Pritam Singh says Raeesah Khan’s suggestion that he told her to lie is a 'complete fabrication'

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh speaking at a Committee of Privileges hearing, on Dec 10, 2021. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE -  Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh has described former WP MP Raeesah Khan’s account that the opposition party’s leaders had told her to take her lie “to the grave”, as a “complete, utter fabrication” and a “bare lie”.

The WP chief had told her that if the issue came up in Parliament, she had to take “responsibility and ownership” and that he would not “judge” her if she did so.

Mr Singh had an expectation - as opposed to an understanding - that Ms Khan would clarify the truth if the matter was raised, said the Committee of Privileges report.

The COP report summarises evidence given by Mr Singh, who is Leader of the Opposition, to the committee in a hearing that lasted over nine hours on Friday (Dec 10). It is the third report amid an ongoing investigation into Ms Khan, a former Sengkang GRC MP who had fabricated details of a sexual assault case during a parliamentary speech on Aug 3.

According to Sunday’s report, Ms Khan had confessed over the phone to Mr Singh on Aug 7 that her anecdote of accompanying the victim to a police station “did not happen”.

“Mr Singh was very angry and upset when Ms Khan told him this, and ended the call,” the report said.

The next day, Mr Singh - along with party chairman Sylvia Lim and vice-chair Faisal Manap - met Ms Khan, who explained that she lied because she had undergone a traumatic episode as a serious sexual assault victim herself.

Everyone was shocked, sympathetic and more concerned about her well-being, and Mr Singh told Ms Khan: “We’ll have to deal with this issue, but speak to your parents first.” 

He viewed that as a step she should take before coming clean in Parliament, said the report.

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It noted that at this Aug 8 meeting, there was no substantive discussion on what to do about the lie, and Mr Singh did not direct Ms Khan to clarify her untruth.

According to Ms Khan’s account of the Aug 8 meeting to the committee, Mr Singh had asked her to take her lie “to the grave” - something she texted two other WP members a few minutes after.

On Friday, Mr Singh called this rendition “a complete, utter fabrication… a bare lie”.

Mr Singh and Ms Khan did not communicate about the incident for the next two months or so, until Oct 3.

During this period, Mr Singh did not check whether Ms Khan had spoken with her parents, nor did he discuss with her on setting out the truth at the next parliamentary sitting on Sept 13.

“Mr Singh said it was Ms Khan’s responsibility to speak to him about the matter, after she had settled things with her parents. He said that he was in no position to know when that would happen,” said the special report.

Ms Khan came down with the shingles and did not attend the September sitting.

Mr Singh and other WP leaders also did not take any steps among themselves to address the issue in those weeks.

“There were no attempts that could be construed as consistent with wanting Ms Khan to come forward and come clean. Mr Singh agreed that he did nothing at this point in time,” the report noted.

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On Oct 1, while preparing for a debate on a law to counter foreign interference, Mr Singh e-mailed all WP MPs to advise them to substantiate any statements made in Parliament, or risk facing the Committee of Privileges.

The day before the Oct 4 Parliament sitting, Mr Singh visited Ms Khan and told her it was entirely possible that someone might then ask her about her Aug 3 anecdote, said the report.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam did so, making a ministerial statement asking Ms Khan for more details of her account.

The report noted Mr Singh telling Ms Khan that even if the matter was not raised, she should take ownership and responsibility and clarify the truth.

Mr Singh also said that at that point, if the matter did not come up, then he had no plans to voluntarily clarify the issue himself, because “this was something for Ms Khan to do”.

After their meeting, the WP’s decision-making central executive committee (CEC) was not informed that Ms Khan might admit to her lie in Parliament the next day.

The report said there was no draft of any possible Oct 4 statement prepared, and that Mr Singh did not know what Ms Khan was going to say. 

In contrast, the lead-up to her Nov 1 statement - where Ms Khan admitted she had lied - had involved several discussions and input from Mr Singh and Ms Lim among others; with the WP CEC reviewing a draft.

According to the report, Mr Singh said that none of these steps were taken before the Oct 4 sitting because he was not sure whether the matter would come up - and if it did not come up, then Ms Khan may not have clarified. 

When Ms Khan did stand up in the House to reply to Mr Shanmugam, it was to decline to give further details, citing confidentiality concerns, and to affirm - falsely - that her account was true.

See the full report released by the Committee of Privileges.

Watch videos of the nine-hour hearing:

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