Malaysian journalists banned from parliament lobby

Dewan Rakyat - Malaysia's Parliament, where journalists are now confined to the media room.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliates the National Union of Journalists, Peninsular Malaysia (NUJM) in condemning the ban issued by Dewan Rakyat (Parlianment) Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia prohibiting journalists from entering the lobby of Parliament.  The IFJ calls for the ban to be immediately lifted.

As of March 21, journalists are now to be confined to the press room for official media conferences at the Dewan Rakyat (Malaysia’s Parliament). Originally journalists have been allowed to access the lobby of the parliament, seeking out politicans for short, impromptu interviews, outside official press conferences.

The ban was issued by Pandikar Amin Mulia in an attempt to stop members of parliament from being misquoted during impromptu interviews with journalists. Pandikar said that MPs also felt uncomfortable with the practice. The ban will now mean that any journalist caught breaking the rule will be banned from covering the parliament sittings.

NUJM president Mohd Taufek Razak, said: “We condemn such restrictions because this shows Malaysia does not practise media freedom and this incident should not have happened in Parliament, which is the symbol of democracy. As long as journalists do not violate the rules of Parliament, the ban may be considered a crackdown on journalists from accessing any information worthy of news.” 

The IFJ said, “This decision severely impacts the ability of journalists to freely approach politicians to discuss issues of governance and parliamentary proceedings. These latest restrictions placed on Malaysian journalists represent a continued effort on behalf of the government to restrict and control what information is being reported. This style of government is clearly intended to intimidate and stifle criticism.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0946 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

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