Singapore police probing Workers’ Party MP’s claim that officers made insensitive remarks to rape victim, says minister

Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said the police are investigating an incident MP Raeesah Khan raised in Parliament two months ago but they need more details from her to help with their investigations. — Parliament screengrab via TODAY
Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said the police are investigating an incident MP Raeesah Khan raised in Parliament two months ago but they need more details from her to help with their investigations. — Parliament screengrab via TODAY

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SINGAPORE, Oct 4 — The police will be interviewing Workers’ Party Member of Parliament (MP) Raeesah Khan to gather more information over an alleged incident that she raised in Parliament two months ago about a rape victim, who according to her, came out crying from a police station after officers made insensitive remarks.

During an exchange in Parliament today, which interrupted the normal flow of proceedings, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that Raeesah’s allegations were serious and investigations were being conducted to find out what happened, but that the police needed more details to do so. 

On August 3, fellow WP MPs He Ting Ru and Leon Perera raised a private member’s motion on empowering women, and several members of WP, including Raeesah, made suggestions in their speeches. 

As part of her wider point that police officers should be equipped with sexual violence training to handle sexual assault cases, Raeesah shared how a rape victim she accompanied to the police station to make a report came out crying because of the officer’s comments about her dressing and the fact that she was drinking. 

During that debate, Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan asked Raeesah, who is MP for Sengkang Group Representation Constituency, for details of the case, adding that the government takes any claims of how the police might have mishandled a case seriously and would investigate the matter.

Raeesah responded that the incident happened three years ago and she did not want the victim to be traumatised again. 

Today, Shanmugam again asked Raeesah for details of the incident which happened three years ago, but she declined, citing confidentiality concerns. 

Shanmugam pointed out that investigating the case and disciplining the police officers involved, if necessary, would not mean that the victim’s identity would be revealed. 

He asked Raeesah if she could at least provide the police station she accompanied the victim to, the month she did so and, if possible, the names of the police officers that attended to the case. If not, a rough description of their gender and race would also suffice. 

“The government is very serious about making sure that the police do the right thing. So if they haven’t behaved well, then we must discipline them. That means investigating what happened, identifying the office involved, that’s how we have maintained an excellent home team,” he said. 

In response, Raeesah said that she prefers to maintain confidentiality of the victim and would not like to reveal any information that Shanmugam requested. 

Shanmugam then said that revealing the police station had no bearing on the confidentiality of the victim and then asked if Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin had the power to direct answers from her. 

Raeesah declined Mr Tan’s request for details — again, citing confidentiality. 

To this, Shanmugam said he did not understand her point about confidentiality and asked her to confirm again whether her account she gave earlier is accurate, to which she confirmed that the incident did happen. 

In response to this, he said the police had checked its records and that there are no cases that fit Raeesah’s description. 

“Confidentiality does not extend to not telling us which police station. And I will leave it here, for now. But that does not mean the matter rests,” said Shanmugam. 

“At the very least, she must remember which police station, which year this happened and which month and some details of the number, and the ages and the races of the police officers.” — TODAY

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