Special report on Raeesah Khan's hearing released to keep the House informed of progress: Office of the Clerk of Parliament
SINGAPORE: While a final report will be presented to Parliament in due course, the Office of the Clerk of Parliament said the committee investigating former Sengkang MP Raeesah Khan chose to release a special report first so as to keep Parliament informed of the progress of its investigations in a "timely manner".
In a reply on Monday (Dec 6) to media queries, the Office of the Clerk of Parliament explained that existing rules allowed the Committee of Privileges to present such special reports.
"Under Standing Order 105 (2), the Committee may, at any time during its proceedings, make a Special Report to Parliament on any matter which it may think fit to bring to the notice of Parliament," the Office said, adding that special reports have also been issued in the past.
This statement came a day after the Workers' Party (WP) questioned the timing of the report that was released on Friday.
WP said on Sunday that the interim report had been released "without having taken the evidence of Workers' Party leaders against whom serious allegations have been made".
"The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Pritam Singh, had made it clear on 2 December, that he is prepared to give evidence before the Committee of Privileges," the party said.
The Committee's special report contained statements from Ms Khan and other WP members that contradicted the WP chief's account of what happened after Ms Khan related a false anecdote in Parliament on Aug 3.
She then repeated the lie on Oct 4 upon questioning in Parliament. She came clean and apologised on the Nov 1 Parliament sitting, after which a complaint was filed against her, that is now before the Committee of Privileges.
Ms Khan has since resigned from the Workers' Party and as MP.
Mr Singh said at a press conference on Dec 2 that he and other party leaders had told Ms Khan to correct her lie, saying: "It was nonetheless made known to her before the parliamentary sitting in October that any parliamentary clarification on this matter was hers to make in her capacity as an elected Member of Parliament."
But according to Ms Khan's testimony, Mr Singh visited her on Oct 3 and “told her that if she kept to her existing narrative on the untruths which she had said on Aug 3, there would be no judgment by him”.
WP said on Sunday that it would give its response "at the appropriate forum and juncture" as the Committee's work remains in progress.
In Monday's statement, the Office of the Clerk of Parliament also said that the Committee of Privileges would present its final Report to Parliament "in due course" and that details related to hearings and witnesses were not fixed.
"The Committee’s mandate is to thoroughly look into any matter pertaining to the complaint, and will be reviewing the evidence and submissions put before it on an ongoing basis," it said.
"Details regarding meetings /hearings as well as potential witnesses will therefore remain fluid. Meetings of Select Committees are held in private unless resolved otherwise."
It can summon any person to appear before the Committee to give evidence at any time before the conclusion of its report, the Office added, citing the Parliament (Privileges, Immunities and Powers) Act.
The Committee will continue its investigations into the complaint and will hear further evidence if it sees fit, the Office said.
It released in the Dec 3 report evidence from Ms Khan, Ms Loh Pei Ying, former secretarial assistant to Ms Khan; Mr Lim Hang Ling, former legislative assistant to Ms Khan; and Mr Yudhishthra Nathan, a WP volunteer.
The members of the committee are Speaker of the House Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu, Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, Senior Minister of State for Defence and for Manpower and Deputy Leader of the House Zaqy Mohamad, Parliamentary Secretary for Communications and Information and for Health Rahayu Mahzam, and MPs, Mr Dennis Tan (WP-Hougang) and Mr Don Wee (PAP-Chua Chu Kang).