Was it left to Raeesah Khan to decide whether to come clean? Sylvia Lim recounts Oct. 3 conversation between Pritam Singh & Raeesah

Lim also took notes of other points raised in the WP disciplinary panel interviews with Raeesah, including why she did not substantiate her false anecdote.

Sulaiman Daud | December 15, 2021, 12:43 PM

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Workers' Party chair Sylvia Lim took down contemporaneous notes during the disciplinary panel interviews with former Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan, which occurred on Nov. 8 and Nov. 29.

The notes also recorded the exchange between Raeesah and Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh on Oct. 3, when Singh visited Raeesah's house.

This meeting was discussed at length by Minister Edwin Tong and Singh during Singh's hearing on Dec. 10.

During her testimony, Raeesah said that she interpreted Singh's words to mean that she should continue with the lie, and there would be no consequences for her.

Singh disagreed with this, said that Raeesah was lying, and elaborated that he told her to 'take responsibility', and he would not judge her for that.

Lim was not present at that meeting, but it cropped up during the Nov. 29 interview.

Exchange on Oct. 3 meeting between Pritam & Raeesah

Referring to her notes, Lim said:

"And the question was put to her by Mr Singh, as follows, he says, 'Before the October session, I met you and I told you that it was your call, did the need to tell the truth in Parliament occur to you?

And her response was, 'Yes. But I was consumed with guilt and my own experience, and I thought that it wouldn't come up.'

That's her response. She was consumed with guilt and her own experience that she thought that it wouldn't come up.

And Mr Singh says to her, 'You can't lie, right?' And then she says, 'Yes'.

So I mean, as far as the third of October meeting, I was not there. But that was her response to the disciplinary panel when asked why she didn't tell the truth before the October setting.

She said she was consumed with guilt and own experience."

Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin interjects

At this point, the chair of the Committee of Privileges, Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin, spoke up and commented on Singh's statement that it was Raeesah's call.

"So meaning that it was really up to her to decide what to do," Tan said.

Lim replied that she didn't know the context, but Singh phrased it in this way.

Tan continued, "From this, it would seem to be that it's really for her to decide, which I guess -"

Lim said, "She has to decide, ya."

Tan continued, "If you follow from this, when he said that 'I will not judge you', is that 'you decide what you want to do, I will not judge you for that'. Would that be a fair interpretation?"

Tan noted that Lim wasn't present at the Oct. 3 meeting, but said, "I'm saying that as from what he recounted here, as you recorded, and what we know now of what would have been said specifically, this would be a reasonable interpretation of it?"

WP's Dennis Tan interjects

At this point Dennis Tan (WP MP for Hougang) spoke up, and said, "Chairman, chairman. I think it would be fair to put to her that that line comes from which witness, because there's differing..."

Tan said, "That line came from Mr Pritam Singh himself, who said to take ownership and responsibility, I will not judge you...so I'm just asking based on what Mr Pritam Singh has shared, and given what he said now here, would that be a reasonable interpretation that it was really left to her to decide?"

Whole context has to be looked at: Sylvia Lim

Lim said she didn't know what Singh said, because she put herself on a "news blockout" for the past few days, but in any case, "it is recorded as it is recorded."

Tan then repeated, "Just to remind you, the specific line he said was to take ownership and responsibility, and I will not judge you. So these few lines came out, (came) across clearly as (to) what he conveyed. And I'm just asking you that based on what you've recounted here, it would suggest that the option was left to Ms Khan to decide."

Lim then responded:

"I think it also has to be looked at the whole context, because you know, what we recorded here was that 'I told you it was your call, did the need to tell the truth in Parliament occurred to you?' Then she says 'Yes. But I was consumed with guilt and own experience, and I thought it wouldn't come up.'

Now, of course...she's not saying here, 'You gave me a choice. So I made that choice.' She says, 'I was consumed with guilt and own experience and I thought it wouldn't come up.'

And he says, 'But you can't lie. Right?' And she says yes. So it (will) be taken, I think in totality to understand. Like I said, I wasn't there, but this is what I recorded."

Other points from Lim's notes during the disciplinary panel interviews

During the Nov. 8 interview, Lim said the panel started off by asking questions about how the untruth came to be in the speech in the first place.

Did not "process" Singh's comment on her draft to substantiate anecdote

Singh put to Raeesah that he had written on the draft that she needed to substantiate that paragraph. Lim then described Raeesah's response:

"And she, she said her response was that she did not process the gravity of that. And she thought that it was enough that she believed that the anecdote was true."

Raeesah was then asked about the part about following the victim to the police station, and she replied that she did not process it properly.

Lim said Raeesah basically ignored or was not able to appreciate Singh's advice, and continued anyway, and this was something of concern to the leadership as it may happen again in the future.

Impostor Syndrome

The leadership also noted that Raeesah said because of her age, she has Impostor Syndrome, and she will not speak unless she is "very sure" of something.

Lim said that they noted that she was trying to "attribute her actions to her age."

Therapist report

Lim also noted that Raeesah has some psychological needs, and it was important for her to address those issues. The panel asked what she had been doing in this regard.

The panel noted that the documents Raeesah submitted were of a therapist she had seen in Oct. 2021, and asked about therapists she saw prior to that. Lim added:

"So our question was, what about the therapists that you saw prior to that, why are they not producing reports, and it's only this most recent one that's producing a report to say that she's (showing) symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)."


Lim also referred to her notes of the panel's interview with Raeesah on Nov. 29 to claim that Raeesah said she had added the untruthful anecdote as she was "dissociated".

"First of all throughout this interview she was crying most of the time. I can imagine she's under a lot of stress, but this was the fact.

She started to...she called for the meeting actually, the second meeting. So she tried to talk about the work that she had been doing, as an MP on the ground and so on. And if you look at the second page, I mean, we, the committee actually wanted to come back to the main issue, and therefore that's why on the second page we asked her, near the top there, why was she bringing all this up. And she said that she had to build her confidence and so on.

Ok so...after she finished what she wanted to tell us, we then went into clarifications again, to find out again more about the incident and what caused the incident on the third of August to happen.

So she said that she was asked, I mean the original draft, that she put up of that speech, which was I think two days before the Motion itself. That anecdote was not in the first draft. And her explanation was that she was dissociated, and she did not realise what she was doing, and she had gone for therapy.

So that was worrying to us because what she was basically saying, as far as we could understand it, was that she was doing things without thinking about what she was doing."

Australia, not Singapore

Lim then asked whether Raeesah has ever accompanied any victims to the police in Singapore -- a part which Lim had found unclear.

Raeesah replied that she didn't go with them inside, but she dropped them off. Then she added that these were her friends, and it didn't happen in Singapore, but in Australia.

Lim added, "So we were trying to grapple with, really, what was the truth? As far as this whole episode was concerned, we were very unclear."

You can watch Lim's description of the disciplinary panel meetings in the video below:

Top image from Gov.sg

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