Public can now watch livestream of S'pore Parliament sessions from Jan. 4

Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran previously said that the government agreed in-principle to the livestreaming of parliamentary proceedings.

Matthias Ang | January 04, 2021, 01:17 PM

Singapore will begin livestreaming Parliamentary sessions, starting with the sitting today, on Jan. 4, the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) announced in a statement.

The livestream will be made available to the public in real-time via MCI's YouTube channel, on top of existing channels such as the online Hansard at the Parliament website, or watching the proceedings in-person from the Strangers' Gallery.

Government had previously agreed to streaming in-principle

Previously in Sep. 2020, Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said that the government agreed in-principle to the livestreaming of parliamentary proceedings to deepen engagement with Singaporeans.

However, he also added that there were reservations about possible drawbacks.

He said:

"We have been reluctant to go further, for both practical and policy reasons. Demand for such live broadcasts, even of major speeches, is generally low. Only 10 per cent of that are free to air television news, for example, and Parliament is a forum for serious debate on national issues. The debate in Parliament should be vigorous, but the tone should be sober."

Pritam: Those who play to the gallery will be found out

In response, Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh said his colleagues have reflected on the government's reservations, but they believe that if Parliament is turned into "theatre", the public will be fairly quick to conclude who is there to put on theatrics and who is there to be serious about the discussions.

This drew Iswaran's reply that the experience of other countries with live streamed Parliament does not give a lot of "reason to be optimistic" with regard to the tone of the debate.

He said while it does not necessarily mean that the live stream is the reason for the element of theatre, it is on the members to maintain decorum while holding vigorous debates.

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