Pritam Singh wrote 'Substantiate?' on sexual assault victim anecdote but Raeesah Khan didn't understand

She added the anecdote into her speech just one day before Parliament sitting on Aug. 3.

Belmont Lay | December 04, 2021, 07:00 PM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates:

Former Sengkang GRC MP Raeesah Khan gave evidence to the parliamentary Committee of Privileges with other Workers' Party members over Dec. 2 and 3, 2021.

This was after she was found to have lied in Parliament about accompanying a sexual assault victim to make a police report.

Raeesah's testimony to the committee provided some insight into how her now proven false anecdote even made it into her eventual speech she delivered in Parliament on Aug. 3.

Late in following procedure to have speech vetted

Raeesah said in her testimony that the Workers' Party's procedure was to submit speeches to be delivered to an internal portal accessible to all its current MPs one week ahead of a Parliament sitting.

MPs can vet one another's speeches and leave comments.

Raeesah's admission to the committee was that she submitted her speech late, which was for the Aug. 3 debate on empowering women.

She had only uploaded a draft two days before the sitting.

Draft did not contain anecdote at first

Moreover, the initial draft did not contain the anecdote about her accompanying the survivor to a police station to make a report.

This detail was only added in just a day before the sitting.

Failed to understand what Singh asked her to substantiate

Raeesah's testimony also said Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh commented on the draft and pointed out the sexual assault victim anecdote.

The leader of the party had even circled the anecdote and wrote, "Substantiate?".

However, according to Raeesah, she did not understand what he meant at that time and did not reply to the comment.

After she delivered the speech on Aug. 3, Raeesah said Singh subsequently expressed disappointment with the fact that she failed to understand his comment or placed importance on it.

Here is Raeesah's exchange with Edwin Tong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth.

Edwin Tong: Mr Daniel Goh had put up a post in the aftermath of what happened. And he said that speeches between Workers' Party MPs were generally reviewed by each other before they were delivered, and use the words "collective consensus" on these speeches.

Is that something that you are familiar with? Was it practised and, in particular, was it practised in connection with what was delivered by you on Aug. 3?

Raeesah Khan: Yes.

Edwin Tong: So the speeches were reviewed, prior to it being delivered on Aug. 3?

Raeesah Khan: Yes, but I made some mistakes in that regard as well. I submitted the speeches late.

Edwin Tong: What do you mean by late? What juncture?

Raeesah Khan: Two days before the sitting in August.

Edwin Tong: What kind of timeframe are you supposed to comply with?

Raeesah Khan: I think it is a week.

Edwin Tong: So the rule is that you must submit your speeches a week before the sitting? And this will be submitted to who?

Raeesah Khan: We submit it through a portal that everyone has access to.

Edwin Tong: So who are the people who have access to this portal?

Raeesah Khan: All the sitting MPs.

Edwin Tong: And generally, I'm not talking about Aug. 3 in particular, generally, what's the process? How do you vet? How do you give comments? How do you give suggestions? What happens?

Raeesah Khan: Basically, you can read any speech that's on the portal and you can give comments.

Edwin Tong: And do members regularly do?

Raeesah Khan: Yes.

Edwin Tong: Quite actively?

Raeesah Khan: I wouldn't say actively because I know many MPs are busy.

Edwin Tong: But that's the purposes for which you set up a portal and the rule is seven days before and you cross review each other's speeches.

Raeesah Khan: Yes.

Edwin Tong: In this case, the Aug. 3 speech was filed to support a motion moved jointly by Ms. He Ting Ru and Mr. Leon Perera. Did you discuss it with them beforehand? Given that it is their motion?

Raeesah Khan: All of us discuss this, the topics that we will be speaking about and we were in agreement with the topics we would be...

Edwin Tong: ... broad topics?

Raeesah Khan: Yes.

Edwin Tong: Did you discuss with them your specific anecdote?

Raeesah Khan: No, I did not.

Edwin Tong: By the time you submitted the speech in draft, albeit late, it was still two days before, which actually in many cases is not late -- did the paragraph on the anecdote already appear in the speech?

Raeesah Khan: It was inserted, I think a day before.

Edwin Tong: A day before it was put into the portal?

Raeesah Khan: Yes.

Edwin Tong: So by the time he was...

Raeesah Khan: Sorry, no. I mean, I uploaded the speech, and then I added the anecdote a day before.

Edwin Tong: So it would have been available on the portal at least a day before it was delivered.

Raeesah Khan: Yes.

Edwin Tong: Were there any comments or reviews to your speech?

Raeesah Khan: Yes, there was one comment from Pritam Singh. And he asked and he circled the anecdote. And he put substantiate, question, mark.

Edwin Tong: And what was your answer to that?

Raeesah Khan: At that point in time, I did not understand what that meant. But upon reflection, I understand now why he circled it and why he said what he said.

Edwin Tong: So did you reply to the comment?

Raeesah Khan: No, I did not read it.

Edwin Tong: Did Mr. Singh raise this as an issue after the speech was delivered on Aug. 3?

Raeesah Khan: Yes, he did.

Edwin Tong: What did he say?

Raeesah Khan: His comment was that he expressed disappointment in the fact that I did not understand or I did not place importance in why he included the comment that he made.

Follow and listen to our podcast here