Workers’ Party has set up a disciplinary panel to look into Raeesah Khan’s lies in Parliament. This comes one day after her apology in Parliament and after Mr Pritam Singh had posted a Facebook post that Raeesah had done the right thing.
The disciplinary panel appeared to be set up after the apology and Facebook post by Mr Singh failed to quell the public outcry over deliberately lying 3 times in Parliament, the sacred office of the land where polices are made.
The panel comprises the three top leaders in WP, namely, Pritam Singh, Sylvia Lim and Faisal Manap. You will recall that Ms Sylvia Lim was described by two, not one, high court judges (Quentin Loh and Kannan Ramesh) as being dishonest. How can supporters of the party be assured that the panel will be fair and transparent? Exactly when did the leadership in WP know that the anecdote was a lie? Was the party complicit in the lie? If they were, will they throw Raeesah Khan under the bus to save themselves and the party?
Many questions have been raised. It is inconceivable that with mounting evidence that Raeesah’s anecdote was highly questionable after the August 3 and Oct 4 sittings in Parliament, the WP did not do their own checks. Either they did not see the allegation as serious, or they were complicit, or just grossly incompetent.
Former NCMP Daniel Goh who remains a cadre in the party said in a Facebook post, “The leadership must take some responsibility for allowing this transgression to happen and persist over several months. The statement was not made on impulse.”
Daniel Goh also revealed from his experience that speeches were shared and reviewed among the WP MPs. “We might disagree and debate, but we would make corrections or drop things entirely according to the collective consensus. If a mistake was made, we would immediately move to rectify it,” he said.
He also added that he hope the top three leaders in the disciplinary panel will ‘recognise their responsibility IN this matter and accountability to the public ON this matter’.
With so many questions and doubt, it is perhaps time for WP to put one of their favourite calls into practice: the formation of an independent panel.
Mr Pritam Singh and Ms Sylvia Lim should recuse themselves and should be the last people to be on the panel. WP should instead appoint independent non-partisan individuals to be on the panel. The disciplinary panel should not focus on Ms Khan alone but should also investigate whether there were any other WP members who were aware of her lies and chose to remain silent for months.
But of course, an independent panel is not going to happen as this is internal party discipline.
Former NMP Calvin Cheng made a good call though. He thought the investigations should go beyond Ms Raeesah Khan.
In a Facebook post, he called on the Committee of Privileges to also investigate ‘ the role of the Parliamentary Workers’ Party itself, in these egregious breaches of parliamentary privilege’ and to investigate the following 3 questions pertaining to the party: