SINGAPORE - Workers' Party (WP) vice-chairman Faisal Manap on Thursday (Dec 9) repeatedly declined to answer a question from a parliamentary committee looking into a complaint against former WP MP Raeesah Khan.
This was despite reminders from the Committee of Privileges that refusing to answer its questions would amount to an offence and constitute contempt of Parliament, said the committee in a special report released on Saturday (Dec 11).
During a hearing before the committee on Thursday, Mr Faisal was asked about the notes he had brought with him, including a note he had prepared on the sequence of events pertaining to Ms Khan's telling of falsehoods in Parliament.
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, who is a member of the committee, asked Mr Faisal if he had discussed the contents of the note with anyone.
Mr Faisal replied that he had met WP chief Pritam Singh and WP chairman Sylvia Lim in the two days before the hearing, on Tuesday and Wednesday, for two to three hours each time. He said that during these meetings, he had checked with them whether the dates in the note were correct.
Mr Tong then asked whether Mr Singh and Ms Lim had brought any other documents with them to the meetings.
Mr Faisal then questioned the relevance of Mr Tong's question.
"How is this relevant to the point we are talking about, Raeesah? What are you trying to imply, can you tell me directly?" he asked.
"I don't understand why you are asking about what transacted, what happened between the three of us when the discussion is now focusing on Ms Raeesah. I've already answered you about the purpose of me having these notes."
Mr Tong said the committee was trying to find out whether there were other relevant documents which it has not seen. He then repeated his question.
Mr Faisal replied that Mr Singh and Ms Lim would also be appearing before the committee and would answer the question themselves.
"I don't intend to answer that," he added.
Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, who chairs the committee, then reminded Mr Faisal that he had been called to assist the committee in understanding the full circumstances of the incident, and that Mr Singh and Ms Lim would also be asked the same questions.
"These are fair questions to ask, because you were part of the discussions. We are trying to understand whether there are documents, whether there are facts that we may not be aware of, that will shed more light," said Mr Tan.
Mr Tan also reminded Mr Faisal that he had an obligation to answer the committee's questions and that refusing to do so or attempting to mislead the committee would be an offence and constitute contempt of Parliament.
Mr Tong asked the question again several times, and also asked Mr Faisal to reconsider his decision not to answer the question.
"It is a very serious problem if you either prevaricate or refuse to assist this committee, so will you please reconsider?" asked Mr Tong.
Mr Faisal said he was concerned that he may inadvertently mislead the committee by answering the question, as he was "not privy" to what documents Mr Singh and Ms Lim had brought.
He said Mr Singh and Ms Lim had brought documents to the meetings, but he refused to answer questions about what those documents were and whether he knew what they were.
Mr Tong said he was asking the question in order to understand whether the evidence given by Mr Faisal was influenced by his discussions with Mr Singh and Ms Lim, or whether it was entirely his own recollection.
He noted that the evidence Mr Faisal had given the committee paints a picture of him having "little to no involvement" in the incident involving Ms Khan.
"I am trying to understand why. It strikes me that, as a senior member of the Workers' Party... someone in your position would have wanted to be interested in knowing what's going on with your party," said Mr Tong.
"What piqued my interest about your note and your construction of a sequence of events is, how is it that you don't really have much involvement in this, but could spend some time preparing a sequence of events?"
Mr Faisal replied that his notes were based on his own recollection. He also agreed to have his refusal to answer the questions placed on record.