Parliament Sidelights: Was Seah Kian Peng referring to Leon Perera?

SINGAPORE - Mr Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade GRC) was speaking about the dangers of deliberate online falsehoods during Wednesday's (Jan 10) parliamentary debate on the motion to appoint a select committee on the issue.

But one could be forgiven for wondering if he was also alluding to Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera.

Mr Perera apologised on Monday for misleading the House after he was taken to task for incorrectly claiming that Mediacorp had edited parliamentary footage.

Arguing on Wednesday for the need for regulations against fake news, Mr Seah said it will help prevent cases of people hiding behind the excuse of "honest mistakes".

"We make claims, and then when proven false, apologise and say, well we are only human. We did not intend to mislead, to misrepresent, our memories are faulty," said Mr Seah.

His statement was reminiscent of Mr Perera's apology, in which he said his "memory of the incident was inaccurate".

During last November's sitting, Mr Perera had said that Mediacorp had edited parliamentary footage of a debate on the elected presidency, and only fixed the issue after he pointed it out in an e-mail.

It turned out that the broadcaster had explained to him that the original footage had been plagued by recording issues, but was already replaced before his e-mail.

In retracting his statement on Monday, Mr Perera also said he had not deliberately misled Parliament.

In his speech on the spread of falsehoods, Mr Seah said "intentions aside, we all know that the consequences matter".

He said the select committee's review on how Singapore should tackle fake news will raise the bar for accuracy in public discourse and "reduce the instances of being reckless with the truth".

"We are all imperfect beings, and hence need to show that we have taken due care when we engage in public debates," he said.

Parliament Sidelights is an occasional blog on what goes on in the House.