The chairman of the Worker's Party (WP), Sylvia Lim, has testified before the Committee of Privileges (COP) on how she was "very frustrated" when former Sengkang GRC MP Raeesah Khan repeated her lie in Parliament, on Oct. 4, during an exchange with Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam.
When asked why she was feeling frustrated by committee member Edwin Tong, Lim replied:
"It didn't appear that any progress had been made in moving towards correcting the record and in fact, at that exchange, there was a doubling down on the untruth."
Lim: It is not believable that Raeesah was asked to lie or given the choice to lie
Lim also said that she did not know at that time, what WP Secretary-General Pritam Singh had discussed with Raeesah in terms of what to do if the matter were to arise in Parliament.
When Tong asked Lim if the answer given by Raeesah in Oct. 4 could have been consistent with directions that might have been provided by Singh, Lim replied, "I would find that unbelievable."
When Tong then asked, "You would not have prior knowledge of what the game plan would be, so to say?" Lim answered, "I will not be able to believe that Pritam had asked her to lie or gave her a choice to lie. That was definitely not our understanding of what should be done."
Arranged to meet with Raeesah following the exchange with Shanmugam
Lim added that about an hour after the exchange, she messaged Raeesah to arrange for a meeting in the office of the Leader of the Opposition later in the afternoon.
Lim elaborated that she had two reasons in arranging the meeting: first, to ascertain Raeesah’s emotional state after the exchange with Shanmugam, and second, for Raeesah to respond in Parliament as Parliament is the "proper authority" to handle issues with MP's statements, and to suggest that Raeesah seek legal advice on any potential request by the police for assistance.
Lim further noted that Raeesah seemed "highly stressed" during their meeting and was "not in a good place".
The WP chairman also confirmed that this was the first time, since the Aug. 8 meeting, that she spoke with anyone concerning the lie that Raeesah had told to Parliament.
Lim also said that she did not ask Raeesah why she repeated her untruth.
This brought up the following question from Tong, "Were you not concerned about that (repeating the untruth)?"
In response, Lim said:
"Of course there would be concern, but at the same time...I mean the fact is, I didn't shout at her to ask her why she lied again or what Mr Singh had told her, because never in my mind would I expect Mr Singh to tell her to double down on the lie, so that was not a consideration."
Lim further agreed that it was important for the steps to be taken to correct the Parliamentary record, and understood the need to move quickly.
She said it was a matter of judgment as to when the best and earliest possible time was.
However, clarifying the untruth on Oct. 5 was not practical
This brought up Tong's next question as to whether it would have been an option for Raeesah to clarify her lie in Parliament at the Oct. 5 sitting.
Here, Lim answered:
"I think theoretically, yes, it's an option. But practically, I don't think it's an option. Because such a matter where she to come to explain how she came to tell the untruth, and in her mind she has to talk about her past experience, and also the fact that she repeated it on the fourth; it would require careful structuring — her drafting — and that to make sure that she's very emotionally stable and comfortable with her statement of clarification."
Lim also cited happened the events of Aug. 3 when Raeesah first told the lie in Parliament, in which Singh drafted a clarification for the former Sengkang GRC MP, which "further told" the lie, as it had been based on untrue information provided by Raeesah.
This was a reminder of how things had to be done with "due deliberation", she said.
With regard to the meeting Lim had with both Singh and Raeesah on Oct. 4, after 11pm, Lim said that when Singh asked her what she planned to do about the matter, Raeesah replied that honesty was another path.
Lim added, "I wasn't quite sure what to make of it because, you know, she had just chosen another path earlier in the day. So I was just listening to her uttering that statement and I didn't know what to make of it really."
Lim also added that she did not have any separate discussions with Singh on the issue on Oct. 4.
Oct. 12 meeting: Raeesah showed some reluctance to correct the record
Subsequently on Oct. 12, Raeesah met Lim and Singh at Singh's house.
During the meeting, Lim "concluded somehow" that Raeesah has not told her parents about the sexual assault, she recalled.
Lim highlighted that there was some reluctance by Raeesah in correcting the record.
"He (Singh) started off the meeting by asking her, 'So what are you going to do about this?' And then she said, 'I still don't think I want to tell the truth.'
So at that point, I got angry and I think Pritam was also angry, and we told her that this correction has to be made.
And we tried to persuade her by saying, 'If you do not make the correction, this is going to weigh on you for the rest of your life, and it will be too much of a burden for anyone to bear. You need to correct this so that everyone is clear and we can move on from there.'"
Raeesah then agreed, after some discussion, that this would be the best thing to do.
In addition, prior to the meeting, on Oct. 7, Raeesah also received a request from the police for an interview.
On this matter, Lim said that she told Raeesah it was fine to leave the request, as she was going to clarify the matter in Parliament, and her clarification would be retracting her original anecdote.
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