Leader of the House Grace Fu calls on WP's Leon Perera to apologise in Parliament for alleging in November 2017 that Mediacorp had edited parliamentary footage in partisan manner. Photo: PAP and TODAY file photo
SINGAPORE — Leader of the House Grace Fu has called on Workers’ Party Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Leon Perera to apologise to Parliament during Monday’s sitting for making false allegations that national broadcaster Mediacorp had deliberately edited and removed certain parts of a Parliamentary footage.
In a letter to Mr Perera dated Wednesday (Jan 3), a copy of which was provided to the media, Ms Fu said that the allegations made during the Parliament session on Nov 7 last year “amount to a misrepresentation of facts and if left uncorrected, a misleading of Parliament”.
“This is a serious matter,” she said.
Ms Fu said that Mr Perera might wish to seek leave from Parliament Speaker Tan Chuan-Jin at the end of question time at the next Parliament sitting on Jan 8 to make “a personal statement covering four key points”.
These include admitting that his allegations — that Mediacorp had deliberately edited Parliamentary footage and removed parts of the video, and “made rectification and put up a different clip” after his intervention — were untrue, and withdraw the allegations in full.
Apart from apologising to the House for “misrepresenting facts and misleading Parliament”, Mr Perera should also acknowledge that Mediacorp had explained the issue to him and he had accepted this long before the Nov 7 Parliamentary sitting, said Ms Fu.
Ms Fu wrote at the end of the letter: “I hope that having had time to reflect on the matter, you will do the right thing and set a correct example for maintaining clean and honest politics in Singapore.”
When contacted by TODAY, Mr Perera said he was “studying the letter”, and “considering the most appropriate response”.
In an parliamentary exchange on Nov 7 with Senior Minister of State Chee Hong Tat, Mr Perera claimed that some video recordings of Parliament sessions put up by Mediacorp were edited.
He cited the example of a clip on the debates on the Presidential Election Act in February where “there were certain bits removed”.
“It was actually communicated with Mediacorp and through the correspondence, they actually made the rectification and put up a different clip. So, I think that was resolved quite amicably,” Mr Perera had then said.
This prompted Mr Chee to seek a clarification on the timeline of events, pointing out that Mr Perera had written to Mediacorp on Feb 20 last year to ask why the clip had been truncated. The broadcaster responded that it was due to a technical glitch, and a full clip was made available online on Feb 18.
In response, Mr Perera said that he was willing to accept what Mr Chee had detailed as fact.
However, the exchange spilled over to social media two days later, with Mr Chee taking to Facebook to accuse Mr Perera of trying to “score political points” by implying Mediacorp had edited parliamentary footage in a partisan manner.
“This was a serious accusation. But it was false, and unfair to Mediacorp who work very hard to prepare footages after every Parliament sitting,” Mr Chee had said.
“It is part of debate to criticise and present different views. But it is unethical and wrong to tell untruths to score political points. This is not what Singaporeans want to see in Parliament.”
Responding in a Facebook post, Mr Perera said he did not state that the footage in question had been edited in a partisan manner.
He said his questions in Parliament had been about ownership of the copyright to parliamentary video footage and why “live” feeds of Parliament sittings could not be made available, as is the case in many other countries.
Ms Fu reiterated in her letter on Wednesday that MPs enjoy Parliamentary privilege, “so that they can speak freely in Parliament, to surface views from their constituents and the public”.
“However, in their Parliamentary interventions, MPs must be scrupulous with facts. They must not misuse this privilege to misrepresent facts or make unfounded allegations. This will lower the standing of the MPs and the Parliament and undermine the integrity of our political system,” she said.
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