Thursday, October 27, 2011

Make Parliament More Accessible


Parliament sat to debate the President's Address from 17 October 2011 to 21 October 2011. It has been [about] five days since the debates ended. It is clear that the mainstream media has failed to provide comprehensive coverage of the debates.

For example, Parliament provides a link on its website to a special page for Parliament on Channel NewsAsia. Yet, when one accesses that link, one finds many speeches or exchanges involving Members of Parliament over the week are not even there.

From alternative sources like the Facebook pages of relevant Members of Parliament, it is clear that a good number of Members of Parliament received almost little or no coverage.

Either the editors of these mainstream media outlets felt that such speeches were not newsworthy or it was just impractical to do so (more likely the latter).

As an aged lawyer and Saint, you must appreciate the value of providing Singaporeans unfettered access to developments in the highest law-making organ of this country.

Without meaning to disrespect your wisdom on this front, I only wish to add that the benefits of such access far outweigh the costs associated with it.

In this regard, while I note and appreciate that members of the public already have hassle-free access to the public galleries of Parliament, I have a number of suggestions that I hope you will consider:

a. Set up a channel on Starhub, Mio TV or the Internet to provide live streaming or coverage, when Parliament sits;

b. Make available uncensored recordings (preferably with subtitles) of Parliamentary proceedings on parliamentary website within a day of any Parliamentary sitting; and/or

c. Publish parliamentary reports on the Singapore Law Watch website as soon as these become available.

I hope your team and you can look into these possibilities, among others, of making parliamentary proceedings more accessible or connected to lay persons like me.

Notwithstanding that you were the current Prime Minister's second choice as Speaker of Parliament, I am hopeful that your legacy as Speaker will be a Parliament of many firsts.

Dharmendra Yadav

Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this? Feel free to react below or leave a comment.

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