On Feb. 10, the Committee of Privileges (COP) presented its report to Parliament regarding the lie made by former Workers' Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan.
It suggested that WP leaders Pritam Singh and Muhamad Faisal bin Abdul Manap be referred to the Public Prosecutor.
Singh is the party's Secretary-General while Faisal is the party's Vice-Chair. Both men are MPs for Aljunied GRC.
As for WP leader Sylvia Lim, the report suggested that any appropriate sanctions be deferred until after the conclusion of investigations against Singh.
Why are Singh and Faisal being referred to the Public Prosecutor?
The report concluded at paragraph 233 that Singh, based on evidence, had lied on affirmation.
This means Parliament can impose sanctions on Singh based on their findings, but given the seriousness of the matter, it appeared best to the Committee that the issue be dealt with through a trial process, rather than just Parliament alone.
The report explained:
"The Public Prosecutor will have the opportunity to consider all the evidence afresh, and also consider any evidence that this Committee may not have considered, (for example, if such evidence has not been presented to this Committee, but emerges subsequently) before deciding whether criminal charges should be brought against Mr Singh."
In addition, Singh will also have the opportunity defend and vindicate himself, with legal counsel, if criminal charges are brought.
A court can also look at the matter afresh, and consider any further evidence that may emerge, and decide whether any charge has been proven, or not proven, beyond reasonable doubt.
As for Faisal, the report noted that he had said he met both Singh and Lim on Dec. 7 and 8, for two to three hours, two days prior to him giving evidence for the Committee.
"When asked about these meetings, and the material which Mr Singh and Ms Lim brought along to the meetings, Mr Faisal informed the Committee four times, that he would not answer the question.
He refused to answer, despite being reminded that he had been called before the Committee to assist with its investigations, which the documents may shed light on."
The Committee then told Faisal that a refusal to answer their questions would amount to an offence and constitute contempt of Parliament.
Despite this, Faisal confirmed that the Committee should place on record that he was refusing to answer that question.
He also repeated four more times that he would not be answering the question.
What happens next?
Unlike a court judgment, which can be appealed to a higher court, whatever the COP comes out with cannot be appealed.
Instead, it is up to Parliament to decide whether the COP's findings and recommendations are to be accepted.
At a future Parliament sitting, the Leader of the House puts forward a motion in Parliament on the matter of the COP's report and recommendations.
Before the matter is put to a vote, MPs can then rise to speak in support, or dissent.
On Aug. 3, Raeesah gave a speech, saying that she accompanied a 25-year-old rape survivor to make a police report three years ago. She said the survivor emerged from the police station crying as an officer had allegedly made comments about her dressing and the fact that she had been drinking.
Raeesah was subsequently pressed by Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam on Oct. 4 to divulge more information pertaining to the claim, and police later stated that they could not identify such a case or the officers allegedly involved.
In a speech in Parliament on Nov. 1, Raeesah admitted that she had not been present with the woman whose anecdote she had shared, and rather had heard the survivor share it in a women's support group of which Raeesah herself had been a part.
Leader of the House Indranee Rajah raised a complaint with Parliament's Committee of Privileges, who conducted a series of hearings with Raeesah, members of the Workers' Party, and others in Dec. 2021.
The various Special Reports from those hearings, and links to the relevant videos for full context, can be found at this site.
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