Non-Constituency Member of Parliament (NCMP) Leon Perera of the opposition Workers’ Party (WP) has apologised to Parliament for his remarks about national broadcaster Mediacorp’s editing of parliamentary footage, even while denying he had intended to mislead the House.
“I apologise to the House for any mistaken impression created by my failure of memory. I agree that parliamentary privilege is a privilege that should never be taken lightly. However, I did not deliberately misrepresent facts or deliberately mislead the House for whatever reason,” said Perera in Parliament on Monday (8 January).
His apology comes after Leader of the House Grace Fu wrote to Perera last week saying that his “allegations” amounted to a “misrepresentation of facts and if left uncorrected, a misleading of Parliament”. She therefore called on him to apologise to the House.
On Monday, Perera put his comments down to his faulty recollection of the chain of events in his correspondence with Mediacorp.
“I would now like to definitively withdraw my earlier statements to the effect that the video had been edited with certain bits removed, and that the video had been edited and only corrected after my intervention. I confirm that Mediacorp had explained this to me in February 2017, and that I had accepted that.”
Pressed by Fu on whether he had indeed made false allegations against Mediacorp and subsequently misled the House, Perera responded, “I do agree that that the statements were inaccurate and indeed misled the House, but it was not my intention to make an allegation against Mediacorp of having done partisan editing of that clip.”
In ending the exchange, Fu said, “MPs are given parliamentary privilege to speak freely and surface different views, but this must not be misused to misrepresent facts or mislead Parliament.”
I hope this serves as a timely reminder for all members of the House of the high standards of integrity and honesty that we expect in this House.”
Background to the apology
During a parliamentary session on 7 November last year, Perera had asked Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat which entity owns the copyright to the video recordings of parliamentary proceedings.
During the exchange, the NCMP also asked why a corporate entity like Mediacorp is given “so much power to choose what to put up, when to put it up, when to take it down, how to edit it before presentation”.
He added, “I do know from past experience that at times, they are edited and are not archived and made available verbatim.” As an example, Perera noted that a clip of an exchange during the Presidential Elections Act debate early last year was put up with “certain bits removed”.
“I actually communicated with Mediacorp and through the correspondence, they made a rectification and put up a different clip, so that was resolved quite amicably,” Perera said.
However, Chee later pointed out in a Facebook post that Mediacorp had rectified the clip and put the full exchange online on 18 February, two days before Perera emailed the company. “He (Mr Perera) was clearly implying that Mediacorp had edited Parliamentary footages in a partisan manner,” Chee said.