Desmond Lee challenges Pritam Singh's comments that the COP report did not reflect all submitted evidence
SINGAPORE: Committee of Privileges (COP) member Desmond Lee on Tuesday (Feb 15) challenged Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh's comments that the COP report did not reflect all submitted evidence.
Seeking clarification during the debate on two motions on the COP's final report, Mr Lee, who is also Minister for National Development, said that Mr Singh had left out mentioning part of his exchange with Ms Raeesah Khan's assistants Ms Loh Pei Ying and Mr Yudhishthra Nathan during his speech.
"In his speech, Mr Singh had said that the Committee of Privileges report somehow was incomplete or inaccurate because it doesn't reflect all the evidence that was submitted. There was voluminous material submitted to the committee and transcripts running into the thousands of pages which we took time and care to go through," said Mr Lee.
"He in particular said that the report didn't reflect or didn't capture or didn't include or didn't annex Ms Loh Pei Ying's and Mr Yudhishthra Nathan's contemporaneous views about the formation of the DP (Workers' Party's disciplinary panel) as one example of his sense that the COP wasn't complete in its findings."
However, Mr Lee said that what Mr Singh had not mentioned was that Miss Loh had messaged him to express "grave reservations" about the panel as well as Mr Singh's "suppression of material facts" concerning his involvement with the panel.
After reading out an exchange of messages between Ms Loh and Mr Singh, Mr Lee said that it added "more complexion" to what Mr Singh had stated.
This was raised to Mr Singh when he was interviewed by the COP, pointed out Mr Lee, who went on to read out a conversation between Ms Loh and Mr Nathan.
"These and other messages are in the (COP's) annexes, some of it is in the evidence and some of the messages were placed in front of Mr Singh and some of the other witnesses - they are in the transcripts," said Mr Lee.
"So in a sense, all the evidence, all the exhibits will be placed before the PP (public prosecutor) and I welcome Mr Singh's support that all this will be placed before the PP to be considered so that he can clear his name and put his explanation up."
In response, Mr Singh said that Mr Lee had failed to address the point in his speech about "contemporaneous evidence".
"The fact of the matter is the COP relies on contemporaneous evidence and puts a high prohibitive value in it in certain cases. Mr Lee just read out a narration of text messages between Ms Loh and Mr Nathan which is on the record. And my point is I have submitted documents to the COP which are not on the record and there's an important difference there," he said.
In his second clarification, Mr Lee also asked Mr Pritam where in the report had he seen the word "weaponised" used and whether drafts of the report had been shared with him.
"It's a very specific way of characterisation. And this is important for the integrity of the COP process. The initial draft, read as follows: 'Mr Singh essentially weaponised unsubstantiated allegations that Miss Khan was unstable and unreliable, and that she was prone to lying because of her mental health and this was connected to her being a sexual assault victim,'" said Mr Lee later.
However, Mr Lee said that in the final report, no mention of the word "weaponised" was present.
"That phrase was debated in committee, and we decided to remove it, and this is what you see. So Mr Singh would not have referenced to this specific term unless somehow earlier drafts were shared with him. So can he confirm or deny that people told him about the drafts?"
In response, Mr Singh said that he was not referring to drafts of the COP's report.
"That was my characterisation of what I saw the COP report was doing, and hence my choice of my usage of the word 'weaponised'. I did not refer in my speech to saying that the report specifically used the word 'weaponised'."
The COP is chaired by Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin. Other members include Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu, Senior Minister of State for Defence and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, Parliamentary Secretary for Communications and Information and for Health Rahayu Mahzam, MP Don Wee (PAP-Chua Chu Kang) and MP Dennis Tan (WP-Hougang).