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18 months after Perera-Chee clash, another local asks the govt to bring back live telecasts of parliamentary sessions

A citizen makes a case for public real-time view into parliament sessions.

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A Singaporean has asked the government to bring back live telecasts of parliamentary sessions, in a forum letter published by the national broadsheet on Tuesday (May 7).

Noting that parliamentary sessions were telecast live in the past, Mr Pavithran Vidyadharan said that the “practice was suddenly ceased for unknown reasons” and Singapore residents can only see “edited versions” of sessions on the news today.

Asserting that live telecasts of sessions are beneficial because the public can access proceedings immediately from the comfort of their homes and because of the educational value it would offer to aspiring parliamentarians, Pavithran said that live telecasts would also help showcase the civility of Singapore’s parliament to the rest of the world.

He also said that live telecasts would help ordinary citizens “see how our Members of Parliament and ministers present topics of national interest, how they debate and refine the Bills, and later adopt them for implementation as laws.”

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He added: “By re-introducing live telecasts, voters would be able to see at first hand the performance of their elected MPs in Parliament.”

Live telecasts of parliamentary proceedings has been somewhat of a hot topic in Singapore in recent years. Last January, another forum letter writer had also urged authorities to implement live telecasts of sessions. He had noted:

“Live telecasts would allow Singaporeans access to Parliament, hence putting public pressure on parliamentarians to be accountable, for instance, sticking to statements made by them in and out of Parliament, or being cognisant of the details of any cases they bring up.”

Pavithran’s latest forum letter comes about a year and a half after Worker’s Party (WP) member Leon Perera clashed in parliament with Senior Minister of State Chee Hong Tat over the issue of live telecasts of parliamentary proceedings.

On Nov 7, 2017, Perera – a Non-Constituency Member of Parliament – raised a question on the ownership of copyright to the video recordings of parliamentary recordings. 

Chee, a ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) member, responded that the government owns this copyright and commissions national broadcaster Mediacorp to record, and upload video footages of parliamentary proceedings to the Channel NewsAsia’s Parliament microsite.

On why live telecasts of parliamentary proceedings are not made available when other countries like Japan, Taiwan and the United States provide that service, Chee said there is no great demand for a live feed and that there is no need to look for imaginary problems when no problems exist and when the status quo has worked well so far.

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