In today’s episode of the WP saga, let’s take a look at what Leader of the Opposition and secretary-general of the Workers’ Party (WP) Pritam Singh has to say about the Committee of Privileges (COP) findings.
For those who aren’t up to speed yet, a Parliament hearing was conducted today (15 February) to discuss the COP’s recommendations, which include:
- A $35,000 fine for Ms Raessah Khan due to three counts of abuse of privilege
- For Mr Pritam Singh to “be referred to the Public Prosecutor” for further investigations (so basically, be charged and possibly lose his seat in Parliament) for lying to Parliament
- For Mr Faisal Manap to “be referred to the Public Prosecutor” for further investigations as well, for refusing to answer questions in Parliament
The Parliament sitting today will end with MPs debating and thereafter voting based on the recommendations that the COP has set out.
We know you’re here because you don’t have time to watch the entire Parliament sitting live stream, so we’ve got it all summarised for you.
Was Raeesah Khan Told to “Take the Lie To the Grave”?
According to Pritam Singh, no.
Wow. What a shock.
Anyway, he basically said that the COP only focused on the (allegedly untrue) point that the WP leaders had told Ms Khan to take her lie to the grave.
“The fact that she had concocted the lie to bolster her anecdote in Parliament was not balanced against her evidence to the COP,” he said in support of his stand.
Calling it an “uncorroborated testimony”, he claimed that it was “a fabrication which never came out from any witness at the COP except Ms Raeesah Khan herself”.
“I reject these findings completely. At no time did I instruct Ms Khan to hide the truth. At the meeting on Aug 8, none of the three Workers’ Party leaders told Ms Khan to take a lie to the grave,” he concluded.
The COP’s Focus
Pritam Singh also criticised the COP’s focus in their report, saying that “the COP did not appear to want to get to the bottom of why Ms Khan lied in Parliament, nor why she had a propensity to lie with respect to her anecdote both in and out of this House.”
Instead, he believed that much of the focus was on the previous point: About how the WP leaders had (apparently, not) told Raeesah Khan to take her secret to the grave.
TL;DR: He thinks that the COP’s not getting a marksman badge for the points they focused on in their report lah.
WP’s “Lack of Documents”
Pertaining to how the COP mentioned that the WP leaders did not provide evidence and documents, Mr Singh rebutted by claiming that the three WP leaders involved all submitted them.
Thereafter, he also brought up the fact that he would like all the evidence that he and his party members had previously submitted to be returned to him “because that’s not in the Committee of Privileges’ report”.
Well, that was shady.
Regarding Future Candidate Selections
He also addressed the issue of selecting candidates for future political events.
(Probably since fielding Raeesah Khan turned out to be a…questionable decision at best.)
“I will confer with my colleagues with a view to finetune the processes in the Workers’ Party as best we can, taking into account the structural challenges we in the opposition face,” he announced.
“This would include the absolutely legitimate demands of Singaporeans that the Workers’ Party fields individuals who do not lower the esteem of Parliament or who do not meet the standards expected of Members of Parliament.”
So no Raeesah Khan 2.0 lah. That’s a relief to hear.
In the path to fielding members who actually meet MP standards, he promised to “endeavour to the best of [his] ability to ensure that our candidates are rational, responsible and respectable”.
He also mentioned that he would “take full responsibility” should any future candidate selections turn out to be wrong.
Rejection of COP Findings
OK, here’s the part we’ve all been waiting for.
After concluding the earlier parts of his speech, he announced that the WP leaders reject the COP findings.
He also added that WP opposes the reasons as to why the COP suggests that Raeesah Khan should be issued a lower quantum of fines for repeating the lie on 4 October. This is due to how the COP suggestions were “predicated on alleged guidance given to her by himself”.
“I am unable to accept the COP’s findings that offences have been committed under the Parliament Act by me or any other Workers’ Party MPs, therefore I will object to the second motion as the basis for the recommendations are that offences may have been committed by us,” he explained.
Just FYI, the second motion refers to the COP’s recommendation to refer Pritam Singh and Faisal Manap to the public prosecutor for “possible offences under the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act”.
So basically, he objects to the suggestion of him possibly being charged. I mean, it’s not rocket science as to why.
It also includes a request for “appropriate sanctions” to be deferred until the conclusion of investigations and any criminal proceedings against Singh.
He ended off by concluding, “Nevertheless, should Parliament resolve to adopt the motion, I intend to clear my name and will cooperate fully with the public prosecutor.”
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