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Government agrees in principle to the live streaming of Parliamentary proceedings

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Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran said yesterday that the Government agrees, in principle, to the live streaming of Parliamentary proceedings.

His ministry will study the technical and implementation details and will make an announcement of the details soon.

Previously the government had rejected calls for live streaming because every speech and exchange is recorded and made available online. Video clips are uploaded within hours of each sitting. The Hansard also provides a full written record of parliamentary proceedings and is available online. Anyone can also watch the proceedings in person from the Strangers’ Gallery.

Mr Iswaran said the government had been reluctant to go further with live streaming for both practical and policy reasons.

Demand is generally low for such live broadcasts, even of major speeches; only 10% of that of free-to-air television news.

Parliament is a forum for serious debate on national issues, Mr Iswaran said.

The debate must be vigorous and the tone sober.

“An element of cut-and-thrust is unavoidable, even necessary because Members want to show Singaporeans that their concerns are expressed, and questions asked and answered in Parliament,” he said. “However, it is equally important that Members must come to grips with the issues and their complexities and not simply play to the gallery.”

“Live broadcasts risk compromising this,” he added.

While his reservations remain, Mr Iswaran noted the global and technological trends which have made online streaming commonplace, and seen legislatures live streaming their proceedings in many countries.

The Government, therefore, agrees in principle to the live streaming of Parliamentary proceedings,” he said.

“Our aim, as always, will be to achieve transparency, accountability and accessibility while preserving the integrity and dignity of Parliamentary proceedings.”

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