DEWAN Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia has rescinded the ruling restricting media personnel's movement in the Parliament lobby. This was decided on Wednesday after meeting the Backbenchers Club.
RESTRICTING journalists to an area in Parliament House can only be interpreted as an act to undermine the effectiveness of journalists from carrying out their work as professional news gatherers.
If journalists are not free to move about in Parliament, what chance is there for an open and free press?
In what has been touted as an era of opennes and liberalisation in so far as press freedom in concerned, the new ruling on the freedom of movement of journalists goes against what the Government has been promoting - that the media is more free now than ever before.
How can that be when they can't even get near the news sources - be they ministers, backbenchers, ordinary MPs! And when the media 'boycott' media conferences as what was done yesterday, someone is going to blame the media for being arrogant and irresponsible.
It is also obvious that whoever made that ruling - and already we read passing-the-buck statements from several Parliamentarians - does not know how the media operates. It seems that the powers-that-be is passing this message to the media - we'll call you when we need you.
And this is the kind of attitude that can spell trouble in the long run. I've not met a politician who doesn't need the press, no matter how reluctant the politician may appear in the beginning.
The media has to stand united on this one. Government media organisations (Bernama and RTM) may have no choice but to still provide coverage. Even then, they should do so under protest and stand in solidarity with their fellow scribes.
I believe the Press was not even consulted before the new ruling was introduced. Before the Press can take up issues on injustice, suppression and wrongdoings, the Press must first stand up for the injustice done unto itself.