KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — Banning media personnel from Parliament’s lobby is akin to stopping access to information, the National Union of Journalist (NUJ) said in response to the Dewan Rakyat Speaker’s sudden decision today.
NUJ president Mohd Taufek Razak added that such a ban suggests Malaysia curbs media freedom as it was a move to prevent journalists from obtaining direct access on information from the Parliament proceedings
“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.
“NUJ strongly condemns this ban which could clearly depict that Malaysia does not practice media freedom and most crucially it should not be happening with the Parliament which in the first place be a reflection to the symbol of democracy in the country,” he said in a statement.
Earlier today, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia announced that he was barring media personnel from reporting at the Parliament lobby with immediate effect.
Reporters regularly work at the lobby in order to pursue ministers and other lawmakers who do not visit the media room to provide their statements.
Media personnel will now be restricted to the media room located a floor below the Dewan Rakyat.
Citing security reasons for lawmakers, Pandikar also labelled media members flocking the lobby as a “picnic”, which he said made MPs, including himself uncomfortable.
Under the Standing Order 94 of the Parliamentary House Rules, Pandikar said he was allowed to permit or ban any media members’ coverage within the parliamentary grounds.