Leon Perera apologises, withdraws statements on Mediacorp's editing

MP LEON PERERA
MP LEON PERERAPHOTOS: GOV.SG/YOUTUBE
GRACE FU
GRACE FU PHOTOS: GOV.SG/YOUTUBE

Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera apologised to Parliament yesterday for saying last November that Mediacorp had edited parliamentary footage, adding that he did not deliberately mislead the House.

As events turned out, he said, his "memory of the incident was inaccurate".

His apology came in response to a letter last week from Leader of the House Grace Fu, who asked him to to withdraw his allegations that Mediacorp had deliberately edited footage of a debate.

Mr Perera had said during the Parliament sitting on Nov 7 that Mediacorp had omitted "certain bits" from a video of a debate on the elected presidency in February last year. He had also said the broadcaster rectified the issue only after he had intervened in an e-mail.

Retracting this yesterday, he said: "I would now like to definitively withdraw my earlier statements to the effect that the video had been edited with certain bits removed, and corrected after my intervention. I confirm that Mediacorp had explained this to me, and I had accepted that."

It turned out that the footage originally uploaded by the broadcaster had been plagued by recording issues, but it was already replaced before Mr Perera's e-mail.

NO DELIBERATE INTENTION

I would now like to definitively withdraw my earlier statements to the effect that the video had been edited with certain bits removed, and corrected after my intervention. I confirm that Mediacorp had explained this to me and I had accepted that... I did not deliberately misrepresent facts or deliberately mislead the House for whatever reason.

WORKERS' PARTY NON-CONSTITUENCY MP LEON PERERA


TRUST IN THE HOUSE

The MPs are given parliamentary privilege to speak freely and surface different views, but this must not be misused to misrepresent facts or mislead the Parliament... Statements that are wrongly made in this House deserve to be retracted if they are indeed untrue, so that members can benefit from the discussion and restore trust in each other's statement in this House. Only in that way, we can have a useful and effective discussion in this House.

HOUSE LEADER GRACE FU

Mr Perera said yesterday: "I did not deliberately misrepresent facts or deliberately mislead the House for whatever reason."

He added that he had brought up the example only because Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat had asked him for examples of edited parliamentary footage.

Mr Chee was responding to Mr Perera's parliamentary question on whether Mediacorp's parliamentary footage can be made freely available to people.

Recounting the exchange, Mr Perera said it showed he did not intend to deliberately mislead the House, for instance he had said he was prepared to accept the version of events as stated by Mr Chee.

Mr Chee had said after checking with Mediacorp that Mr Perera was told the omission was due to a recording fault.

Ms Fu, thanking Mr Perera for the apology, said she did not want to "read too much" into whether his intentions were deliberate, adding: "The MPs are given parliamentary privilege to speak freely and surface different views, but this must not be misused to misrepresent facts or mislead the Parliament."

"Statements that are wrongly made in this House deserve to be retracted if they are indeed untrue, so that members can benefit from the discussion and restore trust in each other's statement in this House. Only in that way, we can have a useful and effective discussion in this House," said Ms Fu, who is also Minister for Culture, Community and Youth.

MPs from both sides of the House have been taken to task in the past over misleading or offensive statements made in Parliament.

For instance, former People's Action Party MP Sin Boon Ann apologised in 2009 for citing an unverified e-mail criticising The Straits Times, while former Speaker of Parliament Tan Soo Khoon apologised in 2002 for suggesting that the Government had deliberately misled Parliament over transport fare hikes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 09, 2018, with the headline 'Leon Perera apologises, withdraws statements on Mediacorp's editing'. Print Edition | Subscribe