Al Jazeera responds to Vivian Balakrishnan’s accusations

The following is Al Jazeera’s response to Dr Vivian Balakrishnan’s remarks in Parliament on 27 April 2010. The MCYS minister had accused Al Jazeera of “[failing] to ascertain the facts” in its report on the homeless issue in Singapore.

TOC understands Al Jazeera has also sent its response to the Straits Times.

TOC will respond to the minister’s remarks later today.

I write in response to criticism of Al Jazeera English’s recent story on homelessness in Singapore.

Al Jazeera stands by the report which we feel is factually correct.

The homeless couple featured in our report were locked out of the system of state support because of bureaucratic regulation.

The fact that they were previously successful and had owned and sold homes was mentioned in the report, but was not strictly relevant.

The real point of story was to illustrate how the safety net in Singapore sometimes fails to catch those who have fallen on hard times – whatever their background – because of the rules governing access to assistance.

The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports was twice invited to respond to the claims made in the report, but declined Al Jazeera’s request for an interview.

Nevertheless, our reporter did include a previous statement from Dr Balakrishnan defending the Singaporean government’s approach to the problem of homelessness and we would like to renew our invitation to Dr Balakrishnan to appear on the channel to discuss this issue.




Read also: Minister Balakrishnan scolds Al Jazeera and bloggers by Singapore Mind.