Grace Fu asks NMP Leon Perera to withdraw 'false allegations'
House Leader asks the WP NCMP to do so in Parliament next Monday over 'false allegations'
Leader of the House Grace Fu yesterday wrote to Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera, asking him to withdraw his "false allegations" that Mediacorp deliberately edited parliamentary footage of a debate on changes to the elected presidency.
She also called on Mr Perera to apologise at the parliamentary sitting next Monday for misrepresenting the facts and misleading Parliament during a sitting on Nov 7 last year.
"I hope that having had time to reflect on the matter, you will do the right thing and set a correct example for maintaining clean and honest politics in Singapore," she wrote.
When contacted, Mr Perera said he is considering the most appropriate response.
In her letter copied to Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, Ms Fu set out the sequence of events before and after Mr Perera's exchange with Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Chee Hong Tat on Nov 7.
In that exchange, Mr Perera claimed that Mediacorp had removed "certain bits" from a video on a debate last February.
He also alleged Mediacorp rectified the omission only after he had intervened in an e-mail to the broadcaster.
But Mr Chee pointed out in the same sitting that these allegations are untrue, having checked with Mediacorp on the nature and timeline of Mr Perera's correspondence.
In response, Mr Perera said he was prepared to accept this once he verified it with his e-mail archive, and it "could well be" the case as Mr Chee had described it.
Mr Perera also said he brought up the anecdote about Mediacorp to establish whether or not there was any editing of parliamentary footage that is occasionally done.
Ms Fu, who is also Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, noted in her letter that Mr Perera e-mailed Mediacorp on Feb 20 about the video.
He was told that a technical glitch had affected the recording and the full clip was put online two days earlier, on Feb 18.
Mr Perera replied on Feb 21 and accepted Mediacorp's explanation, Ms Fu said.
But on Nov 7, Mr Perera cited the incident as an example of Mediacorp deliberately editing parliamentary footage, with "misleading facts", she added.
Ms Fu said Mr Perera's allegations are a serious matter as they amount to "a misrepresentation of facts and if left uncorrected, a misleading of Parliament".
While MPs enjoy parliamentary privilege to speak freely in Parliament and surface views from the public, they must be careful with facts, she wrote.
"They must not misuse this privilege to misrepresent facts or make unfounded allegations. This will lower the standing of MPs and the Parliament, and undermine the integrity of our political system."
She called on Mr Perera to make a statement at the end of question time next Monday that his allegations were untrue, withdraw them in full and apologise.
Asked why Ms Fu sent the letter nearly two months after the sitting, a Ministry of Communications and Information spokesman said that as Mr Perera made the allegations in Parliament, the right forum to clear the matter would be in the House.
This is not the first time the Leader of the House has asked MPs to withdraw their allegations and apologise for misrepresentation.
In 2009, former People's Action Party MP Sin Boon Ann criticised The Straits Times for its reporting of the Aware saga - in which a group of new members defeated long-time Association of Women for Action and Research members in elections during its Annual General Meeting.
He cited an e-mail he received from a person unknown to him that he had not verified but "would not be surprised if it were true and would be very concerned if it is".
Mr Sin apologised the next day in Parliament for a lack of due diligence, and then Leader of the House Mah Bow Tan issued a reminder to all MPs to not rely on unsupported 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 then Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the Public Transport Council had deliberately misled Parliament and Singaporeans.