Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman Paul Tambyah is among those who expressed support for Workers’ Party (WP) MP Raeesah Khan, after she was given a stern police warning over two controversial Facebook posts, yesterday (17 Sept).
Ms Khan was catapulted into the public eye in June when she was announced as one of the new WP candidates standing in the 2020 General Election. In the middle of the campaign period, some citizens made police reports against Ms Khan over the views she expressed in two old social media posts.
In the posts, which were published in February 2018 and May 2020, Ms Khan allegedly claimed that the authorities discriminated against citizens on the basis of race and religion. Ms Khan publicly apologised for the remarks she had made in the posts after the police reports were made and the WP stood by their candidate.
In a stunning upset, Ms Khan and her teammates were elected at Sengkang GRC – the second multi-member constituency to ever be won by the opposition – on election night and unseated three political office-holders.
The win at Sengkang GRC was especially momentous for Ms Khan, who became the very first minority-race female opposition MP and the youngest MP in Singapore’s history, since independence.
On Thursday, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) revealed that it has concluded its investigations into the controversial posts and has decided to give Ms Khan a stern warning, without charging her in court.
The SPF said, “The police have completed their investigations and in consultation with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, have issued a stern warning to Ms Raeesah Khan for the offence of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race.” It added that the warning was also issued for “an additional offence of contempt by scandalising the court” in one of her posts.
Ms Khan made a public statement addressing the warning on her Facebook page. Revealing that she fully cooperated with the police investigations, which included an interview, the young MP said:
“Today, I was informed at the police station that I have received a stern warning and the decision has been made not to charge me in Court. I had the benefit of support from my family and friends who helped me to understand the system, what I was being investigated for and how I could represent myself to the best of my ability.”
Asserting that she never intended to cause social unrest or division, Ms Khan said that her passion for minority causes led her to say things in a way that may have caused hurt to certain groups. Apologising once again, the opposition politician said:
“My intention was never to cause social unrest or division. I have spent most of my youth and adult life advocating, campaigning and organizing for minority causes, such as working with families torn apart by incarceration, people with disabilities and women who have gone through sexual assault.
“In my passion, I have said things in a manner that may have caused hurt to certain communities. I apologize for this. I will continue to learn and hope to contribute to positive change in Singapore.”
Ms Khan added that her experience as an MP over the past few months has given her a better understanding of how all Singaporeans can come together to create an equitable, just and compassionate society.
Acknowledging that her position as a leader has given her the power to start difficult conversations, Ms Khan noted how important it is to frame such conversations in a considerate and accountable manner. Promising to use appropriate platforms to speak up for her constituents, she said:
“In these past few months, I have met people from all walks of life in my role as a Member of Parliament. Together with my team, we are working hard to connect with the residents of Sengkang and to help residents who require assistance.
“The conversations I have had have been humbling, insightful, and have allowed me to understand how each one of us has an important role to play in creating a Singapore that is equitable, just, and compassionate.
“From these interactions, I have also learnt that as a leader, I have the power to start difficult conversations, and that it is vital to frame these conversations in a considerate and accountable manner. As an MP, I hope to use the appropriate platforms to speak out on matters concerning my constituents.”
The 26-year-old added: “I thank everyone for their understanding and support throughout this time. I am very grateful for it. I will do my best to pay it forward, and continue to use my voice in Parliament to speak frankly and responsibly on important issues.”
Ms Khan’s post became flooded with likes, comments and shares on Facebook. Over 5,000 people liked her post and hundreds of netizens expressed their support for the young MP.
Among those who encouraged Ms Khan was prominent opposition leader Dr Paul Tambyah. Using his personal account, Dr Tambyah urged Ms Khan to keep up the good work she has been doing:
During the General Elections, a police report was made against two posts I made, one on 2 February 2018 and one on 17…