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Law Minister apologises to veteran journalist for erroneous reference in parliamentary speech

"The Minister apologised to me for the error. He said none of his comments were intended to refer to me," said Bertha Henson

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Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam appears to have apologised to veteran journalist Bertha Henson for making an “erroneous” reference to one of her articles in the footnotes of his recent parliamentary statement on hate speech.

In a blog post yesterday (2 Apr), Henson wrote that she had noticed that a statement the Minister made denouncing online commentators who perpetuate the notion of a ‘Christian conspiracy’ referred to an article she had written.

The Minister said: “Now, some commentators online have also made dark suggestions of a Christian conspiracy. ‘They have a hold on the Government, the Government bows to their power, and there is an over-representation of Christians in institutions of power’. They tried to turn it into a ‘Christians versus Others’ debate. These people are nasty, opportunistic, and dangerous.”

The footnotes to this statement included a link to an article Henson had written, giving the illusion that she is one of these “nasty, opportunistic, and dangerous” online commentators who push the notion of a ‘Christian conspiracy’.

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Asserting that she is “NOT “nasty, opportunistic and dangerous,”” Henson wrote on her blog: “I am not someone who takes such comments lying down, even if they are opinions. Opinions must be based on the facts or an ordinary man’s reading of the article in question.”

Revealing that she reached out to the Minister directly for clarification, Henson shared that the Minister apologised to her for the erroneous reference and clarified that none of his comments were intended to refer to her:

“So  I asked Mr Shanmugam this morning why was there a reference to me.
“He looked at it and said it was an error to have referred to me. He had originally, in his speech had referred to something I had said in my blog, and responded to it. But then in the final speech, he decided that it was not necessary to do so. He thus took out his response to me from the text of the speech. But the footnote referring to me was (erroneously) not taken out. So I was unfortunately lumped with others whom he specifically responded to.
“The Minister apologised to me for the error. He said none of his comments were intended to refer to me.”

Henson, a former Straits Times heavyweight, added: “I have always prided myself on taking the middle ground in my columns and to be more centrist in my arguments. I thank the minister for his response and would like to ask that this post be shared liberally to clarify the matter.”

Read her statement in full HERE. /TISG

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