Singapore

Police probing netizen who ‘leaked’ Raeesah Khan’s posts

Facebook user allegedly harassed WP candidate, posted comments that can hurt religious or racial feelings

The controversy surrounding Workers' Party (WP) candidate Raeesah Khan took a twist yesterday after the police said they are investigating a Facebook user who claimed to have flagged her social media posts.

In response to media queries, they confirmed that police reports had been made against an individual using the Facebook moniker "Abdul Malik Mohammed Ghazali". They did not say if this is the user's real name.

The netizen is being investigated for the alleged offences of harassment and posting comments on social media with deliberate intent to wound religious or racial feelings.

In a Facebook post circulated on Sunday, the netizen claimed to be "one of the first to leak out and (make) viral screenshots" of Ms Raeesah's social media accounts.

In the same post, the netizen also said in relation to Ms Raeesah: "Who cares about your father? SMCCI very big meh? Best for you to step down Raeesah, or he'll be next."

Ms Raeesah, 26, is standing in Sengkang GRC as part of a four-member WP team. Her father, Mr Farid Khan, is president of the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI) and was a Singapore presidential hopeful in 2017.

The police said on Sunday that two reports had been made against Ms Raeesah, a social enterprise founder, and that investigations were ongoing.

The police statement said she had allegedly commented that Singapore law enforcement authorities discriminated against citizens, and that compared with other groups, rich Chinese and white people were treated differently under the law.

Another police report was made over a separate post where in the context of a news article on the City Harvest Church court ruling, Ms Raeesah allegedly commented that Singapore jailed minorities mercilessly, harassed mosque leaders but let "corrupt church leaders who stole $50 million" walk free.

Ms Raeesah has since apologised for the posts, saying she did not mean to cause social divisions and had made the remarks to raise awareness about minority concerns.

REGRET

Soon after news of the police reports broke on Sunday night, she said at a press conference: "My remarks were insensitive, and I regret making them.

"I feel really passionate about minority issues regardless of race, and in my passion I made improper remarks, and I have to be accountable for them. I will fully cooperate in any police investigations."

WP chief Pritam Singh said yesterday the party will conduct a review of Ms Raeesah's Facebook posts but only after police investigations are complete.

"There will be a time for this. My preference is of course to do it now, but because there is an ongoing police investigation, I cannot let those investigations be prejudiced by whatever comments I make or she makes," Mr Singh said when asked about calls by the People's Action Party (PAP) for the WP to make its stand clear on the candidate.

"We have made a very extensive statement during our doorstop (on Sunday). And I don't wish to add on to that. And I think the voters of Sengkang have heard her apology," he said.

The PAP statement had asked why the WP still considered her worthy of consideration as an MP given her statements about race and religion.

"This is a serious matter which goes to the fundamental principles on which our country has been built," it had said.

Mr Singh was speaking to the media during a walkabout in the new Sengkang GRC with the WP team, led by lawyer He Ting Ru, 37.

Ms He said the WP candidates in the constituency have been working hard on the ground even after the latest developments.

"We have been having very deep and meaningful conversations with the residents. This matter has come up, and we have had very good discussions with some of the residents about this. They have expressed both support and concern," she said.

"I think it is important to go back to what Raeesah had actually said earlier. She has apologised for previous comments, and now we should just leave the matter in the hands of the police."

Apart from Ms He and Ms Raeesah, the other members of the WP team in Sengkang are economist Jamus Lim, 44, and equity research analyst Louis Chua, 33.

'GUTTER POLITICS'

Progress Singapore Party (PSP) chief Tan Cheng Bock yesterday described the controversy over the Ms Raeesah's posts as "gutter politics".

Dr Tan told reporters that whoever made the police reports had timed them to coincide with the campaign period.

"(The posts were made) so long ago, they should have taken action (earlier). Why wait until now? That is my question," he said.

"When it comes to politicking of this nature, let us (take the high road), then the world will look at us and regard Singapore as a mature country."

Dr Tan said parties should ask themselves if they have conducted their campaign in a "gentlemanly way".

"I don't want to pick an event that happened two years ago. That shows they have been waiting for this moment, and this is what I call gutter politics," he said in an interview after accompanying his party's Tanjong Pagar GRC team on a walkabout at Bukit Merah View Market. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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GENERAL ELECTION 2020