Raeesah Khan, one of the Workers’ Party (WP)’s candidates for Sengkang group representation constituency (GRC) this year, issued a public apology following the controversy surrounding Facebook posts she made in 2018.
In a Facebook post on Sunday night (5 July), Ms Khan clarified that her purpose of making the post was “to raise awareness to minority concerns” and “never to cause any social division” unlike what was alleged of her.
However, while she stressed that she is “passionate about minority issues, regardless of race”, Ms Khan said that she regretted making the “insensitive” remarks in the post and has “to be accountable for them”.
“I apologise to any racial group or community who have been hurt by my comments,” she said, adding that she will extend her full cooperation to police in their investigations.
The Singapore Police Force in a statement on Sunday evening said that they received two police reports — on Saturday and Sunday respectively — regarding Ms Khan’s social media remarks.
“She allegedly commented that Singapore law enforcement authorities discriminated against citizens, and that compared to other groups, rich Chinese and white people were treated differently under the law.
“In the context of a news article on the City Harvest Church ruling, Raeesah Khan allegedly commented that Singapore jailed minorities mercilessly, harassed mosque leaders but let corrupt church leaders who stole SGD50 million walk free, and questioned who had been paid,” said the police.
Police said that investigations into Ms Khan’s case are still ongoing and that they have consulted Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) on the matter.
The AGC, said Police, “advised that an offence of promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race under Section 298A of the Penal Code is disclosed”.
Candidates should not have to “sanitise their past”, should be “authentic” towards the public: WP chief Pritam Singh
While declining to comment on Ms Khan’s posts due to the ongoing nature of the police investigations, WP secretary-general Pritam Singh said that it would be a disappointment if WP’s candidates attempted to “sanitise their past”, and that they should be “authentic” towards the public.
“In the event that there are certain posts or certain comments that they may have made which are untoward, then I would expect them to explain themselves.
“And that’s how I think that generation who has lived on social media, from their adolescent years, will have to understand the difference between what you do on social media, and what happens when you move into the public realm,” he told media on Sunday.
Stressing that Ms Khan takes “every case very seriously” when assisting in past Meet-the-People sessions “regardless of race and religion”, Mr Singh also said that Ms Khan will continue campaigning as a candidate in Sengkang GRC and that the party will review the case after the election.
“She’s very vested into what the resident is facing and what help the person needs. So I think those are very important criteria for me personally to consider someone for candidature — whether you are able to put yourself and walk in the mile of the shoes of someone who needs help in a system,” said Mr Singh.
“I have no regrets for fielding a candidate who is like that, who is prepared to walk with residents to solve their problems and issues,” he added.
Members of the public were appalled by how Ms Khan’s remarks “could even warrant a police investigation”.
Individuals from minority races affirmed Ms Khan’s comments and thanked her for speaking up on their lived experiences and the issues they face as minorities in Singapore.
Ms Khan’s case, they added, is a sign that greater transparency is needed “on what constitutes racial discourse” and what constitutes stoking racial tensions.
Many Chinese Singaporeans have also supported Ms Khan, stating that her remarks were not racist and that she should not have been “made to feel sorry” for highlighting “systemic inequalities”.
Commenters also praised Ms Khan for her brave decision to apologise and be made accountable for the remarks she made — a move many have branded as a mark of good leadership qualities.
Several commenters also lauded Mr Singh for standing alongside Ms Khan and making an unequivocal statement on the matter.