WP’s ‘strategy’ to avoid addressing key findings from COP during debate: Indranee

Leader of the House Indranee Rajah speaking in Parliament during the debate on the Committee of Privileges report on Feb 15, 2022. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Workers' Party leaders have not addressed key findings from Parliament's Committee of Privileges on why lies were told repeatedly in the House, said Leader of the House Indranee Rajah on Tuesday (Feb 15).

Wrapping up the debate on two motions she filed related to the report on an untruth spoken in the House by former WP MP Raeesah Khan, Ms Indranee said speeches by Leader of the Opposition and WP chief Pritam Singh, as well as those by party chairman Sylvia Lim and vice-chairman Faisal Manap, did not address the committee's key findings.

"I can understand tactically and strategically why you do that, because you've got this big report that says these really strong statements," she said.

"So it's probably a strategy - a good idea not to deal with those head-on but to pick small little things here and there and to hope that other people will look at that."

One such finding that the WP leaders did not address was why it took so long to have the truth told to Parliament regarding Ms Khan's lie, Ms Indranee said.

Ms Khan had on Aug 3 claimed to have accompanied a sexual assault victim to a police station, where officers allegedly handled the matter insensitively and drove the victim to tears.

On Aug 8, Ms Khan had confessed to all three senior WP leaders. However, she repeated the untruth on Oct 4, before coming clean in Parliament on Nov 1.

"Why did it take so long to have the truth told to Parliament? You would think that from the time that is disclosed to them, the first reaction should be: 'Oh no, this is terrible, we better go back and clarify'," said Ms Indranee.

"But no, this matter dragged on for one month, two months, three months. And it only came about after the police had already put in their request for an interview and it became clear that this issue was not going to go away."

She was referring to the police asking Ms Khan for an interview about the case she cited.

Another "puzzling" issue that WP leaders did not address was why there was no direct instruction for the truth to be told, Ms Indranee said.

She said that despite all the evidence given by the opposition members, there was no clear instruction from them to Ms Khan to come clean.

"Instead, there's this passing of words... I mean how difficult is it to just say 'Raeesah, tell the truth'. How difficult is it to do that? Not very. Anybody should know how you can do that."

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There is also the matter of whether or not Ms Khan's parents had been told about her lie, and about the fact that she was a sexual assault victim.

The WP leaders had told the committee during its hearings that they did not press Ms Khan to set the record straight when they learnt on Aug 8 that she had lied, because they wanted to give her time to speak to her parents.

"If that was so, how come nobody asked her whether she had told her parents? Why was no effort made to find out if she cleared that so that you could come back to Parliament and tell the truth?" said Ms Indranee.

These are pertinent questions that have not been answered, she added in rounding up the debate.

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After a four-hour debate, Parliament voted to refer Workers' Party leaders Pritam Singh and Faisal Manap to the Public Prosecutor over a lying scandal. During the debate, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said integrity was the linchpin of democracy.

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