KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman today called for fair treatment of media members, after Parliament’s seemingly selective treatment in granting access to the media, to cover the November Parliament sitting.
Taking to Facebook, Syed Saddiq said it was not sensible to impose such a limitation.
“To me, this is not sensible. Media organisations such as BFM, The Edge, Malaysiakini, Malay Mail and FMT must also be given permission to freely carry out their coverage in the Dewan Rakyat.
“The media freedom to carry out this coverage is also for the people. We all have a right to get timely information and the latest news freely and transparently without any disruptions,” he wrote.
He pointed out that the 15 media organisations allowed to enter Parliament for coverage beginning November 2, is a far cry from the actual number of media organisations at present.
“I understand there is the threat of Covid-19 spreading. However, come up with a procedure for media organisations to undergo health checks and others.
“Don’t be selective as to who can conduct coverage in the Dewan Rakyat, and who can’t,” he added.
Syed Saddiq said that limiting the number of journalists into Parliament would affect news coverage of Budget 2021, scheduled to be tabled on November 6.
“There must be a responsibility to get the news across to inform the public ,” he said.
He urged Parliament to reverse its media restriction order.
Parliament’s corporate communications unit yesterday announced that only 15 media organisations would be granted access into Parliament for the November 2 to December 15 sitting, citing the need to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil yesterday called out Parliament officials for limiting the number of news agencies in the coming Dewan Rakyat sitting, claiming it was a ploy to restrict media freedom.
He noted that many online news companies and international wires were missing from the list, with the exception of Channel News Asia, headquartered in Singapore.
The circular also comes after a politically eventful week that included a disclosure by Umno’s Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah on a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that revealed rifts within the PN alliance and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s royal audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong after claiming to have the support of over 120 parliamentary legislators, enough to cause another change in government.
Expressing scepticism over the reasons given, Fahmi said that Parliament officials could do more to accommodate the large number of journalists covering Budget and other debates while keeping to health regulations if they had the will to do so.
Similarly, Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik had also criticised the move.