WP leaders gave Raeesah time to deal with issue

Leaders of the Workers' Party (WP) were told by their MP Raeesah Khan that she had lied in Parliament, about a week after she made false statements about a sexual assault case in a speech on Aug 3.

But the party leaders decided to give her time to deal with the matter because she had also told them she had been a sexual assault victim herself and had not told her family about it, WP chief Pritam Singh said on Thursday.

At the next session of Parliament that she was able to attend, in October, Ms Khan was supposed to clarify the matter.

But she did not and, in fact, repeated untruths that were wholly inconsistent with the revelations she had shared with the WP leaders - Mr Singh, chair Sylvia Lim and vice-chair Faisal Manap.

Speaking at a press conference two days after the WP announced Ms Khan's resignation from the party and as an MP, Mr Singh said he had asked her to make her best efforts to contact the victim or to contact the individuals involved in the sexual assault case.

"Initially, Raeesah stuck to her untruth in her communication with me," said Mr Singh at the press conference at the WP headquarters in Geylang.

"After being repeatedly pressed, a number of new facts and disturbing personal revelations were disclosed. These concerned Raeesah's sexual assault, an event which was unknown to the party leadership at that time, and other related matters of a deeply personal nature."

He was immediately concerned about the fact that Ms Khan's own family was not aware of her sexual assault, which had traumatised her.

It was important for the family to be told about this before Ms Khan could fully address the reasons behind her untruthful conduct in Parliament, he added.

"In view of her sexual assault and my assessment of the scale of her state of mind, I was prepared to give her the space necessary to address the matter with her loved ones," he said.

Mr Singh, who is Leader of the Opposition, added that after her admission to the WP leaders, Ms Khan came down with a case of shingles and could not attend the Parliament sitting in September.

But it was nonetheless made known to her before the sitting in October that any parliamentary clarification of this matter was supposed to be in her capacity as an elected MP, said Mr Singh.

He added that WP leaders "voted overwhelmingly" to ask Ms Khan to resign even before she decided to do so.

He added that she would have been expelled from the party if she had failed to step down.

Ms Khan was voted into Parliament in the July 2020 General Election as part of the four-member WP team contesting Sengkang GRC.

Her resignation means that Sengkang GRC will now have three MPs: Ms He, Prof Lim and Mr Chua.

Ms Lim, the party chairman, said there will not be a by-election in Sengkang GRC as the constituency's three remaining MPs will continue to serve for the remainder of the term.

The Straits Times

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