Singapore GE2020: WP's Raeesah Khan Apologizes for Alleged Comments on Race, Religion

  • Raeesah Khan, a social activist, is WP's youngest candidate and is contesting from Sengkang GRC in the upcoming GE2020

  • Khan made comments on social media that Singapore law and enforcement discriminate based on race and religion

After Singapore Police launched an investigation into Workers' Party candidate Raeesah Khan for allegedly making comments on discrimination against the country's law and enforcement authorities, she apologized for the remarks.

In a statement on Sunday, July 5, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said they received two reports (on July 4 and 5) regarding Khan's comments on social media where she allegedly claimed that police discriminate based on race.

"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," the statement read.

The SPF further added that she made the comments in relation to the City Harvest Church ruling. Khan alleged that law and enforcement authorities "mercilessly jailed minors" and "harassed mosque leaders".

Raeesah Khan
WP's Raeesah Khan is contesting from Sengkang GRC Facebook/ Raeesah Khan

"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 S$50 million walk free, and questioned who had been paid," the SPF added in the statement.

The posts in question were made in 2018 and May this year. The 26-year-old is part of the four-member WP team from Sengkang GRC that includes He Ting Ru, Jamus Lim and Louis Chua. They are up against the ruling People's Action Party's Ng Chee Meng, Lam Pin Min, Amrin Amin and Raymond Lye Hoong Yip.

Raeesah Khans comments
Raeesah Khans comments

Khan Apologizes, Gets WP's Backing

However, late on June 5, she apologized during a visit to the Compassvale Link. She said it was not her intention to hurt religious sentiments.

"My intention was never to cause any social division but to raise awareness to the minorities concerned. I apologize to any community that was hurt by my comments. My remarks were insensitive and I regret making them," said Khan, who was accompanied by WP chief Pritam Singh at the press conference.

"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 with the police investigation," she added.

Raeesah Khan
Facebook/ Raeesah Khan

Singh said the party will continue to back her. However, there is a chance that if the police investigation is complete before the polling day, her nomination might be cancelled. "She is really vested in what residents are facing. I think those are very important criteria for me personally. So, I have got no regrets for fielding a candidate who is like them," Singh said.

Khan, a social entrepreneur is WP's youngest candidate in the Singapore General Election 2020, slated for July 10. She has been lauded for her work for minority groups. She is also the founder and chief executive of Reyna Movement, an organization that works towards the empowerment of marginalized women and children of Singapore and Johor (Malaysia).

However, if proven guilty of the charges, she can face up to three years in jail and fine or both under Section 298A of the Penal Code for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion or race.

"The Police have consulted the Attorney-General's Chambers, which 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. Police investigations are ongoing," SPF said.

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Netizens Stand with Her

However, not many see the charges against her as legitimate. Many netizens suggested that she used her platform to speak for the minority groups. In Singapore, #IStandWithRaeesah was the trending hashtag on July 5.

"We shouldn't even penalise Raeesah Khan for using her platform to talk about how she feels or what type of change she wants to bring to Singapore via partaking in the 2020 General Elections," one user posted on Twitter.