion about the matter between the three leaders and Ms Khan, and among the three leaders themselves, following her confession to them on Aug 8.
It also pointed out that Mr Faisal accepted that it did not make any sense that he did not ask Ms Khan any questions about her behaviour when he found out on Oct 4 that she had lied in Parliament again. Neither did he discuss the matter when he met her on a separate issue on Oct 7.
Mr Faisal admitted that it was illogical that he did not raise the issue with Ms Khan during their Oct 7 meeting, the committee said.