Parliament responds to WP's Sylvia Lim's claims on COP hearings, witnesses did not need permission to visit washroom

The Office of the Clerk of Parliament noted that her speech in the Feb. 15 debate was the first time that Lim had expressed her concerns. 

Zhangxin Zheng | February 16, 2022, 09:16 PM

Follow us on Telegram for the latest updates:

Workers' Party chairman and Member of Parliament (MP) Sylvia Lim described her experience at the Committee of Privileges (COP) hearing during the Feb. 15 debate in Parliament on the Motions on the COP Report.

Towards the end of Lim's speech, she mentioned that she "waited for two days in a guarded room" where she was "denied the use of communication devices" during the COP hearing.

"When I needed to visit the bathroom. I was accompanied by security. When I requested to use the disabled toilet to have more space, permission was sought."

"Doesn't all this border on oppressive?" she asked in Parliament yesterday.

Standard protocols

In response, the Office of the Clerk of Parliament clarified the context for standard protocols that applied for all witnesses involved in the COP hearings, including Lim.

The Office of the Clerk of Parliament said that all witnesses were "advised" not to have communication devices and other electronic equipment with them until they have completed their testimonies "to protect them against perceptions of undue influence".

According to the press release from the Office:

  • They individually waited in assigned rooms where they could be physically reached when it was their turn.
  • The witnesses were also provided with reading materials, meals and drinks for their comfort and convenience.
  • Every witness also had an attending Parliament officer who could immediately respond to any requests or queries.

No permission required to visit the toilet

The Office also clarified Lim's point on seeking permission to visit the toilet during the hearing:

"At no time was permission needed for witnesses to use the toilet, they could make their own way there whenever they wanted," the press release stated.

The Office added that Lim had specifically asked the Parliament officer with her for the nearest toilet for people with disabilities to freshen up with more space and privacy.

Before showing Lim the way, the officer had verbally informed a supervisor on their movement in case the COP called up on Lim while she was at the toilet.

"It was unfortunate that Ms Lim had misunderstood the officer’s routine status update," the Office of the Clerk of Parliament said in response to Lim's anecdote in Parliament yesterday.

First time that Lim raised these concerns

The Office of the Clerk of Parliament also noted that it was the first time that Lim had expressed her concerns yesterday.

Any concerns and feedback made known to the COP by witnesses would have been immediately addressed, the press release added.

The Office affirms that all protocols are carried out to balance witnesses’ well-being with the due process.

Top image via and by Jeanette Tan

Follow and listen to our podcast here