Parliament’s Drama

Things in Malaysia is getting weirder and weirder. I don’t know about you, but for me I feel that nowadays we are dealing with many minor issues instead of dealing with the issues at hand. There are so many issues that need urgent discussions, but no, they decided this. The latest drama from the Parliament

Saturday June 21, 2008

Five is enough, says Parliament

By LEE YUK PENG

KUALA LUMPUR: Only five – that’s the number of journalists each news organisation is allowed inside Parliament from Monday.

The controversial move was announced in a press statement issued after 5pm yesterday.

The Parliament administration stated that the limit was for security reasons.

National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president Norila Mohd Daud said the limit would make it more difficult for journalists to work in Parliament.

“The restriction will only result in fewer stories filed.

“Now that everyone is interested in reading news from Parliament and there are more ministers holding press conferences at the lobby, more pressmen should be allowed to move freely in the building to get more stories,” she said.

Norila also said pressmen on duty wear media tags issued by their companies and also media tags from the Information Ministry.

“Security is not a problem,” she said.

During a normal session, The Star has a team of six to nine journalists reporting from Parliament.

This does not include photographers and video crew from The Star’s Multimedia Department.

An Indonesian TV station covered the Malaysian Parliament last May. Wire agencies, Singapore TV and online news portals also regularly cover the parliamentary sessions.

Ipoh Timur MP Lim Kit Siang said Parliament should welcome more reporters, rather than limit their number.

“Parliament gains importance for news coverage with more pressmen here,” he said, adding that journalists were reporting on the national political landscape as well.

However, the Barisan National Backbenchers Club (BBC) has a different opinion.

Deputy BBC chairman, Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (Kinabatangan) opines that five reporters are “more than enough”.

He said five newsmen, even with the inclusion of photographers, already represented a small crew.

“Personally, I think that five’s too many.

“I am in no position to voice out how news agencies feel, which is why they should appeal to the Parliament administration if there are grouses, but personally, I think it is more than enough,” said Bung.

Source : The Star Online

Tuesday June 24, 2008 MYT 9:15:23 PM

Editors back Parliament protest (updated)

By LOONG MENG YEE

KUALA LUMPUR: Chief editors have lent their support to colleagues protesting restrictive moves imposed by Parliament authorities, saying the decision was an unnecessary hindrance and an insult to the press.

About 100 journalists covering Parliament staged a boycott Tuesday morning after they were denied access to the lobby. They refused to attend press conferences or take down statements, although they covered developments in the chamber.

The barrier was later removed by the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club (see Timeline below).

China Press editor-in-chief Teoh Yang Khoon said: “Reporters are never a security threat and we know where to draw the line in respecting the privacy of the Members of Parliament.

“For instance, we do not barge into areas meant for the MPs, nor do we trail the MPs into the toilet. Therefore, respect must also be shown to reporters. The restrictions are an insult,” he said.

The Star group chief editor Datuk Wong Chun Wai, in his chunwai08.blogspot entry titled Fast, Furious and Stupid in KL, said the decision had infuriated the media.

“It is unprecedented. The decision had left reporters stunned and certainly insulted,” said Wong.

New Straits Times Press Group editor-in-chief Datuk Hishamuddin Aun said reporters were carrying out their duties and would certainly be hurt if they were harassed or treated like second-class citizens.

“The management did not give instructions to reporters to boycott, but for the sake of unity, everyone (covering Parliament) agreed. The boycott is unfortunate and I sympathise with the reporters and photographers.

“Instead of totally cordoning off the lobby, perhaps the Parliament authorities can issue separate passes allowing for one or two reporters from each organisation to roam in the lobby,” said Hishamuddin.

When told that an aide of a minister had used the Malaysiakini team of three reporters as an example of a sufficiently strong team to cover news in Parliament, the online news portal’s co-founder Steven Gan, said: “I would have sent more staff if I could. We are missing stories but I do not have enough reporters.

“Parliament is a vibrant arena after the March 8 political tsunami and there is need for a larger team of journalists.”

Nanyang Siang Pau

“The restrictions are very sarcastic moves by the Parliament authorities. It does not show respect for the work of journalists, especially in Parliament, the epitome of democracy,” said Chong.

Sin Chew Daily executive editor-in-chief Kuik Cheng Kang said Parliament authorities were wrong to target the media because “the press had never done anything wrong to threaten the security since Independence”.

“There are many other groups of people crowding the lobby, such as ministry officers and lobby groups. Reporters are there to do our jobs, not celebrate birthdays. Please do not punish us for working,” said Kuik.

The Sun consultant editor Zainon Ahmad said the lobby was the best place for the press to get news from Ministers, MPs and other government servants.

Timeline

9.30am: Reporters arrived at Parliament lobby to discover that red tapes were used to cordon off the main part of the lobby and there were security guards around.

Reporters, photographers and camera crew were only allowed to at a small corner where press conferences used to be held. Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan) was at lobby and spoke to reporters separated by the red tape.

Consensus reached among pressmen to boycott press conferences held at the lobby.

10.30am: When Salahuddin Ayub (PAS-Kubang Kerian) and Khalid Abd Samad (PAS-Shah Alam) expressed their intention to hold a press conference at the lobby, many refused to attend.

10.40am: Photographers, cameramen and journalists left their “working equipment” such as cameras, voice recorders and notebooks on the floor as a sign to stop covering news events at the lobby.

11.30am: After being told that all press members had suspended their work outside the Parliament chamber, Edward Jules, an aide of Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said he respected them and would convey the information to his boss.

However, he returned a few minutes later with Dr Rais and held a press conference, which was only attended by a few official media such as Bernama and RTM.

Opposition MPs Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan) and Tian Chua (PKR-Batu) decided to issue written statements through their aides instead of speaking directly to the press after realising that most reporters were going on “strike”.

But when Ipoh Timor MP special assistant Lim Swee Kuan wanted to distribute some press statements at the media centre, two security guards prevented him from doing so.

“They told me that staff like us are no longer allowed to give out statements and only MPs have the right to do so.

“I then asked them where the directive came from and they told me that ‘we have it in black and white’,” he said.

Noon: Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut), Tian Chua (PKR-Batu), Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR-Lembah Pantai), R. Sivarasa (PKR-Subang) and Jeff Ooi (DAP-Jelutong) were present at media centre to give their statements but the press told them that the ban is on.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s meeting at noon involving the Barisan Nasional management committee meeting held at the committee room was only covered by Bernama.

2.15pm: A group of Barisan Nasional backbenchers marched through the lobby and announced business as usual for all press members by removing all barricades that restricted the movements of reporters.

Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club deputy chairman Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin said they did not consult the Parliament administration, nor did they get permission from the Dewan Rakyat Speaker before removing the barricade.

Najib’s second meeting – the Cabinet committee on sports development – was also covered only by Bernama.

3pm: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s meeting on palm oil was covered only by Bernama.

3.30pm: Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen, who sent two aides to the media centre to look for press coverage on her 100th day in the ministry, was told “No press coverage at the lobby.”

Source : The Star Online

Tuesday June 24, 2008 MYT 7:30:40 PM

Parliament barricades removed (Update 2)

Photo Gallery

KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional Backbenchers’ Club deputy chairman Bung Mokhtar Radin (Kinabatangan) removed the barricades barring the media from the Parliament lobby at 2.15pm on Tuesday.

He announced “business as usual,” allowing media representatives to move freely around the lobby.

The move came after more than 100 journalists from print, online and broadcast media organisations staged a boycott at Parliament on Tuesday morning after being denied access.

The area was cordoned off by Parliament security. The reason for such a move is unclear at the moment, but last Friday media organisations were told that beginning Tuesday, only five journalists per organisation would be allowed at Parliament.

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.

A group of PKR and DAP Members of Parliament (MPs) visited the media centre to hold a press conference, but were told that no statements would be recorded outside the chamber.

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 ATMs.

Lim Guan Eng (DAP – Bagan), who is also Penang Chief Minister, criticised the ban, saying that it did not reflect freedom of press and a first world parliament.

The number of press conferences held at the lobby has increased recently with the stronger opposition in the Parliament.

More ministers have been holding press conferences at the lobby. NGOs too have been meeting up with MPs at the lobby area.

Source : The Star Online

I am just speechless. LOL ^^,

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