SINGAPORE: Singapore will begin livestreaming Parliament sessions from Monday’s (Jan 4) sitting, said the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) in a press release.
Members of the public can tune in to the original and translated versions of the proceedings in real time on the ministry's YouTube channel.
At last September’s Parliament sitting, Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said that the Government had agreed “in principle” to livestream parliamentary sessions.
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His announcement came five months after former Leader of the House Grace Fu rebuffed calls to air these sessions live, pointing out that there were other ways for people to go through these sessions, including videos of speeches and exchanges on CNA's Parliament online microsite.
These existing channels will continue to be available, said MCI. Members of the public can watch proceedings in-person from the Strangers’ Gallery, view videos on the CNA microsite and read the full written record of parliamentary proceedings on the Hansard system of the Parliament website.
Mr Iswaran said in Parliament on Monday that the full video of each livestream will remain on the ministry’s YouTube channel for six months.
For now, there will be no sign language option available, but captions will automatically appear on the English livestream, Mr Iswaran added.
As for whether livestreaming the proceedings will affect the "quality and tone" of debates, Mr Iswaran said the responsibility rests with parliamentarians to continue to “uphold the highest standards of conduct and decorum”.
“The Government has agreed to this (livestreaming) in view of the global and technological trends, which have made online streaming more feasible and enabled legislators around the world to livestream their proceedings,” Mr Iswaran said.
“Even as we seek deeper engagement of our citizens through the livestreaming of parliamentary proceedings, we must preserve the integrity and dignity of Parliament as a forum for serious debate on national issues.”
Monday’s parliamentary sitting began at 1.30pm.
The COVID-19 situation is on the agenda, with co-chairs of the multi-ministry task force - Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and Education Minister Lawrence Wong - set to delivery ministerial statements that include a third update on the Government's pandemic response.
Members of Parliament, including Dr Lim Wee Kiak, Mr Lim Biow Chuan, Ms Foo Mee Har and Ms Sylvia Lim have asked about vaccination.
A variety of other COVID-19-related topics are also set to be discussed, including how Singapore plans to deal with the highly infectious variant of the coronavirus that was found in the UK and the Government's current strategy to progressively reopen the economy.