SINGAPORE: Leader of the House Grace Fu has written to the Workers' Party's Leon Perera, requesting that he apologise in Parliament for making "false allegations" against Mediacorp and misleading members of the House.
Mr Perera suggested in November 2017 that Mediacorp had put up a video of a Parliamentary debate with "certain bits removed", and that the broadcaster made a rectification only after he communicated with them.
However, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat later pointed out that Mediacorp had in fact rectified the clip and put the full debate online on Feb 18, two days before Mr Perera had emailed the company on Feb 20.
The video in question was a clip of an exchange during the Presidential Elections Act debate in February that year.
"DO THE RIGHT THING": GRACE FU
In her letter to Mr Perera dated Jan 3, 2018, Ms Fu wrote: "Your allegations in Parliament on Nov 7, 2017 amount to a misrepresentation of facts and if left uncorrected, a misleading of Parliament. This is a serious matter."
She requested that the Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) correct his misrepresentation when Parliament sits on Jan 8, in the form of a personal statement covering the following points:
- That his allegations that Mediacorp had deliberately edited Parliamentary footage and removed parts of the video, and that Mediacorp had "made a rectification and put up a different clip" only after his intervention, were untrue
- That he had accepted Mediacorp's explanation long before the Parliamentary sitting on Nov 7
- That he withdraw allegations against Mediacorp in full
- That he apologise to the House for misrepresenting facts and misleading Parliament.
"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," said Ms Fu in her letter.
MPs must be "scrupulous with facts", Ms Fu added. "They must not misuse this (Parliamentary) privilege to misrepresent facts or make unfounded allegations. This will lower the standing of MPs and the Parliament, and undermine the integrity of our political system."
MCI ASKED FOR "FULL ACCOUNT" OF FACTS
Mr Perera had emailed Mediacorp on Feb 20, 2017 to ask why a certain portion of the Parliamentary video clip was not available online. Mediacorp replied on the same day, explaining that a technical glitch had affected the recording, and that the issue had been rectified two days earlier, on Feb 18.
On Feb 21, Mr Perera replied to Mediacorp and accepted their explanation.
This correspondence between Mr Perera and the broadcaster was brought to the attention of the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), as the ministry had asked Mediacorp for the "full account" of facts.
Said an MCI spokesperson: "Mediacorp, as the national broadcaster, is commissioned by the Government to provide coverage of all Parliamentary proceedings.
"Given the seriousness of the allegations against Mediacorp, MCI had asked Mediacorp for the full account of facts outlined by Mr Perera, and they then provided details."
In response to queries on why Ms Fu wrote to Mr Perera nearly two months after he made the allegations, MCI said that the right forum for Mr Perera to clear the matter would be in Parliament, where he made the comments.
"The earliest sitting since November's sitting is in fact the Jan 8 sitting," said the spokesperson.
Channel NewsAsia has reached out to Mr Perera for a response.
This is not the first time a member of the House has been asked to withdraw allegations and apologise.
In 2002, former Speaker of Parliament and then-East Coast MP Tan Soo Khoon made a personal statement in Parliament. He apologised for suggesting in a debate on transport fare increases that Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Public Transport Council had misled Parliament and Singaporeans.