Why the conduct of the 3 senior leaders of WP matters in meting out penalties to Raeesah Khan

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The hearings by the Committee of Privileges were convened to look into Ms Raeesah Khan’s lies and to determine the penalties for her lies.

No one imagine – when Raeesah Khan was first referred to the COP –  that it would expand into a hearing that included the conduct of the 3 senior leaders of WP, Mr Pritam Singh, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Faisal Manap.

The role and knowledge of the 3 Senior WP leaders was only disclosed after this Committee started its proceedings. It emerged on day 1 of the hearing that the 3 senior leaders knew of Ms Khan’s lies just days after they were uttered.

Why it matters

What did they do with this knowledge? What advice did they give to Ms Khan? The answers to these questions are all relevant and of considerable importance in deciding Ms Khan’s level of responsibility.

If the 3 senior WP leaders had advised her on 8 Aug to take the to the grave, and if Mr Singh had advised her on 3 Oct to repeat the in Parliament again on 4 Oct, then it will be a mitigating factor to be taken into consideration. After all, Ms Khan, being 28 and a first-term MP, can be expected to defer to her senior Party leaders.

But if Ms Khan had repeated her on her own accord on 4 Oct, then it becomes an aggravating factor against her.

It will become a further aggravating factor against her if she lied to the COP that the leaders had advised her to continue with the untruth.

The role of the 3 senior WP leaders

As it turned out, Mr Singh had advised Ms Khan on 8 August 2021 to ‘retain the narrative that she began in August’ and to ‘take it to the grave’ if she was not pressed. Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Faisal Manap agreed with Mr Singh’s advice.

"I will not judge you."

It is undisputed by Mr Singh that he did not tell Ms Khan directly to tell the truth. Rather, he told her when he met her at her on 3 Oct that she had to ‘take ownership and responsibility of the issue’.  He asserted that by this, he meant she had to tell the truth. It is undisputed that he also told her that he would not ‘judge her’.

Why did Mr Singh say to Ms Khan that  he would not judge her? What’s there to judge if she listened to him and told the truth? ‘Judging Ms Khan is only relevant if she continues with the untruth.

"What should I do, Pritam?"

If Mr Singh had indeed made clear to her to tell the truth if the matter arose on 4 Oct, then it does not make sense that Ms Khan would send a text message to Mr Singh asking “what should I do” when she was answering Mr Shanmugam’s questions in Parliament (4 Oct).

"Perhaps there is another way. That is, to tell the truth."

It is also undisputed by Mr Singh that when he met with Ms Khan late on 4 Oct in his LO office (while Parliament was still going on) that Ms Khan said to him “perhaps there is another way. That is, to tell the truth”.

This statement directly contradicts Mr Singh’s evidence that he had already told Ms Khan that she was to tell the truth. How can there be ‘another way’ that is the way of truth if he had already told Ms Khan to tell the truth?

"I told you it was your call."

Perhaps the most damaging piece of evidence to the testimony given by Mr Singh is the handwritten notes produced voluntarily by Ms Sylvia Lim. These were said to be verbatim notes of the DP interview with Ms Khan on 29 Nov.

The notes she produced had Mr Singh saying to Ms Khan, 

“Before Oct session, I met you + told you it was your call…”

Ms Lim, a lawyer and Chairman of the WP, would have appreciated the effect of such evidence. It directly contradicted Mr Singh’s evidence that he did not give Ms Khan a choice.

"Thank you for listening to me, for caring for me and for guiding me through this without judgement."

Ms Khan sent an email to the 3 senior leaders to thank them for their care and guidance and to seek direction from them on how to respond to the police’s request for an interview.

The email is very telling. Why would she thank them for their guidance if she had gone against Mr Singh’s instruction?

Lack of urgency

For the period from 8 August to 3 Oct 2021, the 3 Senior WP leaders did not do anything that shows any immediacy, urgency or desire to get the truth clarified. Their inaction is consistent with not wanting the clarified, that the matter can be buried. Throughout this time, Mr Singh did not ask Ms Khan whether she had told her parents about her sexual assault even though he said that was his “immediate concern”.

No contemporaneous evidence

The 3 Senior WP leaders did not produce any contemporaneous evidence which supports their version of the disputed facts. This was despite them being specifically asked by this Committee to produce all documents in their possession or under their control.

The lack of documents raises questions. If they had intended that the truth be told, it would be reasonable to expect that there would be some emails, or documentation. But there was not a
shred of objectively verifiable, contemporaneous evidence which supports the position taken by the 3 Senior WP leaders.

In contrast, Ms Khan and Ms Loh have produced evidence (including their WhatsApp exchanges) that independently and contemporaneously corroborate their actions at the material time. At material junctures, Ms Khan, Ms Loh and Mr Nathan kept each other updated about their discussions with Mr Singh, Ms Lim and/or Mr Faisal, and these updates cohere with the contemporaneous events and conduct.

Raeesah's punishment

Ms Khan alone is fully responsible for the first time she uttered the lies in Parliament on 3 August. For that, the COP recommends that she be fined $25,000.

For repeating the on 4 Oct, she is fined a less $10,000. This takes into account the fact that she had acted with guidance from the 3 senior WP leaders on 8 August, and that she had been guided by Mr Singh on 3 Oct to continue with the untruth. These are mitigating factors taken into consideration.

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