KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 – Journalists covering proceedings in the Dewan Rakyat will no longer be allowed to be present in the Parliament lobby.
The shocking ruling was made by speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia today.
He said reporters would only be allowed to cover sittings from the media centre and the press gallery.
“Many MPs are uncomfortable that the Dewan lobby has become crowded. It’s like a place for picnics with reporters everywhere” he said at the start of the sitting today.
“’They can provide media coverage from the media centre and the press gallery,” he said.
The announcement triggered objections from a few opposition MPs.
Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) stood up to say he did not see any point in such a move as reporters needed immediate responses to issues from MPs.
Anthony Loke (DAP-Seremban) said the ruling was not practical as the legislative house was a distance away from the media centre on the ground floor at the rear of the Parliament building. The Dewan Rakyat is on the first floor.
However, Pandikar said the decision had been made. He stressed that any media official found breaking the ruling would be barred from covering the Dewan sitting.
He said Standing Order 94 authorised the speaker to allow media representatives to attend sittings, and permission could be revoked if they did not comply with rules.
Pandikar explained that it was for the safety of MPs as well as his own. “In other parliaments, no ministers are ambushed by the media,” he said.
Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz (BN-Padang Rengas) then said he was approached by the media earlier today. “I was ambushed as I came out of the toilet,” he said.
The Parliament building was reopened on March 6 after undergoing almost six years of renovations. The Dewan proceedings had been held at a temporary building located opposite the main complex since 2011.