Parliament Sitting on 3 August 2021

QUESTION FOR ORAL ANSWER


2. Ms He Ting Ru: To ask the Minister for Communications and Information (a) what are the guidelines for the media when approaching those affected by a major traumatic event to avoid interference in their recovery; (b) what special considerations are put in place in relation to minors; and (c) whether there are plans to revise these guidelines.

Answer:

1. When a traumatic incident occurs, students and staff are naturally very affected, and safeguarding their well-being must be the priority. At the same time, we understand the high level of public interest and concern, and appreciate that the media have the important responsibility of accurate news reporting, which can help prevent public panic, rumours or fake news from spreading. I echo Minister Chan’s sentiments during his ministerial statement on 27 July that the media has shown sensitivity and restraint in reporting the River Valley High School incident.

2. When the incident took place, the media were not given access to the school compound and were restricted to public areas outside the school. The media’s understanding was sought not to press students or staff for interviews or take photographs or videos of them in a way that they could be identified. Doing so would have created additional stress for them at an already difficult time. The media were also encouraged to give the school the space to recover from the incident. 

3. In addition, the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has also reminded the mainstream media about the legal protections accorded to those under 18, as part of the Children and Young Person’s Act or CYPA. Under the CYPA, no one is allowed to publish or broadcast information that identifies or is calculated to identify any person below 18 years old who is involved in any court proceedings, including as a witness. This includes not publishing any information that may inadvertently lead to the identification of any persons under the age of 18 who may be involved in subsequent court proceedings.

4. We will continue to engage and work closely with the media to enable them to do their job even amidst such tragedies while prioritising the well-being of those involved.
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