Parliament: WP's Leon Perera apologises, withdraws statements on Mediacorp's editing of parliamentary footage

House Leader Grace Fu acknowledged and thanked Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera for the apology.
House Leader Grace Fu acknowledged and thanked Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera for the apology. PHOTO: GOV.SG/LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera apologised to Parliament on Monday (Jan 8) for statements he made last November about Mediacorp's editing of parliamentary footage.

He said that as events turned out, his "memory of the incident was inaccurate" and he did not deliberately mislead Parliament.

Said Mr Perera: "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."

He added: "I did not deliberately misrepresent facts or deliberately mislead the House for whatever reason."

Mr Perera said he had only brought up the case when asked by Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat to give an example of any "editing" done during a Parliament sitting on Nov 7.

The main thrust of his question was the ownership of parliamentary footage, which Mr Chee had explained, said Mr Perera.

House Leader Grace Fu acknowledged and thanked Mr Perera for the apology, adding she did not want to "read too much" into whether his intentions were deliberate.

 

"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," said Ms Fu, who sent a letter to Mr Perera last week asking him to apologise.

"Statements that are wrongly made in this House deserve to be retracted if it is 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," added Ms Fu, who is also Minister for Culture, Community and Youth.

On Nov 7, Mr Perera and Mr Chee had an exchange over the editing of parliamentary footage.

Mr Perera said Mediacorp had removed "certain bits" from a video on a debate in February 2017.

He also said Mediacorp rectified the omission only after he had intervened in an e-mail to the broadcaster, prefacing the episode with "if my memory serves me well".

Mr Chee had countered that his statements were untrue, having checked with Mediacorp on the nature and timeline of Mr Perera's correspondence with the organisation.

Mr Perera had replied that he was prepared to accept it after he had verified the point in his e-mail archive, adding it could well be the case as described by Mr Chee.

This is not the first time MPs have been asked to apologise for statements made in Parliament.

In 2009, former People’s Action Party MP Sin Boon Ann (Tampines GRC) had criticised The Straits Times for its reporting of the Aware saga, citing an e-mail he received from a person unknown to him which he had not verified, but “would not be surprised if it were true and would be very concerned if it is”.

Mr Sin apologised for his lack of due diligence the next day in Parliament. Then Leader of the House Mah Bow Tan later issued a stern reminder to all MPs to not rely on unsubstantiated allegations.

In 2002, former Speaker of Parliament and then East Coast MP Tan Soo Khoon apologised for suggesting in a speech on transport fare hikes that Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Public Transport Council had deliberately misled Parliament and Singaporeans.