Singapore—Workers’ Party’s Raeesah Khan became not only the first female Malay opposition Member of Parliament, but is also, at 26 the youngest of all the MPs.
Ms Khan is part of the WP’s team to win the General Election held on July 10 at the newly created Sengkang Group Representation Constituency (GRC), along with lawyer He Ting Ru, economist Jamus Lim, and research analyst Louis Chua Kheng Wee.
The opposition’s Sengkang slate defeated the People’s Action Party (PAP) team in the biggest upset of this year’s election, winning 52.13 percent of the votes. WP’s team, headed by Ms He, had been up against the formidable tandem of labour chief and former MP Ng Chee Meng, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Lam Pin Min, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and Health Amrin Amin, as well as newbie Raymond Lye, a lawyer.
But the WP Sengkang slate had been one to watch early on, especially because of Professor Lim, or “Famous Jamus” as he has come to be known. In the first debate during the campaign period, Mr Lim had given Foreign Affairs Minister Vivian Balakrishnan a run for his money with his sharp, succinct answers and charismatic ways. Mr Lim had, many felt, won that night’s debate and only continued to rise in popularity from there.
Ms Khan, who had been an activist from her teenage years, had been seen going around with WP members from early this year, sparking speculation that she would be among the opposition party candidates. The daughter of former presidential aspirant Farid Khan, the freelance digital marketing consultant and social activist is also the founder of the Reyna Movement, a non-profit organisation she set up to empower women through community engagement and up-skilling programmes as well as to support refugees. In 2019, Ms Khan had been featured as one of the “Changemakers” in Cleo magazine.
However, controversy hounded Ms Khan during the campaign period when two police reports were filed against her concerning comments she made online in 2018 on race and religion. Ms Khan issued an apology hours after the police confirmed that reports had been filed against her on July 5. She also said she would fully cooperate in police investigations.
And while the PAP issued a statement the next day asking the Workers’ Party to clarify its stand on Ms Khan and the matter, she received the full support of the party and continued with the campaign.
Rather than dampening support from the public, many began to support Ms Khan even more, with netizens speaking up saying they believed the police reports filed against her had been unwarranted and unjust.
Hashtags such as #IStandWithRaeesah began to be seen on Twitter, while on Facebook, a public group page called We Stand Behind Raeesah! was created on July 5, the same day the Singapore Police Force confirmed that there were reports filed against the candidate. A petition was also filed on change.org entitled “Let Raeesah Khan campaign in peace. Conduct any investigations after the elections,” was started by a netizen, which quickly gained almost 20,000 signatories.
Oh June 29, Ms Khan had posted a photo of Professor Lim and herself campaigning house to house, captioning it “Just imagine @jamuslim and I in parliament!” In less than two weeks, what Ms Khan imagined is now coming to pass.
— Raeesah Khan (@RaeesahKhanwpsg) June 29, 2020