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Former Singapore diplomat criticizes livestreams of Parliament sessions within minutes of it starting

Bilahari Kausikan wrote on his Facebook page that the move “is a mistake" and that it would compromise genuine transparency

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Singapore — Barely minutes into the first livestream of a Parliamentary session on Monday (Jan 4), a former Singapore diplomat criticized the move, calling it “a mistake”.

In a Facebook post on his own page, Bilahari Kausikan wrote that the move “is a mistake. It will undoubtedly be hailed as a step in the direction of ‘transparency’. But the real effect will not be genuine transparency”.

In a press release on Monday (Jan 4), the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) said that Singapore will begin livestreaming Parliament sessions from that day.

Members of the public can tune in to the original and translated versions of the proceedings in real time on the ministry’s YouTube channel.

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During a Parliamentary sitting in September last year, Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said that the Government had agreed “in principle” to livestream parliamentary sessions.

The intial push for the move for Parliament to be live-streamed came from former nominated MP Anthea Ong and Workers’ Party MP Leon Perera.

In his post, Mr Kausikan said that the immediate effect of having the sessions livestreamed “will be to promote playing to the gallery”.

“To think that playing to the gallery will be recognised as such by the general public, is to expect far too much of human nature. In the long run, it will change the political dynamic in such a way as to incentivise a certain sort of personality to enter politics and not the kind who ought to be a political leader”, he added.

Along with Mr Kausikan, the move was also initially opposed by former Leader of the House Grace Fu, who said that there were other ways for people to go through these sessions, including videos of speeches and exchanges on CNA’s Parliament online microsite. /TISG

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