Tidbits from Pritam's Second 15th Dec COP hearing

Given that Pritam had just given evidence on the 10th, it is surprising to see him called up for a second time. What exactly transpired between 10th and 15th Dec that justified a second summoning?
Pritam Second Hearing
More importantly, Raeesah’s testimony that WP leaders told her explicitly to keep up the lie differs greatly from the others. You would think that calling up Raeesah to give statement on this is of grave importance. But since Pritam was called up first, the committee must have thought otherwise.
So what exactly were the motivations for a second Pritam hearing.

Tidbits:

  1. Edwin’s first set of questions shines light to the motivations for Pritam’s second hearing.
    It was a meandering series of questions from Edwin. He first revisited a series of past questions and events. Then he finally brought up Sylvia’s evidence in her hearing, and clarified that they summoned Pritam again to seek clarifications on this.
    Specifically, it was Sylvia’s submission of the meeting notes of the DP that happened on the 29th November:
    Sylvia evidence on the 29th DP hearing regarding an exchange between Pritam and Raeesah
  2. The COP used Sylvia’s evidence as proof that Pritam had given Raeesah the choice to lie.
    Specifically, the first line in Sylvia’s evidence gave them a strong case.
    Pritam had said it was clear in his view that he had told Raeesah to tell the truth in the meeting before the October parliament sitting. But this evidence contradicted that because, he used the phrase “I told you it was your call”.
    The line, by itself, does show Pritam has left it vague and told Raeesah it was “her call”. You could see why the COP could use this as evidence that Pritam was insinuating that it was alright for Raeesah to continue covering up the lie.
    The COP could make the case, if Pritam had wanted her to tell the truth, Pritam would have used exact words to that effect, instead of “I told you it was your call”.
  3. Pritam’s used the following parts of the same evidence as his defence.
    Pritam stated that in his mind, he still thought it was clear that he wanted Raeesah to tell the truth.
    He also pointed out the rhetorical statement of “Can’t lie, right?” in the same evidence as proof he did not want Raeesah to lie.
  4. Raeesah was crying and crying during the 29th DP hearing.
    Pritam used that as the reason why he used phrases such as “your call”. He thought it was the most suitable way to elicit a response from Raeesah.
  5. Pritam actually wrote an email to Raeesah’s father in the second half of Oct.
    In that exchange with Farid Khan, ownership and responsibility are quite a major part of Pritam’s message. Pritam used that as evidence that it was clear what he expected Raeesah to do.
    This was submitted as part of Pritam’s "100 pages of documents" to the committee. I hope the COP takes all evidence into account and not just cherry pick certain phrases like “I told you it was your call”.
  6. The remainder of Edwin's questioning orbits around Sylvia’s submission, again, specifically the phrase “your call”.
    Edwin asked why not be clear, especially since Raeesah was a rookie MP. Pritam conceded that he could be more direct and clearer. But he also stated that they had to see the context of why those phrases were used.

Afterword:

  1. Raeesah’s statement of “take the truth to the grave” is an elephant in the room.
    For me, I don’t think the hearing can proceed (or worse, conclude) if we don’t first clarify with Raeesah how she came up with the phrase.
    Consider the hypothetical scenario, that Raeesah is called back and she once for all, admitted no WP leaders told her to “take the truth to the grave.”, that she had lied again in her hearing. It would have saved everybody a lot of time and help the COP arrive at a fair conclusion.
    Not asking Raeesah back to clarify this statement, is incongruous with the COP’s proclaimed mission of “fact finding”.
  2. So does the COP still suspect that Pritam wanted Raeesah to cover up the lie?
    It seemed that this was what the second hearing was seeking to clarify. And of course, it was another opportunity for the COP to re-emphasise Pritam's communication failures.
    But there’s only one new evidence which is Sylvia’s “your call” submission. That, to me, seems flimsy compared to:
    1. the rhetorical question “can’t lie, right” that followed
    2. other evidences presented in line with wanting Raeesah to tell the truth, and,
    3. that there were no evidence of direct instruction to cover up the lie.
  3. It is COP’s right to call up anyone they want to talk to.
    Chairman Tan Chuan-Jin took time at the end to explain the reason for calling Pritam up a second time. I appreciated that he did illuminate some light behind the reasoning.
    I only wished he had done the same in Jamus' hearing.
    Jamus is coming
    With great powers to call up anyone, comes great responsibility. From the public’s point of view, if the COP keeps calling up people to restate evidence for the record, while skirting around glaring points of contention (such as from Raeesah), public opinion will sway against this COP.
  4. Looking at the special report worried me.
    The hearing by itself is pretty straightforward, but the special report is infuriating. Firstly, it states that the hearing is largely concluded save for a few outstanding matters which will be assessed and addressed by the Committee henceforth.
    COP Hearing is Largely Concluded
    I cannot understand how it’s “largely concluded” when we have not heard from Raeesah how she thought she was given instructions to continue lying. The degree of culpability for all parties involve hinges greatly on this.
    Reminder that the "crime" here is that "Raeesah lied in parliament". And the COP's job is to investigate the responsibilities of guilty parties that may help craft this lie.
    Their job is not to investigate if Pritam could have communicated better with his team. Yes, they could investigate if he was the mastermind of a coverup attempt though careful use of words. But COP cannot cherry pick evidence to build their narrative that incompetency in communication was an attempt at coverup.
    So, the heart of the issue, is whether Raeesah lied because WP wanted a coverup. Raeesah has accused the WP leaders of asking her to take the truth "to the grave". We must get to the bottom of Raeesah's statement before the hearing can conclude.
  5. Another important point in the special report stated that Pritam, Sylvia and Faisal failed/refused to provide documents requested by the COP.
    Specifically, the documents requested include internal correspondence between senior leadership concerning issues raised in the COP (from Faisal's hearing). As such, summons were issued to them.
    Exactly why they didn’t submit the documents are unclear. I would like to hear the reason. Perhaps they needed time to redact items discussed in senior WP meetings that are irrelevant to this case?
    We won’t know until we hear statements from WP.
  6. Edwin and Pritam have shared interests to keep the hearing a non-contentious affair.
    After the verbal sparring in the first hearing, I was worried that I would have to nurse another headache while listening to this.
    But this hearing was not like the first. It was short and clear, and both parties made their points clearly through the questions and answers.
    Edwin has much to gain by keeping this civil. He had more time to deliver clearly pointed question, without the opportunity for Pritam to turn it into a dirty verbal slugfest and avoid answering.
    The current version of events recounted by Pritam is already damaging enough to WP. Politically, Edwin has more to gain by keeping quiet and letting Pritam dig his own grave and account for multiple failures in full view of Singaporeans.
    Similarly for Pritam, not coming across as evasive/defensive is a better look for him. In this hearing, he could better articulate his defence, justify his actions and show his compassion as a leader for Singaporeans who have yet to form an opinion of the matter.
    It takes two hands to clap. I'm glad both parties are able to keep this hearing more civil than the first.
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