Psychiatrist Dr Christopher Cheok said that former MP Raeesah Khan was of sound mind, and was mentally fit and present to make the statements that she did. What she said, both in Parliament and at the COP, was done out of her own will and she knew what she was doing.
Dr Cheok’s professional assessment of Ms Khan followed a request by WP leader Pritam Singh for a psychiatric evaluation of Ms Khan. Mr Singh had said that Ms Khan may be predisposed to lying and therefore, her evidence to the COP unreliable because of her mental condition of “disassociation”. The request was acceded to by the COP. Ms Khan also agreed to undergo an independent psychiatric assessment.
Dr Cheok said that based on his assessment, during the material period from 3 Aug to 3 Dec 2021, Ms Khan did not suffer from any significant psychiatric disorder that would have impaired her ability to speak truthfully in Parliament or before the COP.
He assessed her to be of sound mind, mentally fit and present to make the statements that she did. Her speech delivered in Parliament on 3 August was done neither impulsively nor as a result of dissociation or any psychiatric disorder.
Dr Cheok said that it was not within his remit to comment on why Ms Khan lied. There are many other reasons why people lie. It is his assessment that Ms Khan did not suffer from any psychiatric disorder that would predispose her to telling untruths. Also, persons with psychiatric disorders do not generally tell untruths more frequently than any other human being.
Dr Cheok also said that Ms Khan did not have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
He explained that dissociation is a symptom and not a medical diagnosis. It refers to the loss of integrative function of the human mind and may also be experienced by normal persons in different situations.
Dr Cheok was asked by WP MP Dennis Tan, who is also a panel member on the COP, about dissociative identity disorder. Dr Cheok explained that dissociative identity disorder, commonly called multiple identity disorder, is a different and very rare disorder. Those who suffer from this disorder would have typically gone through repeated childhood trauma, and would switch between different identities or even speak in different voices. He said that Ms Khan certainly did not fit this description.
WP Dennis Tan asked Dr Cheok how he would reconcile his finding that Ms Khan did not suffer from PTSD or dissociation, with the evidence of some witnesses (Mr Pritam Singh, Ms Sylvia Lim, and Mr Faisal Manap), who said that Ms Khan would get emotional whenever her sexual assault was mentioned.
In response, Dr Cheok said that a sexual assault was one of the most traumatic experiences someone would ever go through. It was very normal, and understandable for a survivor to show emotion when the topic came up and to continue to have some anxiety when speaking about the topic. This did not mean the person would be mentally impaired or incapacitated. In fact, it would be abnormal to speak plainly and without emotion on one’s assault.
While Ms Khan had some symptoms of being psychologically traumatised, Dr Cheok said the symptoms did not reach the threshold of a psychiatric disorder.
Dennis Tan asked if it was possible that Ms Khan’s judgement could have been so affected by the trauma that it caused her to have ‘false memory creation’.
Dr Cheok responded by reiterating that Ms Khan did not suffer from dissociation, and that in his assessment, when Ms Khan spoke of her assault, she was not affected to an extent that caused her to lose her mental capacity.
Dr Christopher Cheok is Acting Chief and Senior Consultant, Department of Forensic Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health
You can watch the hearing here: