The Committee of Privileges (COP) released its second report today (Dec. 11), containing a summary of evidence given by Workers' Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) and WP Vice-Chair Muhammad Faisal bin Abdul Manap.
The last section of this summary focused on one aspect of Faisal's interview: A note he brought with him to the hearing, and his refusal to answer questions relating to it.
What was the COP asking about?
Faisal was questioned for over 20 minutes about the note by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, a member of the COP.
The COP started by asking about the note, and in the course of their questioning, Faisal revealed that he had met WP Secretary-General Pritam Singh, and WP Chair Sylvia Lim prior to his interview with the COP, which took place on Dec. 9.
The meetings, Faisal said, took place on Dec. 7 and 8, and lasted for two to three hours on each day.
Despite questioning by Tong, Faisal said that he would not be answering questions about documents that may have been brought along to these meetings by Singh and Lim.
Faisal asks why questions are relevant to complaint against Raeesah
In the course of Tong's questioning, Faisal also asked why the questions about his note, and about the documents brought to the meetings between him, Singh, and Lim were relevant to the proceedings.
Tong explained: "we are trying to understand whether there are relevant documents which exist, which we haven't seen".
He also said to Faisal: "It is not for you to ask me, or tell me what to ask," saying that Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, the chairman of the COP, would stop him if he asked any irrelevant questions.
Tong then asked: "So at this meeting which took place yesterday and the day before, two to three hours each, were there other documents which Mr Pritam Singh and Ms Lim, did they bring along any other documents to this meeting?"
Faisal replied, "Mr Edwin, Mr Pritam and Ms Sylvia will be called up later on, I believe you can ask them about this? I don't intend to answer that."
Tan then chimed in, saying that "these are fair questions to ask" and that the committee is trying to understand whether there are other documents or facts they may not be aware of that may shed more light.
I'm only comfortable answering about my own document: Faisal
After Tong asked again what documents Singh and Lim brought to their meeting, and Faisal declined to answer, Speaker Tan asked why he was doing so.
"Because firstly, as I mentioned just now, Ms Sylvia and Mr Pritam may be here to answer that question. And I may, may recall wrongly of the document. I can say, I'm only comfortable of what I feel and (what) I can recall correctly about what I brought to the meeting.
(You see, Mr Faisal-)
So I do not want to give (an) untruth or something which (deviates) from the truth."
The meeting just took place recently: Tong
Tong then noted that the meetings just took place over the last two days, and Faisal was there personally.
Tong then said he thought he was entitled to ask Faisal, from his perspective, what were the documents Singh and Lim brought to the meeting?
Faisal replied that he was only "privy" to the document he had with him, and not to the documents they brought.
Tong asked to the extent that Faisal was aware, did Singh and Lim bring documents to the meeting?
Faisal said he was not going to answer that question.
Faisal was reminded that refusing to answer directly would be an offence
Faisal maintained this stance even after Tan stepped in to remind him of his "solemn obligation" to answer questions truthfully, and to warn him that it would be an offence for him to refuse to answer questions directly, or attempt to mislead the COP.
"Will you place on record that you refuse to answer that question?" asked Tan at one point.
"Indeed. You can say that, Sir." responded Faisal.
"Can you please reconsider answering the question, because it is a very serious problem if you either prevaricate or you refuse to assist this committee. So can you please reconsider?" said Tong.
Faisal then replied: "Minister Edwin, as I mentioned... I took the affirmation earlier on. I do not want to mislead the committee. Instead of me trying to say, and I may actually mislead the committee."
Tong then rephrased his earlier questions, saying: "Mr. Faisal, all I asked you for, repeatedly over the last 10 minutes was, from your perspective, from your knowledge, whether they brought documents and if so, what documents those were. From your perspective."
Faisal and Tong at odds
"I'm not going to answer that," said Faisal.
This reply, Tong said, was "quite inconceivable".
Faisal repeated that he would not answer the question, saying that he did not want to "give any misleading information."
He did, however, reply it was "possible" when asked if Singh and Lim had brought any documents to the meeting.
But when asked if he knew what the documents were, he again said "I'm not going to answer that question."
Materials available online
Tong then asked Faisal to give copies of his documents to the COP, which Faisal agreed to.
The COP then moved on to another line of questioning.
Meanwhile, members of the public can expect to hear the testimony of three other WP MPs: Singh, Sylvia Lim, and Jamus Lim.
Top image screenshots via gov.sg on YouTube
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