Raeesah Khan may have lied in WhatsApp message due to dissociation: Pritam Singh

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SINGAPORE - Ms Raeesah Khan possibly suffers from dissociation, which could be why she lied in her WhatsApp message to her aides that she was told by party leaders to "take the information to the grave", Leader of the Opposition and Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh said on Friday (Dec 10).

Giving evidence at the Committee of Privileges, Mr Singh said Ms Khan told the Workers' Party disciplinary panel of her supposed mental health condition on Nov 29.

"It was the first time I heard of it. I asked her what dissociation was. She said 'It's when I talk without thinking'," he said. "I asked her, 'Don't you think that's dangerous for an MP?' And she said 'yes'.

"It may be helpful for this committee to call for some psychiatric report or evaluation on Ms Khan."

Mr Singh said Ms Khan's account that senior WP leaders had told her on Aug 8 to continue with her lie after she had confessed it to them "is a complete lie".

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During the Dec 10 hearing - after which the Committee of Privileges released its third special report - Culture, Community and Youth Minister Edwin Tong asked Mr Singh to suggest reasons why Ms Khan would lie in her WhatsApp message to her two WP assistants.

Shortly after she met with Mr Singh, WP chairman Sylvia Lim and WP vice-chair Faisal Manap on Aug 8, Ms Khan told her assistants that the WP leaders had told her not to come clean about her lie that she had accompanied a sexual assault victim to the police station.

It was then that Mr Singh said Ms Khan's self-confessed dissociation could be a relevant factor.

"Could (her confessed dissociation) be a lie? To me, it's possible. But if we are talking about culpability, and proportionality, I think it may be helpful (to mention this)."

Dissociation is a mental health condition where a person disconnects from one's thoughts and feelings, and this can have effects on one's day-to-day functioning. It can lead to emotional numbing, a feeling that one is a different person, and an altered sense of time.

One cause of dissociation is past trauma, including sexual or physical assault.

Mr Tong pointed out that Mr Singh had earlier said that nothing of Ms Khan's general performance as an MP was out of the ordinary, calling Mr Singh's explanation and his suggestion that the committee evaluate Ms Khan's mental health "quite inappropriate".

"I'm not sure that the event that you mentioned on Nov 29 is basis for us to call for a psychiatric assessment of Ms Khan," Mr Tong said. "I think we know why you raised that suggestion."

Later, when Mr Tong once more asked Mr Singh what reason Ms Khan had to lie to her assistants - "people who she's close with, and who's helping her" - Mr Singh said the episode had shown that Ms Khan has a habit of lying.

He then agreed with his own earlier characterisation of Ms Khan that "she may have a problem".

During the hearing, Mr Singh also raised the matter that neither of Ms Khan's two assistants - Ms Loh Pei Ying and Mr Yudhishthra Nathan - had told the Committee of Privileges that Mr Pritam had told them that he had instructed Ms Khan to keep lying.

"This is Ms Khan's recollection to them," he said.

Ms Loh and Mr Nathan had earlier given evidence to the Committee of Privileges that they met Mr Singh on Oct 12, during which Mr Singh recounted that he had told Ms Khan on Oct 3 that he would not judge her, which they understood to mean it was Ms Khan's decision whether to come clean on her untruth.

Mr Singh said Ms Loh and Mr Nathan "had a skewed impression" of what he had told Ms Khan, likely because they were protective of Ms Khan.

Mr Tong noted that Ms Loh, a WP cadre member, had previously been Mr Singh's secretarial assistant. He asked if Mr Singh recalled speaking of her in glowing terms during his inaugural election rally in 2011, to which Mr Singh replied: "Well, it was 10 years ago."

Mr Tong put it to Mr Singh that Ms Khan had no reason to lie to her closest associates, given that she had confessed about her untruth in Parliament to the WP leadership, Ms Loh and Mr Nathan, and was speaking to her friends in a closed group.

Mr Singh replied: "This rendition (by Ms Khan) of what has happened is a complete, utter fabrication. It's a lie, a bare lie."

See the full report released by the Committee of Privileges.

Watch videos of the nine-hour hearing:

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