Thursday, November 15, 2012

No more using parliamentary lobby for 'press conferences' - another undemocratic action

Another indication of how un-democratic Malaysia under this government is.  Why can't people come to Parliament and communicate their views to all Malaysians? After all, let us not forget that some media will after all not give any media coverage to certain stories and views. 

It is most disappointing that 76 members of media allegedly signed a petition calling for an end to press conferences at the Parliament lobby - this is after all a public area. Journalist who do not want to attend some press conference (or meet and talk to some people who have come there) has a choice to do so. So why really are these 'media persons' trying to stop freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, freedom of information, press freedom... Name these alleged what their petition said... and we will know which media agency is anti freedom of expression.

Many people do go to Parliament to convey their views, opinions and other information to the Parliamentarians - and whilst there, it has been common practice to also meet with media persons. [Well, after all the reporters are already there - and that gives one a good opportunity to  get their information, views and opinions into the print and electronic media] All these usually happens in a very spacious lobby area where there sofas and desks, and many of them...So why, this sudden restriction of freedom of expression even in the Parliamentary lobby...

Now, thanks to the new Peaceful Assembly Act - spaces for public protest have disappeared. Even public areas and venues --- seem to now become 'private' controlled by some government agency or Local Council.... The new Act even brings in 'new excuses' to say "NO"...Democratic space in Malaysia is shrinking ...and this new 'ban' in Dewan Rakyat is just a further shrinking of the rakyat's democratic space...

No more PCs for non-MPs in Dewan Rakyat

Friday, November 09, 2012 - 14:58
by Ram Anand

INDIVIDUALS who are not members of the lower house – the Dewan Rakyat – will no longer be allowed to use lobby facilities specially designated for MPs to conduct press conferences, the Speaker announced today.

In a move that has been festering in the background for the past few weeks, Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia said that he found it "embarassing" that outsiders are conducting the press conferences with the Parliament logo clearly visible in the background.

In past practice, anyone is allowed to hold a press conference in the Parliament lobby, on condition that an MP accompanies them.
Pandikar put his foot down to deny any outsider the priviledge of using the facilities but said outsiders are allowed to speak to the press at "any other corner" in the Parliament, as long as they do not use MP facilities.

"You are allowed to come in, as a guest. But do not utilise the facilities that are set aside for MPs," said Pandikar, who had earlier announced the move to MPs citing Standing Order 93 and 94.

"The area surrounding the Dewan Rakyat still comes under the power and watch of the Speaker," he said.

The move comes in the back of a petition by the media requesting Parliament authorities to stop allowing non-MPs from conducting PCs. Around 76 members of media stationed on Dewan Rakyat duties had signed the petition.

It was only last week that PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli used the Parliament lobby to conduct a press conference to level an allegation against Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz's son, Nedim Abdul Aziz. Nazri also happens to the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.

"It's not like this in any other Parliaments across the world. In some Parliaments, the press cannot mingle with any of the MPs within a vicinity. You are not even allowed to touch facilities that belongs to only MPs," Pandikar told reporters during a press conference at his Ante Chamber office.

On if Malaysian Parliament regulations were more lenient compared to its global counterparts, Pandikar replied in the affirmative, adding "but it's our culture – our culture to let people inside."

Pandikar presented a booklet containing photographs of instances where commoners conducted PCs under the presence of a MP at the lobby, and went on to admit that "most of" the occurrences involved opposition members.

However, BN backbenchers have also conducted PCs by inviting outsiders before. Last month, Khairy Jamaluddin (Rembau) and P. Kamalanathan (Hulu Selangor) held a press conference with some outsiders representing small and medium enterprises across the country.

Pandikar said that he did not think the civilians who held press conferences in the lobby were doing so because they had no other place to go to.

"It's just that they come here as guests, purposely, because they know if you do a press conference here you will get coverage. But I'm not stopping journalists from asking questions to any visitor or guest here. That's your job. Just don't use the (MP) facilities," he added. - Malay Mail, 9/11/2011, No more PCs for non-MPs in Dewan Rakyat

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