PETALING JAYA: The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) have criticised the decision to restrict media access for the one-day Parliament sitting on May 18.
"CIJ is dismayed with the reported statements by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof and de facto law minister Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan that access to the one-day Parliament sitting on May 18 will be restricted to state-owned media RTM and Bernama.
"The Covid-19 pandemic was quoted as the reason behind this ruling," said CIJ executive director Wathshlah G. Naidu in a statement on Saturday (May 9).
Although there would be a live telecast of the proceedings, she said denying media access to MPs denied journalists the opportunity to verify information directly with them.
"Now there will only be a one-sided message or perception, disallowing any dissenting opinions for public consumption.
"This is deeply troubling as the public have a right to know what transpired and form their own opinion based on multiple sources of information," she added.
Wathshlah said the government must work with the media and provide a safe and enabling environment by ensuring that all necessary sanitisation and social distancing measures were adopted.
In their statement, Geramm said the restriction should be revoked as there was no clear need for it.
"Instead, all media personnel on duty can abide by the Health Ministry's standard operating procedures to prevent Covid-19 infections.
"This is in line with Senior Minister in charge of the Security Cluster Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob's call for self-regulation after the movement control order is lifted," the statement read.
Geramm said media personnel had been and would continue to take precautionary safety measures when covering news.
Geramm added that journalists were more than stenographers because the media served a crucial role as the fourth estate in a democracy.
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