Speaker to Press: Stay away from Parliament lobby

The press aren’t allowed to access the Parliament lobby, starting this morning. Reason? Security.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 — The Parliament administration today restricted the media access to the lobby by barricading the area, raising the ire of journalists.

As a result, press representatives from the print, online and electronic media decided to only cover the proceedings in the Dewan Rakyat and boycott all press conferences or events held outside of the chambers.

The ruling, apparently done on security grounds, stunned journalists as it prevents them from moving freely in the lobby area or approach MPs.

Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan) spoke about the House’s decision to restrain the media during Question Time today.

“The media’s work has been severely restricted as a result of this. The media plays an important role and should be allowed space.” He was heckled by BN backbenchers when he said the move was tantamount to not supporting press freedom.

Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad (BN-Pulai), when contacted, agreed with the move to restrict free access to the lobby for the press. “It was getting overcrowded with the cameras and everything. There should be a proper area for the press to operate (in the lobby),” he said.

He disagreed with the argument that limited access would prevent the press from carrying out their duties to the fullest. “If they want to talk to an MP, they can call him up,” he added.

Full article here.
Read also the analysis on the Malaysian Insider here.

*******

Not supporting press freedom? How very true. This is the LITERAL meaning of suppressing press freedom.

What kind of security reasons are we talking about? Seriously. And to barricade the lobby? How far do they intend to go?

(Photo taken from Malaysian Insider, photo by Choo Choy May)

Look at the picture, and tell me it doesn’t look like a murder just took place. Look and tell me that it doesn’t look like some forensic experts are going to arrive any minute.

For crying out loud, is this how the press is going to be treated? Is this how you treat the people who write about what you have to say?

The government had already earlier limited the number of reporters from each newspaper to 5. Why then limit them again in the areas of Parliament that they can go to and wait for the MPs?

Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad said that if the reporters want to talk to the MPs, they can always call them up. But seriously, are the MPs that free to take every call they get from the reporters? Nobody knows for sure.

And because Nur Jazlan writes occasionally for the Malaysian Insider, I’m hoping he’ll write something up about why he thinks that this is the right thing to do.

In the meantime, Rocky’s Bru has something on this too. Here’s an excerpt:

Effective this week, the whole lobby has been cordoned off (imagine a police crime scene, yellow tapes, barricades). Reporters prohibited. Not allowed. No Entry. Main jauh-jauh.

“If we want to catch an MP or Minister, we’d have to holler or jump up and down to catch his or her attention from outside the area. How demeaning is that?,” a fed-up journo told me this morning.

Very insulting, indeed.

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And at the same time, what does the StarOnline report?

KUALA LUMPUR: Parliament has barred the press from the lobby effective 10am Tuesday, limiting more than 100 representatives from various media organisations to operate in a small corner where press conferences are normally held.

Journalists are restricted from moving freely in the Parliament lobby and only have access to the cafeteria, the press conference corner and the Speaker’s office.

They have been barred from the lounge meant for MPs, cubicles for ministers, the bridge linking lobby to the next building where Prime Minister’s Office is located, mobile post offices and ATM machines.

Full article here.

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I don’t know about you, but to me, this article reeks of “trying to save some face for the govt”. Sure it reports about where exactly they are allowed in, and where they cannot go. All the information. But it also seems like they’re trying to “convince” the readers, in a way, that the ruling to bar the press from entering those areas MIGHT be justified. After all, the lounge is MEANT for MPs, so why should the press go there? The cubicles are for ministers, so why should the press go there?

I’m sure they’re as pissed off by this new “ruling” as the next person. So show that “pissed off”-ness a bit. At the very least, Wong Chun Wai knows how to call it “stupid” in his own blog.

UPDATE: Since the StarOnline has updated their article, I thought I’d update too. At least now, they’re showing some of the “pissed off”-ness I was talking about. Good for them.

More than 100 journalists from print, online and broadcast media organisations are staging a boycott at Parliament after being denied access to the lobby on Tuesday morning.

The journalists, forced to operate in a small corner where press conferences are normally held, said they would not cover any press conferences held outside the chamber, nor would they entertain any such requests.



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