Ridiculous Chee-Perera debate proves Perera was right on Parliament footage

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By Howard Lee

Can anyone remember what happened in Parliament last week between Chee Hong Tat and Leon Perera?

If your answer is, “Chee bitch-slapped Perera for not declaring conflict of interest and for lying about Mediacorp skewing Parliament footage”, you’ve just proved that Perera was absolutely right.

Here’s the quick run-down. Chee, Senior Minister of State for Health and Communication and Information, fielded two separate questions from Perera, a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament from the opposition Workers’ Party. The first related to the government’s position on e-cigarettes as therapy to get smokers off their tobacco fixes; and the second relate to public access to video records of Parliament debates, the archives which are currently held by Mediacorp.

Media highlights of the debate showed Chee questioning Perera’s business interest in the e-cigarette business, to which Perera refuted and voiced strong objection to the SMS’s barely-veiled insinuations. On Mediacorp’s copyright to Parliament footage, Chee pointed out that the public can use Mediacorp’s videos for “personal and non-commercial purposes with attribution to Mediacorp”.

Chee then later queried Perera on his exchange with Mediacorp to highlight that Mediacorp has already amended a video that Perera said was truncated, to which Perera conceded could have been possible.

It did not end there. Chee continued to hound Perera on his Facebook page, alleging that Perera made “a serious accusation” by “implying that Mediacorp had edited Parliamentary footages in a partisan manner”. Perera responded to refute Chee’s allegations, and the whole social media cold war was published in national media.

Insinuations! Accusations! Excitement! All very interesting. But what was the issue about, again?

Let’s get back to the points of contention: the government’s position on e-cigarettes as therapy for smokers and Mediacorp’s copyright access to Parliamentary footage. Did Chee answer the questions? If he did, what were the answers and where are the records?

We don’t really know. What is hogging the headlines now is Perera supposedly accusing Mediacorp of partisanship. Such a claim is, of course, completely preposterous, and Perera was right in dismissing Chee’s accusations (again). But before the public can check Hansard, the spectacle has already taken on a life of its own, negating all other interest in the issues raised.

In fact, what Perera was after was fairly straight-forward: why can’t Parliament debates be published in full for public consumption?

In granting Mediacorp monopoly to Parliamentary debate, the public is effectively at Mediacorp’s mercy, knowing only what Mediacorp chooses to let the public see. Much of this is couched as “news sense”, or what Chee might call editing for brevity. We should not deny Mediacorp from doing its job of distilling the important from the frivolous, but when that news sense is geared towards the sensational bickering in Parliament, as this case has proven to be, the public is left wondering exactly what the fight in the august chambers was about and what was its true value to voters who have placed their trust in their MPs to speak on their behalf. It risks devaluing Parliament, as much as give fuel for the public to desecrate Mediacorp for being partisan.

The only solution is to publish full unedited records of Parliament debates, so the public will always have a reliable source to check against Mediacorp’s news sense, and also to evaluate if their MPs are worth the votes they have been given. Any serious democracy would do that, if it values citizens’ participation in matters of public interest. With technology, it is not even difficult – the UK Parliament, for all its shortcomings, publish lengthy records of debates on its website. Singapore, one of the most wired nations in the world, should not fall short.

As it currently stands in the public eye, Chee might have won in the battle of words against Perera, but the episode proves that all he has done was, intentionally or not, shift the focus of the debate. It does not reflect well on the aptitude and attitude of a Senior Minister of State. Without unedited Parliament records available for public viewing, Mediacorp’s monopoly of Parliament footage remains a major disservice to the nation, and there is no good reason for it to be this way.

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43 comments

  1. Do you really think mediacorp will broadcast everything ? Ya… everything that shows beneficial to PAP ….
    Else … just snap snap snap cos it is not for the nation to know ..

  2. It is the inalienable right of every voting citizen to know what and how their elected representatives are presenting or talking in Parliament. The reason is well known to all and I don’t have to emphasise it further.
    Parliament belongs to the People and not any duly registered political party which happen to controls the majority seats.
    To say or even suggest that the tapes are Government property is an admission that it belongs to the People.
    The Government is of the People and by the People.
    FULL STOP

  3. White pants is defensive becos they know its wrong to withhold video of parliamentary sessions… Trying to cover and protect themselves knowing public is scrutinising them. Sad people these white pants.. Lost all dignity.. Can we trust them anymore?

  4. People who have common sense should really wonder why opposition party is not afraid to publish debate video live and allow the WP MP to be “embarrassed” by the so call very talented PAP ministers that this govt always claim without them, singapore would collapse. ‍♂️And also demonstrate the PAP intelligence and geniuses in the debate‍♂️. WHY

  5. As the world advances, we are stuck in 1984. Perhaps we need an Orwell to dissect vacuous and diversionary speeches such as Chee’s. But do we have a Safire or a Dawd in ST? Oh, only hacks and pretenders of dissent.

  6. Diploma holders,be it engineering,IT, or whatever stupid courses are offered,end up more than 90% working not related to what they learned. Worst most of ‘backdoor elected ministers’also are there when paper qualifications is not relevant at all. So to hide their stupidity,they dont dare to show parlimentary debates lives and all questions needs to SUBMIT first. Hahaha. This is not debates. Loves watching Malysian parliments seating where all the stupid questions and answers with no hold bars. Sometimes bad word are said. Here to speak ‘FREELY’ must have permits and only at HL park where in Parliments permission or questions all are mostly scripted

  7. Lim LG says:

    HOPEFULLY NEXT GE MORE DAFT SG COULD WAKE UP.

    IF TRULY WANT TO HV CHANGES IN SG, DON’T DISCUSS AND STOP HERE. THINGS WILL NEVER CHANGE AT ALL.

    MUST SPREAD AND TALK AND DISCUSS WITH YR FAMILY MEMBERS, YR FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES TO MAKE THEM MORE AWARE OF ROTTON GOVT.

    INTRODUCE YR FAMILY MEMBERS, COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS TO VARIOUS CONSTRUCTIVE FB PLATFORMS TO READ AND KNOW MORE.

    ONLY THEN, MORE AND MORE PPL ARE AWARE IN ORDER TO MAKE CHANGES.

  8. Mike Yeo says:

    No demand? Dude!!!! It’s the right of every citizen to know what transpires in parliament. They are not some secret cadre who determines everything and we have to choke it down.

    Gone are the days where the government needed extraordinary powers to Ensure the survival of our nation.

    We are not the Israel of South East Asia and the red dot in a sea of green. Gone are the days where workers rights had to be quashed because without the tripartite movement, no one will invest.

    They have to change or we have to change them

    1. Lim LG says:

      “NOT ASKING FOR OPPO GOVT”? SO YOU STILL WANT THE ROTTON PAP TO BE GOVT?

      DO YOU KNOW THAT MANY OF THE SUGGESTIONS AND IDEAS CAME LITERALLY FROM OPPO, WHICH THE ROTTON PAP MINISTERS HAD STOLEN THEM TO THEIR CREDIT?

      I’M MORE INTERESTED TOWARDS TOPPLING ROTTON GOVT TO ENSURE “SMOOTH” CHANGES WITHOUT HV TO ARGUE WITH ROTTON PAP.

    2. Gan Dan says:

      We just need to get more balances and checks in Parliament. Remove their stronghold on the majority. Vote more oppo members in. We are not asking for a oppo government, we just need LESS YES MEN in Parliament.

      Otherwise one day, you will wake up and realise the CPF withdrawal age has been raised to 70 or even 75, and THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT.

  9. Ah Soh says:

    Answerng question with red herrings and innuendos are their forte. In this way listeners although catch no ball but carried away by the flowery and colourful speeches.

  10. Low Sk says:

    If the majority of Singaporeans do not wake up to the realities of politics dabble by the PAP, especially it’s blatant abuse of power, such things will continue unabated !

  11. Nasir Bj says:

    PAP has make a mockery of our Parliamentary system! No cannot bring up nor debate really issue ! Only issue that PAP seem fit to debate and all of the time the debate just for show !!

    1. Lim LG says:

      HOPEFULLY NEXT GE MORE DAFT SG COULD WAKE UP.

      IF TRULY WANT TO HV CHANGES IN SG, DON’T DISCUSS AND STOP HERE. THINGS WILL NEVER CHANGE AT ALL.

      MUST SPREAD AND TALK AND DISCUSS WITH YR FAMILY MEMBERS, YR FRIENDS, COLLEAGUES TO MAKE THEM MORE AWARE OF ROTTON GOVT.

      INTRODUCE YR FAMILY MEMBERS, COLLEAGUES AND FRIENDS TO VARIOUS CONSTRUCTIVE FB PLATFORMS TO READ AND KNOW MORE.

      ONLY THEN, MORE AND MORE PPL ARE AWARE IN ORDER TO MAKE CHANGES.

  12. Lim LG says:

    JUST INSTRUCT MEDIACORPSE TO TELECAST IT TO QUELL ALL MISUNDERSTANDINGS, CONFUSIONS, ETC

    HOW COME HE COULD NOT THINK OF THIS WAY? RATHER THAN WASTING TIME

    SHOWS CHEE HT HAS “NO SUBSTANCE”

    DAFT SINGAPOREANS TRULY HAD WASTED THEIR VOTES AND ALSO WASTING TAXPAYERS’ MONIES TO PAY ALL THESE CRONY MIW WAYANG PERFORMERS” HIGHEST PAID POLITICIAN SALARIES IN THE WORLD”

  13. So the public will not use the current spoken words be used for future reference against any political parties in future.
    We know today what we heard will be directly opposite of what they will do in future.

  14. Peter Lim says:

    No answer from Chee Hong, he either did not know how to answer or did not want to answer that is why he is so evasive and going off on a tangent; trying to throw red herrings to avoid answering the simple question!

Comments are closed.