SINGAPORE: The suggestion by the Workers’ Party’s Leon Perera that Mediacorp had removed “certain bits” from a video on a Parliamentary debate was “a serious accusation”, said Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat on Thursday (Nov 9).
The video in question was a clip of an exchange during the Presidential Elections Act debate in February.
Mr Perera raised the issue in Parliament on Tuesday, saying Mediacorp had put up the video with “certain bits removed”, and that the broadcaster made a rectification after he communicated with them.
“I do know from past experience that at times, they are edited and are not archived and made available verbatim,” added the WP’s Non-Constituency Member of Parliament.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Mr Chee said: “He (Mr Perera) was clearly implying that Mediacorp had edited Parliamentary footages 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 pointed out that Mediacorp had in fact rectified the clip and put the full exchange online on Feb 18, two days before Mr Perera had emailed the company on Feb 20.
Mediacorp had explained to Mr Perera on the same day of his email that a technical issue had affected the recording, resulting in a truncated recording.
In Parliament on Tuesday, Mr Perera had said that he did not have a specific recollection of dates, but was “quite willing to accept” the timeline of events as Mr Chee had detailed.
“So Mr Perera had known this for several months,” Mr Chee wrote. “Yet when I asked him, he at first repeated the false claim. He said: ‘As a result of that exchange I had with Mediacorp, they removed the video with the truncations and then they uploaded a new video without the truncations.’
“I had to reiterate the facts and remind him what actually happened, before he grudgingly conceded the point.”
He added: “It is surprising that Mr Perera remembered the original ‘editing’ and that he had asked Mediacorp, but ‘forgot’ that Mediacorp told him it was an error which had already been rectified.
“It is part of debate to criticize 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.”
In response to Mr Chee's Facebook post, Mr Perera said he did not state that the footage in question had been edited "in a partisan manner".
"My PQs (parliamentary questions) and SQs (supplementary question) had asked about the ownership of the copyright to Parliamentary video footage and why Parliamentary video live feed cannot be made available as it is in many other countries," Mr Perera wrote on Facebook on Thursday.
Mr Chee had explained in Parliament on Tuesday that video recordings of parliamentary proceedings belong to the Government which in turn commissions Mediacorp to cover the sittings and show the footage on various platforms.
He added that demand in Singapore for a live feed of proceedings is low. For instance, he said viewers who tune in to a major parliamentary speech like the Budget via a live feed is about 10 per cent compared to what was shown on free-to-air television news that same evening.