PETALING JAYA: The Election Commission (EC) barring “non-official media” from entering nomination centres for the Sabah elections on Saturday (Sep 12) should be reconsidered, says the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ).
CIJ said that since the change in government in March, the Covid-19 pandemic had been increasingly used as a reason to sideline journalists and media practitioners who are not from state-owned agencies from covering important events of public interest.
"This creates a situation that only one-sided news or perceptions will be available for the public's consumption," CIJ executive director Wathshlah G. Naidu said in a statement Saturday.
Wathshlah pointed out that access to press conferences by certain government ministers providing Covid-19-related updates was still limited to “official media” till today.
She said this was deeply troubling because the public had a right to know what had transpired and be able to form their own opinions based on multiple sources of information.
“Besides that, barring 'unofficial media' from covering government events but still allowing for all official media to do so with physical distancing SOPs taken into account shows that the space for reporters to cover these proceedings safely and according to Covid-19 SOPs is indeed doable," she said.
She added that the government of the day must always work towards ensuring fair and equal access to all media outlets and platforms.
Wathshlah also urged the EC to reconsider its decision to bar non-official media from entering nomination centres, and to allow all media personnel and journalists to enter the voting tabulation centres on polling day on Sept 26.
The Star earlier reported in its LiveBlog coverage of Nomination Day that only those from Radio Television Malaysia (RTM), Bernama, the Information Department and the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) were allowed to enter the nomination centres on Saturday morning.