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Raeesah resigns as MP, the 4G is (still) searching for a leader

Kirsten Han
Kirsten Han
4 min read

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What. A. Mess.

Raeesah Khan has resigned from the Workers' Party, thereby vacating her seat as a Member of Parliament for Sengkang GRC. But that hasn't been the end of it this week, and it's got messier with every new development.

WP leader, Pritam Singh, said that the party found out that Raeesah had fudged the story about the sexual assault case — she'd said that she had accompanied the survivor to the police station, when she'd actually heard that story in a support group for survivors that she had not been ready to publicly admit that she attended, since that would require outing herself as a survivor of sexual assault — a week after her original speech in August. They didn't speak up immediately, because Singh decided to give Raeesah space and time to inform her family of the sexual assault that she had experienced, which was central to why she had lied in Parliament. He said that he'd urged her to clear the air in October, but she ended up sticking to her original (false) story. It was only during the November Parliament sitting that Raeesah set the record straight.

Unfortunately, it gets uglier. In a special report produced by the Committee of Privileges, which included a summary of what Raeesah had said to them, she'd told Pritam, Sylvia Lim, and Faisal Manap shortly after her August speech in Parliament that she'd lied, and they'd advised her to stick to the narrative she'd presented.

This all looks bad, implicating not just Raeesah, but also senior members of the Workers' Party. Misleading Parliament, and the public, is not acceptable behaviour for any elected official, and Raeesah and the WP have to be accountable for this whole sorry situation. I do feel that the lack of a by-election in Sengkang GRC, now that they've lost one MP, short-changes the people of that constituency, just as those in Marsiling GRC were short-changed when Halimah Yacob stepped down so she could go for the presidency. I can understand why WP would choose not to have a by-election — particularly since Singaporean law allows this to be so — but this is just a general principled beef I have with the GRC system.

Above and beyond all this drama, though, what really bugs me is how we are now no longer talking about the trauma, challenges, and barriers that survivors of sexual assault have to grapple with in Singapore. Raeesah's lie does not erase the fact that sexual assault is under-reported, and that survivors really struggle with shame and stigma, and that the process can be really difficult and re-traumatising. There is so much more work that needs to be done here; while partisan political drama can nab headlines, this is an issue that has a serious impact on many people's lives, and we shouldn't forget it.


Still gotta wait for that 4G boss

Succession planning is starting to feel like successive planning. The 4G still hasn't chosen a new leader from among them now that Heng Swee Keat has stepped down from that position. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during the PAP convention that they need more time to figure this out, but that it'll probably be sorted before the next general election.


Got some more…

🏳️‍⚧️ The investigation into #FixSchoolsNotStudents has finally come to a close. Of the three who were arrested, one got a two-year conditional warning, while the other two received one-year conditional warnings. The two who weren't arrested received stern warnings, and one more person got a stern warning for abetting participation in an illegal assembly, because they had helped with the placards. 🙄 Meanwhile, I received a phone call and a letter saying that no further action will be taken against me.

👩🏻‍⚖️ The High Court has dismissed an application by 17 Malay prisoners on death row alleging discrimination in the prosecution's handling of cases, given the disproportionately high number of Malays who have been sentenced to death. The judge said that their application amounted to an abuse of the court process and that the "causal link is obscure". The prisoners should be able to appeal this decision, although that'll probably not happen until next year, since their lawyer, M Ravi, is on medical leave for now.

📱Why do we still have to TraceTogether everywhere we go? I was wondering if there was still some reason why this level of tracking is required, but even an associate professor at the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health thinks it doesn’t need to be mandatory in Low-risk areas anymore.


It seems like Nagaenthran's case isn't going to be heard until 2022, thank goodness. That gives us more time, which is always precious in a death row case.

A quote from the letter Nagen's mother wrote to the President and Prime Minister.

Yesterday was International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and I submitted a plea for clemency for Nagen on behalf of his family, who couldn't do it in person since they're in Malaysia. The letter, signed by his mother, highlighted his disabilities, how much he's loved by his family, and their concern that his current mental condition is so poor that he isn't able to really comprehend what "execution" means.

You can read the letter in full here.


The acknowledgement slip I received after submitting the clemency letters at the Istana mail room.

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A Singaporean independent journalist, activist, and cat slave.