SINGAPORE, Nov 3 — Raeesah Khan of the Workers’ Party should not resign but take responsibility for the “grave transgression” she made of misleading Parliament about a sexual assault case, said the party’s former central executive committee (CEC) member Daniel Goh.
He also urged the party’s disciplinary panel, which is looking into her admission of lying in Parliament, not to “throw her under the bus”. Instead, he said the party’s leadership should take some responsibility for “allowing this transgression to happen and persist over several months”.
Associate Professor Goh, who has retired from politics but remains a WP cadre member, said in a Facebook post today that “resigning will be too easy” and such a move will mean walking away from her responsibilities.
“I believe she should serve out her elected term, going 100 per cent into serving communities, families and individuals quietly, no social media posting or posturing, so that the focus is on those she served and not herself,” said the former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament.
In August, Khan — who is a member of the Sengkang Group Representation Constituency where she oversees the Compassvale ward — made a claim in Parliament that she had accompanied a sexual assault survivor to a police station, where the victim was treated insensitively.
On Monday, Khan admitted in Parliament that she had misled the House, and that she had in fact heard the account from a sexual abuse survivor during a meeting of a women’s support group.
The WP has since formed a disciplinary panel to look into the admission, and Leader of the House Indranee Rajah has referred Raeesah’s conduct to Parliament’s privileges committee, which looks into any complaint alleging breaches of parliamentary privilege.
Assoc Prof Goh said the debacle had affected him “badly”.
“It has shaken my trust in the party, to which I gave almost 10 good years to help build up, and to which I still belong as a cadre member. I can’t believe that a WP MP blatantly lied multiple times in Parliament,” he said.
Assoc Prof Goh said the incident is not just an account of untruths, but is far more serious and damaging not just to the credibility of the WP, but to the evolution of the nation’s political system.
Moreover, he said it affected the credibility of the very issue of the motion she spoke in support of: The empowerment of women.
“This is an issue I’ve spoken on several times in my time in Parliament and I hold it dearly close to my heart. I hope we will not forget what has been said and pushed for at that debate on the important motion,” he said.
“I was incredibly proud of WP for raising and pushing for the motion. Don’t let Raeesah’s transgression taint this important issue please.”
He added that her statement was not made on impulse. Based on his experience, he said speeches are shared and reviewed among MPs and there might be disagreements and debates about it.
“But we would make corrections or drop things entirely according to the collective consensus,” he said.
If a mistake is made, he said the party members would immediately move to rectify it.
“I hope the disciplinary panel made up of the top three leaders will recognise their responsibility in this matter and accountability to the public on this matter,” he said.
Committee of privileges
Separately, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong, and Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Health Rahayu Mahzam have been nominated to join a Committee of Privileges to investigate Khan.
The nominations were made yesterday and the appointments were announced to the House by Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin today.
Both Tong and Rahayu will be replacing Minister for Home Affairs of Singapore K Shanmugam and Indranee.
Indranee said yesterday she and Shanmugam would recuse themselves as she had made the complaint, while his ministry was involved. — TODAY