PETALING JAYA: The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has condemned the Dewan Rakyat Speaker’s ban on journalists at the lobby of Parliament.
NUJ president Mohd Taufek Razak said the speaker’s ban was akin to obstructing journalists from carrying out their duties and obtaining direct access to parliament proceedings.
“We condemn such restrictions because this shows Malaysia does not practise media freedom and this incident should not have happened in Parliament, which is the symbol of democracy,” he said in a statement today.
“As long as journalists do not violate the rules of Parliament, the ban may be considered a crackdown on journalists from accessing any information worthy of news,” he said.
Commenting on the issue, a former senior journalist, Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, questioned the rationale for the ban. He said journalists covering Parliament had a right to be at the lobby to do their work.
“Journalists have to follow up on issues every day. They cannot wait for press conferences to ask questions from ministers and MPs,” he told FMT.
He added that as long as reporters were not a nuisance or caused a disturbance, there was no reason to stop them from doing their jobs.
Earlier today, Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia barred reporters from the lobby of Parliament.
He said many MPs felt uncomfortable as the lobby had become crowded and almost like a “picnic place”.
Pandikar added that reporters would now be allowed to cover sittings from the media centre one floor down.
Syed Nadzri said it was unfair for the speaker to brand the Parliament lobby a “picnic place”. “We are there to get the stories. Simple as that.”
He added that if the speaker and MPs did not want coverage of Parliament sittings, they should just stop the coverage entirely.