Why The Word ‘Substantiate’ Has Gone Viral in S’pore


When former Worker’s Party (WP) member Raeesah Khan opened her proverbial bag of 25 cats in parliament on Friday (3 Dec) and let them out, it’s safe to say that they caught most residents off guard.

Among other things, she claimed that WP had not only known that her parliamentary anecdote about accompanying a rape victim to the police station was untrue, but that senior members advised her to continue with the lie.

One of the revelations that escaped the public’s attention at first is that at least one WP member – chief Pritam Singh – had read Khan’s speech before she delivered it in parliament.

And he had had just one thing to say: “substantiate?”

WP Chief Asked Khan to Substantiate Anecdote, Khan Said She Didn’t Know What That Meant

During her testimony, Khan detailed the procedure of the party’s vetting process for speeches and explained how hers had made its way to parliament, despite the untruth it contained.

According to Khan, WP MPs have to submit their speeches at least one week before a parliamentary session to an online internal portal that was accessible to all its MPs.

On this portal, MPs can vet speeches and leave comments if necessary.

However, Khan said she uploaded the speech late – two days before she was due to deliver it in parliament.

What’s more, she had left out the anecdote about accompanying a rape victim to a police station, and only added it in just a day before the parliamentary session.

Secretary-general Singh managed to go through it, though, and left one comment. He circled Khan’s anecdote and wrote: “Substantiate?”.

As you know, the word “substantiate” means to give support to a claim, or to provide evidence to prove something.

But Khan said she didn’t know what Singh meant. However, she didn’t reply to the comment, nor asked the party chief for a clarification.

Khan said that after her speech on 3 Aug, Singh expressed disappointment that she had not taken the comment seriously.

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Three Senior WP Members Allegedly Told her to Continue with the Narrative

Khan said that after her speech, she had met with Singh, WP chair Sylvia Lim, and WP vice-chair Faisal Manap.

At that meeting, she revealed that her anecdote about accompanying a sexual assault victim was untrue, and that there was no way she could substantiate her claims.

She claims she sought their guidance as they were seasoned politicians.


They allegedly advised Khan to continue with the narrative, meaning she should continue to lie.

While some party members have chided the WP’s leaders for their actions, others have questioned the credibility of Khan, noting that she has already lied several times in parliament.

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Featured Image: YouTube (CNA)