We, the undersigned groups, note with serious concern the recent restriction imposed on media personnel covering parliamentary proceedings.
The Parliament corporate communications department has announced that effective 16 November 2015, each news agency will only be allowed to assign three journalists, inclusive of photographers or videographers.
The decision was made supposedly due to critical working space constraints as a result of ongoing renovation works, 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.
We would like to point out that state-owned media agencies, RTM and Bernama, currently have large contingents in Parliament to carry out live coverage on television.
Should this regulation not apply to certain media organisations, it could be surmised that Parliament, the bedrock of Malaysia’s democracy, is not facilitating fair and free access to all media, a key cornerstone in the democratic process.
Given the fact that renovation works will be ongoing for the next few years, the restriction would make it unfeasible for the media agencies to effectively carry out their primary duties of informing the public.
We jointly urge the minister in charge of parliamentary affairs Azalina Othman and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia to not only lift the restriction, but also facilitate media coverage of parliamentary proceedings, taking into account the need to accommodate long-term renovation works.
This statement is endorsed by:
- Gerakan Media Marah (Geramm)
- Institute of Journalists Malaysia
- National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJM)
- Centre for Independent Journalism Malaysia (CIJ)
- Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia (FCCM)
- Malaysian Press Photographers Association (MPPA)