Singapore — The Workers’ Party had an eventful day in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 15) as the House voted after a lengthy debate to refer WP chief and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh to the Public Prosecutor.
The House also voted in favor of the $35,000 in fines meted to former WP MP Raeesah Khan.
Parliament’s Committee of Privileges (COP), whose members are all from the People’s Action Party except for the lone representative from the Workers Party, Hougang MP\ Dennis Tan Lip Fong, decided that Mr Singh had lied under oath, and referred him to the Public Prosecutor for possible criminal charges.
Just before the vote was cast, Mr Singh said he did not object to the referral to the Public Prosecutor, adding that he would do everything in his power to clear his name.
A total of 10 MPs, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, spoke on this motion. Mr Lee told told the MPs to vote according to their conscience. Three WP MPs and two Nominated MPs, also spoke during the debate.
The COP was formed late last year after Ms Khan admitted lying in Parliament in August and October.
In the course of its investigations, it found that the WP leadership — Mr Singh, party chair Sylvia Lim, and vice-chair Faisal Manap — had committed serious misconduct.
The COP found Ms Khan guilty of abusing parliamentary privilege because of her falsehoods and recommended that she be fined $25,000 for the lies she told in August and another $10,000 for lying again in October.
It also recommended that Mr Singh and Mr Manap be referred to the Public Prosecutor to face possible criminal charges.
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Members of Parliament was asked to vote on two motions.
The first asked the House to agree with the COP’s findings that Ms Khan was guilty of abusing parliamentary privilege, as well on the recommended fines.
Mr Singh said that the WP could not support the motion because the second of the two fines imposed on Ms Khan was based on the premise, which was not correct, that the WP leadership had encouraged her to lie.
The Leader of the House, Ms Indranee Rajah, then proposed that MPs be allowed to vote on the different parts of the motion separately.
This motion was passed, with all WP MPs voting against the second part of the motion. NCMPs Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa of the Progress Singapore Party supported both motions, but disagreed with the $10,000 fine for Ms Khan.
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Initial reactions online show that many netizens think that at the very least Raeesah Khan is getting off too lightly. Other responses are even harsher in thei judgment of her.
The second motion asked the House to agree that Mr Singh be referred to the Public Prosecutor, and also to defer any sanctions on the WP leadership (Mr Singh, Ms Lim and Mr Manap) until the Public Prosecutor’s investigations had run the ircourse. This motion was also passed.
During the debate, Ms Lim rejected the COP’s findings that the evidence she had given had been “damaging” to Mr Singh.
The committee had said that part bof Ms Lim’s handwritten notes had helped “prove” that the WP chief had guided Ms Khan to continue telling lies in Parliament. She disputed this.
“If read in the proper context, my evidence is not inconsistent and not damaging to Mr Singh. In fact, it is consistent with his evidence that he was telling her she had to tell the truth,” Ms Lim said.
Read also: All the blame should be squarely’ on Raeesah Khan
‘All the blame should be squarely’ on Raeesah Khan
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