My clarification on the Al-Jazeera issue

I (Ravi Philemon) wrote the following letter to The Straits Times forum page but it was not published.

---My Letter---

I was the person interviewed and featured in the Al-Jazeera news clip.

I was however interviewed in my capacity as a community worker, volunteering among the people who are homeless in Singapore. I was not asked about the specific couple. In the interview, I spoke in general and said that people become homeless for various reasons and that even if they had made mistakes, they have got to be given second chances.

As a volunteer I have neither the capacity nor the resources to fact-check every story thoroughly. Sometimes, the government departments we call to verify certain information, do not even reply to us, which makes fact-checking even more difficult.

Under such circumstances, I together with other individual volunteers, offer whatever assistance we can.

Besides distributing essential items for survival and important phone numbers, we often refer them back to their own MPs, welfare organisations serving the people who are homeless and even the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS).

In the Al-Jazeera news clip, they mentioned that they had requested for an interview with MCYS, which was declined. Perhaps, the mis-representation could have been avoided if Al-Jazeera had been granted their request.