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MPs file slew of questions on SPH Media's inflated circulation numbers for Feb 6 Parliament sitting

SINGAPORE — The inflation of SPH Media Trust's circulation figures will get an airing in Parliament when it sits again on Feb 6, as Members of Parliament (MPs) from various parties have filed questions on the issue.

MPs file slew of questions on SPH Media's inflated circulation numbers for Feb 6 Parliament sitting
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  • MPs from Workers' Party and People's Action Party have filed several questions on the inflation of SPH Media's circulation figures
  • Progress Singapore Party said its MPs will also raise the issue in Parliament
  • SPH Media reported in January that the daily circulation numbers of its titles were found to have been inflated by between 85,000 and 95,000
  • Workers' Party MPs also filed 10 questions on the 2017 Keppel Offshore and Marine corruption case

SINGAPORE — The inflation of SPH Media Trust's circulation figures will get an airing in Parliament when it sits again on Feb 6, as Members of Parliament (MPs) from various parties have filed questions on the issue.

SPH Media said on Jan 9 that the daily circulation numbers of its titles were found to have been inflated by between 85,000 and 95,000, including instances where copies were printed, counted for circulation and then destroyed.

SPH Media is the publisher of newspapers including The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao.

The Workers' Party (WP) posted its list of 17 parliamentary questions for the upcoming seating on its Facebook page on Friday (Jan 20), seven of which are about SPH Media.

Among them is one from Ms He Ting Ru of Sengkang Group Representation Constituency (GRC), who asked Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo whether the people involved in initiating and perpetuating the inflation circulation figures have been referred to the police for further investigations. 

She also asked if there will be actions taken against SPH Media to hold it accountable for the errors.

Fellow party member Gerald Giam of Aljunied GRC wanted to know the total number of newspaper copies that were printed, counted and destroyed by SPH Media or its predecessor company during the entire scheme. 

He also asked for the estimated total weight of paper used and the resultant environmental impact. 

People's Action Party (PAP) MPs have also filed parliamentary questions on the issue, including Mr Darryl David, MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC; and Ms Jessica Tan, MP for East Coast GRC. 

Mr David asked Mrs Teo if the Government could provide insight from the internal report received from SPH Media regarding the alleged inconsistencies in the circulation data. 

He also wanted to know how these inconsistencies could affect the Government's commitment to fund the organisation

Another opposition party, Progress Singapore Party (PSP), has called for an independent inquiry into the case in a post on Facebook, adding that its Non-Constituency MPs will pursue this in Parliament "to continue oversight over public expenditures".

Separately, on Friday, Mrs Teo told reporters in Davos, Switzerland — where she is attending the World Economic Forum — that the matter "will be addressed in Parliament and in due course".

KEPPEL O&M CORRUPTION CASE 

Separately, WP MPs also filed 10 questions on the 2017 Keppel Offshore and Marine corruption case for the Feb 6 parliamentary session.

The case involved six former employees who were the senior management of Keppel O&M and who had allegedly paid bribes amounting to about US$55 million (S$72 million) to officials of Brazilian state-owned oil giant Petrobras between 2001 and 2014 . 

The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) had issued stern warnings on Jan 11 to the six individuals, adding that they would not be charged or prosecuted. As such, they were not publicly named.

This was due to several factors, including the difficulties involved in getting evidence in a complex case involving multiple authorities and witnesses from several countries, CPIB said.

However, WP MPs are seeking more transparency on how CPIB had arrived at this decision, as well as the reasons why the six individuals were not named. 

Mr Leon Perera of Aljunied GRC questioned if the decision not to prosecute the individuals represented a departure from the Government's stated stance of zero tolerance towards corruption. 

Mr Dennis Tan, WP MP for Hougang, asked if it was in the public interest to disclose the names of the former employees, and Mr Giam of Aljunied GRC asked if their ages and nationalities can be revealed. 

Mr Louis Chua of Sengkang GRC also asked Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong which offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1960 had been considered for prosecution for the six individuals, as well as the maximum penalties for such offences. 

Dr Tan Wu Meng, PAP MP for Jurong GRC, has also filed questions on the Keppel O&M case, asking if the reasons for the warnings in lieu of prosecution can be elaborated in Parliament and what is the assessed reputation damage to Singapore arising from the case.

Dr Tan has asked how many warnings and prosecutions CPIB has initiated since 2000.

PSP FILES MOTION ON PUBLIC HOUSING

Public housing will be on the agenda as well during the upcoming parliamentary seating.

In a post published on his personal Facebook account on Friday, PSP's Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai said that he has filed a motion on public housing. 

This was after Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for National Development, responded to his online criticism on the prices of Build-to-Order flats by asking him to "go beyond social media posts" and "file a motion in Parliament" to formally discuss the issue in December last year. 

In his motion, he will call upon the Government to review its housing policies in order to deliver affordable Housing and Development Board flats, protect retirement adequacy and keep public housing inclusive, among other things, Mr Leong said.

"I hope that members on the other side of the House will debate in good faith on the real issues, instead of misrepresenting my arguments or casting aspersions on my motivations," he wrote. 

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