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New ruling limits media access in Parliament

KUALA LUMPUR: The media is now not allowed to do coverage from the Parliament lobby.

The new ruling, announced by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia (pic) on Tuesday, places a "zonal" restriction on journalists and only allows them to provide coverage from the Parliament's media room.

Pandikar Amin said several lawmakers had complained that media personnel were lingering at the lobby area, causing uneasiness among ministers and MPs.

"I see the media people sitting like there is a picnic," he said.

Quoting Standing Order 94, Pandikar Amin said from now on, journalists can only provide coverage from the media room, which is located on the ground floor of the building.

He also said the ruling was done after taking into consideration of the safety of lawmakers.

"However, I will reconsider this ruling from time to time," he added.

Datuk Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) interjected and said while he respected the ruling, he reminded Pandikar Amin that media personnel are there to get immediate responses or comments.

"If they are sitting in a hidden place (media room), they will not be able to see where the MPs or ministers are.

"Also, we find their presence adds liveliness to the lobby, so we urge you to reconsider your decision," he said.

Anthony Loke (DAP-Seremban) asked Pandikar Amin if lawmakers could utilise the press conference room at the lobby area meant for ministers.

Currently, lawmakers have to go to the media room to conduct press conferences while Ministers have a separate room nearby.

"With due respect, the location is not practical for MPs because of the distance.

"Sometimes we want to have a press conference (at the lobby) and return to the House.

"There is a room next to the Dewan but it is only for ministers so why is there a division here?" he said.

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said he supported the ruling, adding even he was caught off guard several times when reporters approached him for comments.

"I came out of the toilet and I was 'door-stopped' – but if I may suggest, perhaps they could wait near the secretariat room which is at the back end (of the lobby)," he said.

Minutes after Pandikar Amin's ruling, Parliament security officers told reporters to disperse.