Allegations at Parliament committee hearing rock WP members, party leaders say they will respond

SINGAPORE – A day after revelations at a Parliament committee hearing rocked the Workers’ Party (WP), lines were drawn among party members, with views divided on the culpability of WP leaders in the saga involving former Sengkang GRC MP Raeesah Khan.

Right after the Committee of Privileges released a special report and nine hours of video recordings over two days of its sessions with Ms Khan and WP members, former Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh took to Facebook to express anguish and anger at the developments.

The committee heard from Ms Khan, her former secretarial assistant Loh Pei Ying, and party member Yudhishthra Nathan on Thursday (Dec 2) and Friday (Dec 3) that WP chief Pritam Singh, party chair Sylvia Lim and party vice-chair Faisal Manap had known early on about Ms Khan’s lie in Parliament on Aug 3 about having accompanied a rape victim to make a police report.

But contrary to what the party had said at a press conference on Thursday, that Ms Khan had been pressed to confess, the trio who gave evidence before the committee said party leaders had asked Ms Khan to continue with the lie.

Associate Professor Goh, who declined to comment for this article, said on Facebook on Friday that “my political party imploding with an own goal that keeps scoring” and this had kept him awake.

On Friday night, he said: “I have been crying for the past hour seeing two of our best members, super dedicated young persons who gave so much to the party without any benefit, completely terrified but so incredibly incredibly brave in speaking the truth in front of the (Committee of Privileges).”

He was referring to Ms Loh and Mr Nathan, both long-time WP members who started volunteering for the party in their youth and have featured prominently in party activities.

Prof Goh had been openly critical of how the party’s leaders had handled the matter, earning him a public rebuke from Mr Singh at the press conference.

On Saturday, more WP members, typically reticent and wary of openly criticising the party, joined him in expressing disappointment with party leaders, with some privately hoping that former party leader Low Thia Khiang would come back to lead.

But other party members and volunteers had also questioned the credibility of Ms Khan, whom they pointed out had lied several times in Parliament.

Besides, the party’s leaders had not yet given their testimony at the committee’s hearings, they said.

In a Facebook post, former Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong posted an abstract painting by his wife which he called Rising Above The Storm, and said: “There may be dark clouds and storms but the sun will rise again.”

He added: “In any case, I prefer to wait and listen to different sides of a story before jumping to any conclusions. The sitting is not over but there seems to be a rush to publish as if all that is to be said is out already.”

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The committee had released a special report late on Friday night, and the Clerk of Parliament said it was based on oral evidence it had heard over the first two days of hearings.

Under Parliament’s standing orders, the committee can – at any time during its proceedings – make a special report on any matter it thinks fit to bring to Parliament’s notice, the clerk pointed out.

The report included a summary of evidence heard by the committee, which is chaired by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin.

The Clerk of Parliament said the committee will continue to investigate the compliant and hear further evidence, with its meeting adjourned till tomorrow.

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The release of the special report led some to question the committee’s motive, with some saying it should have released the report only when it had heard from both sides. A vote was taken before the special report was released, and the committee had voted seven to one, with only WP Hougang MP Dennis Tan voting against it.

Mr Tan also voted against the release of the video recordings.

For now, the WP has remained silent, except for a short SMS that was blasted out to members in English and Mandarin, saying: “The party would like to assure all of you that the allegations made at the Parliament Committee of Privileges will be responded to in due course.”

The party’s leaders and remaining three Sengkang GRC MPs have not responded to requests for comments.

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