SINGAPORE - Workers’ Party vice-chairman Faisal Manap told the Committee of Privileges it was hard to explain rationally why he and other party leaders had not reacted sooner to set the record right when they were aware for months that former Sengkang GRC MP Raeesah Khan had lied to Parliament.
He acknowledged that he, WP chief Pritam Singh and party chairman Sylvia Lim had known about Ms Khan’s repeated lying in Parliament, but had chosen not to disclose this to other party leaders, even during disciplinary hearings into the matter.
In his testimony to the committee on Thursday (Dec 9), he disclosed that he had met Mr Singh and Ms Lim twice ahead of the hearings, but refused to reveal what had transpired during those sessions.
He also disputed Ms Khan’s account that they had told her that the best thing to do was to take the lie she told in Parliament on Aug 3 “to the grave”.
But Mr Faisal agreed that everything Ms Khan had done after her Aug 8 meeting with WP leaders would be consistent with her account to two party members of the meeting, if that account was true.
According to a special report released by the committee on Saturday (Dec 11), Mr Faisal said Ms Khan was lying about this part of a text message that she had sent to two other WP members, but he could not explain why she would do so.
He had told the committee that neither he, Mr Singh nor Ms Lim – all of whom are MPs for Aljunied GRC – had reacted or discussed what to do when Ms Khan confessed to them on Aug 8 that she had lied in Parliament, as they had been overwhelmed after hearing about her sexual assault.
Their main concern was for her well-being, he added.
When asked by the committee, Mr Faisal said he understood that it would be hard to understand why the three WP leaders did not react to Ms Khan’s confession that she had told an untruth in Parliament.
He accepted that it was bad to lie to Parliament, and agreed it was equally wrong to allow a lie to carry on in Parliament.
“He also agreed that if one knew of a true fact which would correct a deception on Parliament, keeping quiet would also be a problem, and could possibly amount to an offence,” said the report.
The report said Mr Faisal also agreed that it would have been logical for him to have asked questions about Ms Khan’s intention to clarify the lie after he became aware of it. But he said he had left it to Mr Singh to handle the matter because he trusted the Leader of the Opposition, having worked with him for more than 10 years as a fellow MP.
He believed that Mr Singh had the information to make the judgment call on the matter, and trusted Ms Khan to do the right thing, the report said.
Mr Faisal also said that the timing of when to have Ms Khan correct the record in Parliament would depend on Mr Singh’s judgment.
The report said Mr Faisal did not communicate further with Ms Khan, Mr Singh or Ms Lim on the lie Ms Khan had told after the Aug 8 meeting, till Oct 29. He was neither involved in nor aware of any discussions that the others might have had among themselves on the issue during this time.
The special report is the second one released by the Committee of Privileges, after it presented an initial report to Parliament on Dec 3.
That report, published on Parliament's website along with video footage of the committee's hearings, was based on testimonies from Ms Khan, her former secretarial assistant Loh Pei Ying, her former legislative assistant Lim Hang Ling and party member Yudhishthra Nathan.
Ms Khan had told the committee that Mr Singh, Ms Lim and Mr Faisal had known early on about her lie in Parliament on Aug 3 about having accompanied a rape victim to make a police report.
She also said party leaders had advised her to stick to the lie.
In her Aug 3 speech, Ms Khan said she had accompanied a 25-year-old rape victim to a police station to make a report, and that the officer who interviewed the victim had made inappropriate comments about the victim’s dressing and the fact that she had been drinking.
But Ms Khan never accompanied the victim to a police station.
She later admitted that the victim had shared the account in a support group for women, which Ms Khan herself was in, and said she did not have the victim’s consent to share the story.
Ms Khan subsequently resigned from the WP on Nov 30 and stepped down as an MP.
The WP had said it will respond to the allegations against its leaders in the first special report at an appropriate forum and juncture.
The committee also heard from Mr Singh on Friday, and said it will also speak to Ms Lim, as well as Sengkang GRC MP Jamus Lim.
Meanwhile, it met on Saturday to discuss the second special report, and is scheduled to meet again on Sunday.