Grace Fu requests Leon Perera to apologise for comments on edited Parliamentary videos

Leader of the House, Grace Fu has called on Workers’ Party Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Leon Perera to apologise to Parliament during upcoming 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), issued from the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY), Ms Fu said that the allegations made during the Parliament session on 7 Nov last year “amount to a misrepresentation of facts and if left uncorrected, a misleading of Parliament” and that it is a serious matter.

During the Parliament session that Ms Fu is referring to, Mr Perera had asked which entity owns the copyright to the video recordings of parliamentary proceedings; and if these video records are protected by copyright, whether the Ministry of Communication and Information (MCI) would consider removing such copyright and making all video footage of parliamentary proceedings freely available for use.

In his supplementary question to Senior Minister for MCI, he raised an example of video being edited by the broadcaster.

Mr Perera in his supplementary question on 7 November said,

I thank the Senior Minister of State for his reply. There was a specific example where a clip was put up in relation to the Presidential Election Act debates, if my memory serve me well, it was in January or February, and the clip that was put up of certain exchanges, 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.

My point is that, in general, is it the case that all the clips that are put up are completely free of editing? I think the Senior Minister of State himself conceded that there is a certain degree of editing. So, those decisions are decisions which involve a high level of discretion. Should they be decisions handled by a private entity or should they be handled by a Government body subject to scrutiny, subject to questioning?

Mr Chee, during an extension of the day’s sitting, contested the claims of Mr Perera by saying that a technical error had led to a truncation of the clip and Mediacorp had fixed it on 18 February, two days before Mr Perera wrote to them and noted that the edit of the clip is not a result of Mr Perera’s email to the broadcaster.

A day later after the parliamentary session, Mr Chee went on his Facebook page and alleged that Mr Perera was implying that MediaCorp had edited Parliamentary footages in a partisan manner and that he was telling untruths to score political points.

In her letter to Mr Perera, Ms Fu suggested that he might wish to seek leave from Parliament Speaker at the end of question time at the next Parliament sitting on 8 Jan to make “a personal statement to covering four key points highlighted by her.

The four points are:

  • 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,
  • Acknowledge that Mediacorp had explained the issue to him and he had accepted this long before the 7 Nov Parliamentary sitting,
  • Withdraw the allegations in full, and
  • Apologise to the House for “misrepresenting facts and misleading Parliament”

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.”

In response to media query, Mr Perera said he was “studying the letter”, and “considering the most appropriate response”