SINGAPORE - When Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam pressed then Workers' Party (WP) MP Raeesah Khan in Parliament on Oct 4 to provide more details of her allegation of the police mishandling a sexual assault case, she texted her party chief this: "What should I do, Pritam?"
This emerged in Mr Pritam Singh's testimony to the Committee of Privileges investigating a lie told by Ms Khan in Parliament on Aug 3 - an untruth she would repeat in response to Mr Shanmugam in October, and which eventually led to her resignation as both WP member and MP on Nov 30.
Mr Singh recounted to the committee on Friday (Dec 10) that following Ms Khan's reaffirmation of her fabrication, she met him and WP chairman Sylvia Lim late that night and in a dazed, distraught state said: "Perhaps there is another way. That is, to tell the truth."
According to a special report and video footage released by the committee on Sunday (Dec 12), Mr Singh also agreed that if an MP is aware that a falsehood has been told to Parliament, the MP has an obligation to correct it, regardless of whether the lie came from that MP or not.
As leader of the opposition, he also had a duty to correct Ms Khan's lie, but Mr Singh argued: "The question is, at what time do I do it given the unique situation that concerns this falsehood?"
On Oct 3, the day before Mr Shanmugam's ministerial statement, Mr Singh said he had told her to take responsibility for her lie and that he would not judge her if she did. He believed this meant she knew she had to tell the truth if the matter was brought up, said the special report.
"It is at odds with his understanding, because the matter did come up on Oct 4 and yet she was asking him for instructions on what she should do," the report stated.
Mr Singh said he read Ms Khan's text only after her exchange with Mr Shanmugam had ended. He replied: "Will speak after sitting. Keep Chair and I posted."
"I think that's a very clear choice that she has made," Mr Singh told the committee.
"And this is going to lead her down a very negative path. And there's really nothing else for me to say - you have dug your own grave already by not telling the truth.
"And so that is the context of 'Will speak after sitting'," he added.
"It's quite clear that you have basically destroyed your own political career."
Mr Singh agreed that the issue the committee was looking into - an MP lying in Parliament - was a very serious matter, and that if a WP MP told a lie, the minimum expected was that they would have to correct it, and come forward with the truth.
When he and Ms Lim met Ms Khan that evening, she was distraught and he said: "What have you done?"
Ms Khan then said, with a dazed look in her eyes: "Perhaps there is another way. That is, to tell the truth".
Mr Singh replied: "But look at the choice you've made." He recalled that at that moment, Ms Khan completely broke down.
Mr Singh was very upset but also relieved that Ms Khan was making a point about honesty, and he saw this as her being now prepared to own up and tell the truth.
"In my point of view, the only reason why she had not told the truth was because she had not squared away the fact that her parents did not know what had happened," he told the committee, referring to her explanation that she had lied because of the personal trauma of being sexually assaulted.
Mr Singh said he saw no way that Ms Khan would have been able to come up with a clarifying statement, close the issue with her parents and make a personal explanation by the next morning's Parliament sitting.
The special report said that Mr Singh did not ask Ms Khan then whether she had spoken to her parents yet.
It also noted Mr Singh disagreed with the committee asking him if Ms Khan's words suggested that she was under the impression, until that point, not to tell the truth.
The next meeting between Mr Singh, Ms Lim and Ms Khan was on Oct 12, where Mr Singh wanted to discuss how to correct the lie in Parliament.
Mr Singh told the committee that Ms Khan had "turned around" then and was reluctant to make a personal explanation as she was not comfortable with it.
"I remember Sylvia getting very upset with her," said Mr Singh.
"I said: Look, this is something that has to be done, there's just no two ways about that."
Ms Khan eventually agreed and on Nov 1, delivered a statement in Parliament admitting she had lied and apologised to the police.
See the full report released by the Committee of Privileges.
Watch videos of the nine-hour hearing: