KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) has condemned the treatment given to journalists present in court to cover the charging of Datuk Nurulhidayah Ahmad Zahid and her husband, Datuk Saiful Nizam Mohd Yusoff, after they were barred from attending proceedings where the Umno president’s daughter had pleaded guilty.
The media group pointed out a possible breach of Section 15 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964, stressing how journalists and the rest of the public had the legal right to attend open court proceedings, barring those done in-camera, as stipulated within the law.
The group highlighted how despite the exclusion of reporters, other members of the public were allowed to be part of proceedings without being ordered to leave the courtroom as was the instructions given to journalists earlier today, suggesting double standards being practiced by the courts.
“In this case, there were others from the public who were allowed to remain throughout the proceedings. We believe that the couple’s perceived influential status should not be taken into consideration in any decisions made.
“As a result, information which could have been obtained directly had to be solicited from the deputy public prosecutor in charge after the hearing was over,” read Geramm’s statement.
They further pointed out the potential misreporting of facts and quotes that could occur if journalists were to face this sort of treatment constantly.
“If not having direct access to information continues to become a norm, journalists risk misquoting or are not able to present neutral and reliable information,” read the statement.
Nurulhidayah and her husband were both fined RM800 after pleading guilty to breaching the MCO on April 20, after the coupled travelled from Kajang to Putrajaya to meet with government leaders.
Members from the media, some of whom had arrived as early as 7am at the Putrajaya Magistrates Court, were however not allowed to be part of the charge proceedings after they were barred from entering the courtroom without reason.
Nurulhidayah is the daughter of Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.