WP's Pritam Singh disputes giving Raeesah Khan choice on correcting lie

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SINGAPORE - Workers' Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh has disputed the suggestion that he gave Ms Raeesah Khan a choice between clarifying and keeping to her lie, when he appeared before the Committee of Privileges on Wednesday (Dec 15) for the second time in a week.

The committee had summoned him back to clarify what he meant when he told Ms Khan "it was your call" on how to proceed should the issue of her lie come up in Parliament on Oct 4.

At her hearing on Monday, WP chairman Sylvia Lim had shared her notes which she had taken on Nov 29 when Ms Khan appeared before the WP’s disciplinary panel that was formed to look into her conduct.

The notes showed that Mr Singh had said it was Ms Khan’s call on what to do about the lie she told in Parliament. 

Ms Lim told the committee he seemed to have said that it was up to Ms Khan to decide what to do on Oct 4, if the issue arose in Parliament.

In his evidence on Wednesday, Mr Singh said he "communicated to her quite clearly" that she had to take ownership and responsibility for her untruth in Parliament.

He agreed that the phrase “your call” might be understood that he had, on Oct 3, told Ms Khan that she had to make a choice as to whether to tell the truth or continue to lie, if she was questioned about her story in Parliament on Oct 4. 

But Mr Singh said that when he said “your call”, he meant Ms Khan should take responsibility for her work in Parliament. He said that what he told Ms Khan at the disciplinary panel meeting on Nov 29 had to be looked at in context. 

Mr Singh also said that even though he had, on Nov 29, used the phrase “it is your call to make” to describe what he had told Ms Khan on Oct 3, he had not used those exact words when they spoke on Oct 3. 

“I think this was the way I phrased my question to Ms Khan at the disciplinary panel. But insofar as what I said to her at the meeting at her house on Oct 3, it was clear that you had to take ownership and responsibility for it,” he said.

“And thereafter... I said ‘you know, I will not judge you’ but in the context of her appearing to look uncertain of herself.”

Ms Lim’s notes also captured Mr Singh asking Ms Khan “can’t lie, right?”, to which the former Sengkang GRC MP agreed.

“That’s a reasonable look at it, but in the context of how I put it to Ms Khan at the disciplinary panel, and in particular the question that I followed up with – I mean, ‘You really can’t tell a lie, can you?’ – I think the whole, entire context of the discussion on Oct 3 really comes back to Ms Khan having to take ownership and responsibility for this issue,” he said.

When asked why he did not say to Ms Khan clearly that she had to own up and tell the truth in Parliament, Mr Singh told the committee she had communicated that she had suffered a very traumatic episode. 

Due to this, he decided to take a course of action where she would first address the episode with her family, and thereafter he could pursue the matter of the untruth with her.

Mr Singh added that he had sent an e-mail on Oct 1 to all WP MPs reminding them about the need to be able to substantiate what they said in the House, which suggested that he was not personally going to let this issue remain on the parliamentary record.

Mr Singh was also asked by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong about the evidence presented by WP cadre Loh Pei Ying about a meeting he had with her.

The committee had previously heard that Ms Loh and another cadre, Mr Yudhishthra Nathan, had met Mr Singh at his house on Oct 12. During that meeting, she learnt that Mr Singh had met Ms Khan on Oct 3 and had said “I will not judge you” to Ms Khan.

Mr Tong pointed out that Ms Loh’s takeaway from the conversation between her and Mr Singh was that he had left Ms Khan with the choice of whether to tell the truth or otherwise with his words “I will not judge you”.

To this, Mr Singh said that those words seem to have been “seared in Ms Loh’s and even Mr Nathan’s minds”, which might have led her to not place enough emphasis on the context in which they were spoken, which is that Ms Khan had to take ownership and responsibility for her lie.

“I think they’ve placed a large amount of weight on it, and they’ve not placed enough emphasis on the context in which that phrase was shared,” he said.

“And hence, I think it follows why Ms Loh would make the representations that she has done.”

The Committee of Privileges is looking into a complaint against Ms Khan, who had admitted to lying in Parliament. She resigned in November from the party and her position as a Sengkang GRC MP.

Ms Khan said in a speech on Aug 3 that she had accompanied a sexual assault victim to a police station, but that the victim later came out crying after being asked by the police about her dressing and whether she had been drinking. She repeated the untruth on Oct 4.

She confessed on Nov 1 to lying about the case and admitted that she had not accompanied the victim to the police station. 

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