Singapore Opposition party chiefs face scrutiny in lying scandal

Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh with Sengkang GRC MP He Ting Ru (left) and party chairman Sylvia Lim at a press conference in Singapore on Dec 2, 2021. – The Straits Times/ANN

SINGAPORE, (Bloomberg): Singapore’s largest opposition party is under pressure after a parliamentary committee issued a report showing its leadership was said to have allegedly allowed former lawmaker Raeesah Khan to maintain a lie that led to her resignation from parliament.

The party said on Sunday the report was released “without having taken the evidence of Workers’ Party leaders against whom serious allegations have been made.”

It would be “prudent” to respond “at the appropriate forum and juncture” as the committee’s work into the scandal remains in progress, it said.

Khan resigned from the Workers’ Party last week after admitting she lied in parliament about details of a sexual assault case during a speech on empowering women.

She had shared in parliament in August an anecdote of a sexual assault case she said was mishandled by the police, an allegation she later retracted three months later after admitting she manufactured some of the details.

During an investigation into the matter, Khan testified that the party leadership of Pritam Singh, party chairman Sylvia Lim and vice-chairman Faisal Manap allegedly initially told her that “the best thing for her to do would be to continue with the narrative that she had already given in parliament,” according to a special report issued late Friday by the committee.

The scandal is a blow for an opposition party that made historic gains in last year’s general elections, casting itself as a check on the ruling People’s Action Party.

Though the PAP earned 61% of the vote in 2020, a recent poll showed Singaporeans’ trust in their government’s leadership fell as Covid-19 cases soared in a recent wave.

The Workers’ Party has said Singh, Singapore’s first formally-designated leader of the opposition in parliament, was prepared to give evidence before the so-called Committee of Privileges. The panel, almost entirely made up of ruling party officials, is probing the matter.

Khan, who has been a social activist since her teens, was among the record number of female candidates to have taken part in last year’s elections.

The incident has divided opinions within the opposition party over Singh’s handling of the matter, according to the Straits Times. – Bloomberg

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