ONCE again, reporters have been banned from the Parliament lobby.
The new ruling, announced by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, meant that reporters can now only provide coverage from the new media room.
Speaking after the question and answer session earlier, Pandikar Amin said several MPs had complained that there were too many reporters lingering in the lobby, causing uneasiness among the ministers and lawmakers.
“I see the media people sitting like there is a picnic,” he said.
Citing Standing Order 94, Pandikar Amin said reporters were now only allowed to do their coverage from the media room on the ground floor of the Parliament building.
This ruling was made, he said, after taking into account the “safety” of the MPs.
“However, I will reconsider this ruling from time to time,” he added.
This will not be the first time that Pandikar Amin has banned reporters from the lobby, having once announced such a ruling back in 2008 which sparked a boycott among the media.
However, Datuk Mahfuz Omar (PAS-Pokok Sena) pointed out that reporters were in the lobby to get immediate responses or comments from the MPs and ministers.
“If they sit in a hidden place (media room), they will not be able to see where the MPs or ministers are,” he said.
Anthony Loke (DAP-Seremban) then asked Pandikar Amin if MPs could use the ministers’ press conference room in the lobby.
Currently, lawmakers need to go to the media room for a press conference.
“The location is not practical for MPs due to the distance,” he said.
Minutes after the ruling, Parliament security officers told reporters to disperse from the lobby.
Later, Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said he would propose to the Cabinet to set aside space for reporters at the lobby, adding that he would also be discussing this with Pandikar Amin.
In a statement, the National Union of Journalists said it condemned the ban, adding that most crucially, it should not be happening in Parliament, which was a symbol of the country’s democracy.