Sylvia Lim says she did not discuss Raeesah's lie with WP leaders as she left it to Pritam: Report

WP chairman Sylvia Lim at a Committee of Privileges hearing on Dec 13, 2021. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - For months, Workers' Party (WP) chairman Sylvia Lim knew of Ms Raeesah Khan's lie in Parliament but did not discuss with fellow leaders a timeframe for addressing this matter as she had left WP chief Pritam Singh to handle it, Ms Lim told the Committee of Privileges.

This was because she believed Mr Singh knew Ms Khan best and was guiding her, and so she left it to him to follow up on this matter after Aug 8, when Ms Khan had first confessed her lie in Parliament to Ms Lim, Mr Singh, and WP vice-chairman Faisal Manap.

The Committee of Privileges is looking into a complaint against Ms Khan, who had admitted lying in Parliament. She resigned in November from the party and her position as a Sengkang GRC MP.   

Ms Khan said in a speech on Aug 3 that she had accompanied a sexual assault victim to a police station, but the victim later came out crying after being asked by the police about her dressing and whether she had been drinking.

She has since confessed to lying about the case and admitted that she had not accompanied the victim to the police station.

According to a special report released on Tuesday (Dec 14), the fourth so far, Ms Lim also did not discuss the lie with Mr Singh, Mr Faisal, or anyone else.

In particular, Ms Lim confirmed that she did not discuss with the party leadership whether Ms Khan's lie would be clarified in Parliament during the September sitting. Ms Khan did not attend that session due to a case of shingles.

Ms Lim said she did not do any of these things because she felt that Mr Singh was the WP leader who was guiding Ms Khan and was closest to her.

"Basically, I left it to Pritam (Singh) to follow up with her because he knows her best," she said. "Historically, she was helping him in his Meet-the-People session in Eunos - I think for about a year prior to the GE (general election) - and I think he had some communications, on and off, with her family."

During a hearing on Monday of more than three hours, Ms Lim also told the committee that she could not "fathom" the possibility that Mr Singh would have given Ms Khan the choice between telling the truth and lying again.

It was for this reason that she did not clarify with Mr Singh what he and Ms Khan had discussed and agreed to, between Aug 8 and their meeting on Oct 12.

Ms Lim provided the committee with a copy of notes that she had taken during the WP's disciplinary panel interview with Ms Khan on Nov 29, which were reproduced in the report.

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The notes showed Mr Singh asking Ms Khan if she could recall their meeting before the October Parliament session, and that he had told her it was her call on what to do.

According to Ms Lim's notes, Mr Singh had asked Ms Khan if the need to tell the truth in Parliament had occurred to her.

Ms Khan then replied that this did occur to her, but she had not done so due to her guilt and her own experience. Ms Khan also thought the matter would not come up during the sitting.

The notes captured Mr Singh having asked Ms Khan "can't lie, right?" to which she agreed.

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When asked for her views on what Mr Singh had said to Ms Khan during this interview, Ms Lim told the committee that he seemed to have said that it was for Ms Khan to decide what to do on Oct 4, if the issue arose in Parliament.

In another part of Ms Lim's evidence, she described how she could not conceive of Mr Singh asking Ms Khan to lie.

"Ms Lim said... she would not have believed that Mr Singh would have given Ms Khan a choice to lie, if the matter arose again, and that she could not 'fathom' the possibility that Mr Singh would have given Ms Khan the choice between telling the truth and lying again," said the report.

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In his evidence before the committee, Mr Singh said he told Ms Khan she had to take ownership and responsibility of the issue and had an expectation that she would clarify the truth if it came up again in Parliament, but added that he had no plans to voluntarily raise the issue.

The report also disclosed that Ms Lim had told Ms Khan at their Oct 12 meeting that she did not have to respond to the police's Oct 7 request for an interview, since Ms Khan was going to be making a clarification in Parliament.

Ms Lim agreed with the committee that as an experienced politician, she immediately appreciated the gravity and seriousness of the matter on finding out about Ms Khan's Aug 8 untruth in Parliament.

But while the lie would have to be clarified, Ms Lim did not apply her mind, at that time, to the question of how and when it should be corrected, the report added.

Ms Lim told the committee that she did not recall any conversation between Mr Singh, Mr Faisal and herself on Aug 8 concerning Ms Khan's lie in Parliament, or the next steps that needed to be taken.

She also did not say anything to Ms Khan then about next steps to correct the parliamentary record as Ms Khan had to speak with her parents first about her sexual assault before anything else could be done.

Ms Lim said that she disagreed with Ms Khan's account that the opposition party's leaders had told her to take her lie "to the grave", which aligns with what Mr Singh said in his hearing last week.

Mr Singh had told the committee on Friday (Dec 10) that Ms Khan's recounting this was a "complete, utter fabrication".

Following the meeting between WP leaders and Ms Khan on Aug 8, Ms Lim said no concrete steps that she was aware of were taken towards having Ms Khan go to Parliament to clarify the lie.

Ms Lim said she did not subsequently communicate with Ms Khan about her Aug 3 lie, and did not check whether she had informed her family about having been a victim of sexual assault, said the report.

An e-mail the party chief sent on Oct 1 to all WP MPs reminding them about the need to be able to substantiate what they say in the House meant that he had "his eye on the matter" involving Ms Khan, she added.

"I had my reasons for leaving the matter for Pritam (Singh) to follow up on, so I did not myself speak to her on these matters, to confirm what had been done or not done," said Ms Lim.

See the full report released by the Committee of Privileges.

Watch videos of Ms Lim's testimony:

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