Pritam Singh never gave directive to clarify my lie on Oct 3: Raeesah Khan

Ms Raeesah Khan attends a Committee of Privileges hearing, on Dec 22, 2021. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOV.SG/YOUTUBE

SINGAPORE - Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh never used the words “take ownership and responsibility” during their Oct 3 meeting, Ms Raeesah Khan told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday (Dec 22).

Mr Singh had instead asked her to stick with her narrative rather than come clean on the untruth she told in Parliament on Aug 3, Ms Khan added.

The former WP MP gave this testimony during her third appearance before the Committee of Privileges, as she answered questions about an Oct 3 meeting she had with Mr Singh.

Sticking to what she told the committee on Dec 2 and 3, Ms Khan refuted claims by Mr Singh that he had expected her to set the record straight in Parliament and had made this clear to her by Oct 3.

During the one-hour hearing on Wednesday, Ms Khan also said repeatedly that she was telling the truth and that she will not lie under oath.

Ms Khan's conduct is under scrutiny by the committee after she told a lie in Parliament during a speech on Aug 3 about having accompanied a sexual assault victim to the police station.

Ms Khan had claimed that the woman had been driven to tears by the insensitive questions of the police. But on Nov 1, she admitted that she had heard the anecdote in a support group she was part of as a survivor of sexual assault herself.

During hearings before the committee, she said she had confessed the lie to her party leaders by Aug 8 and had been told by them to continue with it.

She also said that at an Oct 3 meeting, Mr Singh had told her that he would not judge her if she kept to the narrative.

Mr Singh has denied saying this. He told the committee on Dec 10 that when he met Ms Khan on Oct 3, he had told her that he expected her to take "ownership and responsibility" of the matter, and this meant that she was expected to tell the truth.

Mr Singh said Ms Khan became uncomfortable upon hearing this, so he said "I will not judge you, (which) meant I will not judge you if you take responsibility and ownership".

Asked about Mr Singh's testimony, Ms Khan said: "This is the first time I've heard him say these words."

She added that her former party leader "did not give any directive to clarify the lie in Parliament".

She said: "He said that if I were to continue the narrative, he would not judge me."

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Mr Singh had earlier testified to the committee that he was “shocked” Ms Khan had claimed that no one else was present when they had the Oct 3 conversation because her “whole family” were at home that night.

Asked about this by the committee, Ms Khan said that what she meant in her earlier testimony was that no one else was present at the conversation between her and Mr Singh as they were seated in a corner of her home.

She confirmed that her parents, husband and her brother were at home during that time.

She took issue with Mr Singh's suggestion that she was uncomfortable with their conversation that night, saying: "I was never uncomfortable... I was in my own home."

After their conversation on Oct 3, Ms Khan would go on to lie in Parliament again on Oct 4 when questioned about the anecdote by Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

During her exchange with Mr Shanmugam, she had texted Mr Singh to ask him what she should do.

When Mr Singh was asked about this text message by the committee, he had said that there could have been no doubt that he expected her to set things right.

But Ms Khan told the committee on Wednesday that she had texted Mr Singh because she "was unsure of what to do".

"I thought that he would say just continue... because that was the conversation that we had the night before," she said. When he did not reply to her text message, she went ahead to continue lying as they had discussed, she added.

That night, Ms Khan met Mr Singh and WP chairman Sylvia Lim at Mr Singh's office in Parliament House. Mr Singh and Ms Lim had both told the committee that Ms Khan said during this meeting that perhaps there was "another path" - to tell the truth.

Explaining what she meant, she said on Wednesday: "I was hoping for a clear directive... to either tell the truth or to continue (with the lie)."

In response to Ms Khan’s suggestion, Mr Singh testified that he said rather angrily during the Oct 4 meeting that Ms Khan had chosen her path by lying again that day.

Ms Khan told the committee on Wednesday that she did not respond to this statement that night as she was shocked, given the conversation on Oct 3 during which "there was no intention or directive from his part to tell the truth".

Mr Singh and Ms Lim had also given evidence describing Ms Khan as distraught and in tears during the Oct 4 meeting.

But she denied this, saying that while she was stressed, she was not crying.

She also took issue with Mr Singh's characterisation of her state of mind: "He's trying to paint this picture of me as being emotionally or mentally unstable, which again, I think, is completely out of line and hopefully there's a testimony that... I'm of sound mind."

On Wednesday, Ms Khan was also asked about a Nov 29 meeting she had with the WP's disciplinary panel set up to look into her conduct after she admitted to her lie in Parliament on Nov 1.

Ms Lim’s notes from the meeting indicated that Mr Singh had told Ms Khan: “Before Oct session, I met you... I told you it was your call.”

Mr Singh said he did not use those words on Oct 3, but had told her she had to take responsibility for her lie.

Ms Khan confirmed that the words in Ms Lim’s notes were what Mr Singh said to her on Nov 29. But she added that Mr Singh never presented her with a choice on Oct 3, but had instead told her that if she continued with her narrative, he would not judge her.

“He did not put it forth as saying you can either tell the truth or you can continue with the lie,” she said.

See the full report released by the Committee of Privileges.

Watch the video of the hearing:

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