Edwin Tong asks Pritam Singh: Why did you not advise Raeesah Khan to go & see the police?

Pritam Singh said that Raeesah Khan had to clarify the matter in Parliament.

Sulaiman Daud | December 13, 2021, 05:01 PM

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During his hearing before the Committee of Privileges on Dec. 10, Workers' Party leader Pritam Singh had an exchange with committee member Edwin Tong on why Raeesah Khan did not inform the police she had lied in Parliament but only admitted to the lie in the Nov. 1 sitting of Parliament.

Raeesah Khan's evidence

Raeesah, the former Workers' Party Member of Parliament (MP) earlier gave evidence to the committee, as recorded in the first Special Report.

The relevant section reads:

"On 4 Oct, after she had lied again (Para 9 above), about the sexual assault case, Ms Khan met with Mr Pritam Singh and Ms Sylvia Lim. They met at Mr Pritam Singh’s office in Parliament (given to the Leader of the Opposition). They discussed the next steps, including about a possible Committee of Privileges which might be set up to look at Ms Khan’s conduct.

Neither Mr Pritam Singh nor Ms Sylvia Lim asked Ms Khan why she had lied again earlier, in answering questions asked by the Minister for Home Affairs. Nor did they suggest that Ms Khan clarify the truth in Parliament.

Ms Khan then received an email from the Police dated 7 Oct, inviting her to assist them in investigating the matters she had raised on 3 Aug in Parliament. Ms Khan sought advice from Mr Pritam Singh and Ms Sylvia Lim when she received this email. They directed her not to respond to the Police and to ignore the requests, as the Police could not compel Ms Khan to speak with the Police."

Pritam Singh says it's "not true" that he and Sylvia Lim directed Raeesah Khan not to respond to the police

During the Dec. 10 hearing, Tong asked Singh about this claim about not responding to the police. "This request by the police, Ms Khan says that she was directed by yourself and Ms Lim not to respond. Is that true?"

Singh replied, "That is not true."

After a brief exchange, Tong asked Singh if he "counselled, advised or directed" Raeesah to meet with the police, to which Singh said, "No, I did not."

Tong then said, "So you neither told her not to meet the police, nor did you tell her to meet the police, so what did you do?"

After a brief exchange, Singh said:

"I have to be very careful what I say because whatever I directed her to do was predicated on the fact that she had told a lie in Parliament. That is Section Five of the Parliament Act. And the nature of the advice was similar to my own thinking. And I did not ask her to...I expected you address this issue in Parliament, because it's a matter that has come up in Parliament and the appropriate forum to address it would be in Parliament.

That was my thinking. I did not order her, 'Don't talk to the police, don't do this, don't do that.' No, I don't recall saying this to her."

Tong and Singh agree that the request by the police was not unreasonable

Tong then said, "This request by the police...would be not an unreasonable one. It follows from the lack of clarity on the fourth of October. Correct?"

Singh said, "I disagree. I think it was something they ought to be aware of, that a matter has come up in Parliament, we believe in the separation of powers schema. An MP has said something in Parliament, it is for Parliament to correct that problem. And there's a good reason why that exists. There's a good reason why freedom of speech-"

Tong said, "Mr Singh, let me stop you there....Do you mean to say that if a Member of Parliament goes and makes a speech that accuses police, or any public agency for that matter, of behaving badly, that particular agency will have no interest in wanting to find out more?"

Singh replied that while the agency did have an interest in finding out more, "but through which channel do they find out more?" He said the agency put a request to the Home Affairs Minister to find out more in Parliament.

Tong replied that the Minister sought "clarification after clarification" and the details were not forthcoming. So a "natural step" would be for the police to ask for details.

Singh said "right", and said the Member of Parliament can rely on the Parliament Act to resolve this matter.

Tong said he was asking a different question, namely that the question asked by the police was not an unreasonable one.

Although Singh noted that it was "framed as a request", he did say that, "No, it was not unreasonable."

Screenshot from Gov.sg YouTube.

If it was not an unreasonable request, why didn't Singh ask Raeesah to go and see the police? : Edwin Tong

Tong then asked, "If it was not an unreasonable request, why did you not advise Ms Khan to go and see the police?"

Singh said, "Well in my view, she had said something in Parliament. I knew what the truth of what she had said. It was untrue. She concocted this anecdote, and it was for her to come to Parliament and correct it."

Tong then said:

"You're not answering my question.

(That's my answer.)

The police is now putting forward a not-unreasonable request. Asking questions of (a) fellow party member. You, by this time, know that an untruth is on the record concerning the police.


The police is trying to work out what the true position is.


Why would you not advise Ms Khan to attend the interview with the police and share her views?"

Singh answered, "Because I know what the next step has to be. She has to correct (the) untruth in Parliament."

Tong asked why it "must happen" in that sequence, to which Singh replied that was his reading of it. Tong then asked, "So the only way in which she could give an answer to the police was to stand up in Parliament and address it?"

Singh said yes. Tong then asked if Singh told her this, and he said he believed he communicated this to her verbally.

Email sent by Raeesah

Tong then referred to an email sent by Raeesah to Singh, Lim and Faisal Manap on Oct. 7 at 5:07pm. He read out the email:

"Dear all, I've received this email from SPF asking me to, asking to continue the investigation and for me to come down for an interview. I've shared this with Jordan who's advising me, and he will share his views tonight. Please let me know what you'd like me to do, and I will share Jordan's thoughts on this matter, on the matter as well.

Thanks for listening to me, for caring for me, and for guiding me throughout, through this without judgement."

Tong added, "So, she's asking you for what you'd like her to do right?"

Singh said he had a WhatsApp communication with Raeesah about the email, which he was willing to tender to the Committee.

He said that he believed Raeesah made the same request, to want to talk about it, and Singh informed her that he will talk to her, and made some arrangements for some dates about it.

Tong then asked, "So let me try to understand why you advised her not to see the police but to see Parliament first. Okay. Is it because you felt that you didn't understand the full extent of the story yet?"

Singh said no.

Tong asked, "Is it because you felt that you weren't sure what she's going to say to the police?"

Singh said, "Absolutely not."

Tong asked, "Is it because you felt that with the police she had no privileges, whereas in Parliament, she had privileges?"

Singh said that question had some bearing on where he felt what the appropriate forum would be to address the matter.

Screenshot from Gov.sg YouTube.

"Driving the process" after Raeesah repeated the lie

Tong then contended that the decision was "taken out of Raeesah's hands" after Oct. 4. Tong and Singh agreed that Singh formed the view that he would have to control the process and drive it from the moment Raeesah lied again in Parliament.

After a brief exchange, Tong then asked, "If that's the case, I struggle to understand why Ms Khan was not advised by you to explain her position to the police, despite being asked not once, twice, but three times. Three times by the police. And in your view, a not-unreasonable request."

Tong said "from his memory", the three requests occurred on Oct. 7, 15 and 18.

Singh said that he did tell her to reply to the police and let them know that she will address the issue in Parliament.

According to a CNA article from Oct. 20, in response to their queries, "Ms Khan said in an email that as the issue relates to a speech she made in Parliament, she will make a statement on the matter at the next sitting of Parliament on Nov 1, subject to the Speaker of Parliament’s approval."

Why didn't Raeesah respond on Oct. 7? : Tong

However, Tong asked why the police had to make more than one request. "Why was that response not given on the seventh of October?"

Singh said the matter did come up, but his focus, "more importantly" was for her to come out and tell the truth. He added that he was not sure at what point exactly where he communicated to Raeesah to reply to the police and say that she would address this in Parliament.

Tong then said he would be "direct and blunt", and asked:

"I suggest to you that on the seventh of October, you did not advise Ms Khan to see the police, or advise Ms Khan to reply to the police, in any shape or form, because you were yourself not clear at that stage that this matter would be clarified in Parliament."

Singh said that he "completely" disagreed.

No evidence as of Oct. 7 to show that Singh was preparing for Raeesah to clarify the statement in Parliament: Tong

Tong continued and said there is no contemporaneous evidence as of Oct. 7 which suggests that Singh was taking steps to prepare for Ms Khan to clarify this statement in Parliament.

Singh agreed, and said there was no communication between them after Oct. 4, apart from the email she sent about the police request.

He added, "And thereafter, it was about me arranging with her to actually talk to her about a statement. So that meeting I initiated, and that was on the 12th of October, where she said she wasn't prepared to come forward. And that was not acceptable to us."

Tong contended that Singh was in "constant communication" with Raeesah, to which Singh said he was referring to the issue of Raeesah's lie, and she did not refer to that until their meeting on Oct. 12.

Tong contended that because no steps were taken to prepare as of Oct. 7, that was the reason why Singh felt that Raeesah could not speak to the police.

Singh disagreed, and said that the fact the police had put in a request was "completely separate" from the point that she had to go to Parliament and tell the truth.

He added that whether the police had written to her or not, she would have told the truth on the first of November.

Separation of powers

Tong then asked again that while there may be multiple forums, there's only one truth and one answer.

Singh replied that there's also separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judiciary, and in his judgement, Raeesah had to correct the lie in Parliament.

After a brief exchange, Tong asked, "So what's wrong with being open and transparent to the police? What do you have to hide?"

Singh replied that a Member of Parliament has freedom of speech in the House, which means something, "especially to an opposition MP." However, while an MP is free to say what they want, they should also be free to be scrutinised for what they say in Parliament and appear before a Committee because as an institution, it has its own procedures to deal with what happens in it.

Tong said that Singh was just "drawing lines", while Singh said "those are important lines."

After a drawn-out exchange with repeated questions of a similar nature, Tong said:

"And so you would disagree with my suggestion that you would not, that you told her not to go to the police because by that time, meaning seventh October, there was no consensus that she would come and clarify her lie in Parliament."

Singh replied, "Disagree."

You can watch this section of the proceedings from 1:38:50 onwards:

Top image from Gov.sg YouTube.

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