Pritam Singh, Sylvia Lim and Faisal Manap to speak in Parliament debate on COP report

(From left) Mr Pritam Singh, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Faisal Manap will be expressing their views on the COP report in Parliament, said the Workers' Party. PHOTOS: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - Top leaders of the Workers' Party (WP) will be expressing their views on Parliament's Committee of Privileges' (COP) report when the House debates it next Tuesday.

In a statement on Friday (Feb 11), the party noted that the committee had called for a fine of $35,000 for its former MP Raeesah Khan for lying in Parliament.

The committee had recommended that WP chief and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, who is an MP for Aljunied GRC, be referred to the Public Prosecutor for further investigations. It had also done the same for Aljunied GRC MP and WP vice-chair Faisal Manap.

"The Workers' Party notes these developments with grave concern. The last time criminal charges were brought against an elected Opposition MP relating to their political work was in the 1980s," said the WP.

"Mr Pritam Singh, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Faisal Manap will be expressing their views on the COP report in Parliament (which, like the COP, is dominated by MPs from the ruling People's Action Party)."

The WP added that Mr Singh and Mr Faisal will also cooperate with the Public Prosecutor and defend themselves in court in the event that charges are brought against them.

The party said it will continue to work for Singapore and Singaporeans as its two elected MPs address these matters.

"All our elected MPs will continue to serve our constituents to the very best of our ability while the party's work in other constituencies continues," it said.

The committee’s report, which it released on Thursday, was the culmination of its probe into the lies told by Ms Khan in Parliament in August and October last year.

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. She repeated the untruth on Oct 4.

The committee said it was satisfied that Mr Singh was untruthful in giving evidence under oath, and that this may amount to perjury, a serious criminal offence. It recommended that Mr Singh be referred to the Public Prosecutor for further investigations.

It also similarly recommended that Mr Faisal be referred to the Public Prosecutor for further investigations over his refusal to answer relevant questions put forth during its hearings, and to consider if criminal proceedings ought to be instituted.

The report will be debated in Parliament next week and MPs will vote on whether to accept its recommendations.

A long-time party cadre, who spoke to The Straits Times on condition of anonymity, said the party’s central executive committee, its top decision-making body, is standing behind the three party leaders.

Another member, who has contested an election under the party’s banner, said there was some disquiet among members about what might happen in Aljunied GRC if Mr Singh and Mr Faisal end up being charged with criminal offences and convicted.

Remote video URL

Two WP party members – both former parliamentarians – voiced concerns that the recent developments would result in people who are keen to serve being “turned off” and  reconsider joining the political fray as a member of the opposition.

Former Punggol East MP Lee Li Lian said in a Facebook post on Friday that she had joined WP in 2006 as “everyone can play their part in moulding the politics we want in Singapore” and there is nothing to be fearful about.

“Till today, I still talk openly about my political affiliations because there is nothing to fear. But now I fear. I fear not because of my affiliation,” she said.

“I fear that interested individuals who want to serve or make a difference in whatever ways, are thinking twice and getting turned off. I fear we may end up not having any alternative voices in Parliament.”

Former Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong described the developments as a “sad state for Singapore politics”.

In his post, he added: “We do have enough for more than one team but our politics must change. Some interested to serve Singapore will be turned off by the PAP’s tactics. 

“They will weigh the cost to be on the other side. Then, they decide to stay out. We end up with less than the best, a lose-lose situation.”

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.