Concern over curb on newsmen at Parliament


Source: The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: A group of major local journalist organisations have decried the restrictions on the number of journalists allowed to cover Parliamentary proceedings, saying it will severely hamper their ability to perform their duties.

The groups raised their concern over the decision to limit each news agency to just three journalists to cover the proceedings.

“The decision was made supposedly due to critical working space constraints as a result of ongoing renovation work, scheduled for completion only in 2018.

“The decision, however, could be construed as an attempt to limit coverage of Parlia­mentary proceedings and stifle freedom of the press,” the groups added in a joint statement.

The groups were concerned that if the regulation was not applied to some media organisations, it could be speculated that Parliament “is not facilitating fair and free access to all media, a key cornerstone in the democratic process”.

“Given the fact that renovation work will be ongoing over the next few years, the restriction will make it unfeasible for the media agencies to effectively carry out their primary duties of informing the public,” they stated.

The groups jointly urged Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Aza­lina Othman, who is in charge of parliamentary affairs, and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia to lift the restriction and help facilitate media coverage of Parlia­mentary proceedings.

The joint statement was released by the National Union of Journalists, Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm), Institute of Journalists Malaysia, Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia, Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia and Malaysian Press Photographers Association.

On Thursday, Parliament limited the number of media personnel to only three representatives from each organisation to cover its sitting, citing space constraints from upgrading works at the Parliament complex.

The issue over space constraints faced by media covering parliamentary proceedings had been previously raised by Pandikar, who had suggested the limitation while at dinner with media personnel.