Thursday, June 26, 2008

Newsmen and The Parliament

I would like to apologise for not being able to blog since Monday. Over the last two days, the Parliament has been abuzz, not only with the proceedings, but also with the happenings outside the respected hall. On Monday, news organisations were told by "authorities" in Parliament, that they could only send five media personal to cover Parliament sittings. This new ruling had irked journalist. To make things worse, on Tuesday, the "authorities" were at it again, this time "cordoning" off reporters from the Parliament lobby. Although, I am a first time MP, I had served as a senator for two terms and have become accustomed to many journalists, who are now my friends. The second move was the last straw for many journalists.
"Datuk, do we look like some insane people that we need to be cordoned off and wait for MPs (which include Ministers and Deputy Ministers) to hold press conferences, like dogs waiting to be thrown a bone," one newsmen asked me. This was his mildest remark or question!
The "authorities" revealed that these measures were to ensure security. I don't buy this one bit. Reporters and cameramen use different entry and exit points. Their identity is checked. They need not one, but two tags to get in. We all know the regular faces, although some many be newbies. The Parliament house is fitted with CCTVs almost at all angles. In fact reporters are asked to go through a metal detector before entering the building. What more security do you need? Maybe the authorities would like to do a strip search next?
Two nights ago, I met up with some of my journalists friends and asked them to explain on the workings of a media organisation in Parliament. "They are letting five reporters per organisation, is that not enough?," I enquired.
The explanation given to me was in full and after listening, I realised that indeed five was not sufficient, if an organisation was to provide full coverage of the proceedings. If the government wants the people to know what is being debated etc, then it should allow more reporters to cover instead of restricting them. The one hour question and answer session, requires at least two to three reporters. This number could increase if the PM or the DPM were answering questions. Then you have unscheduled press conferences by Ministers, Deputy Ministers, the Opposition leaders etc. That requires another reporter. Then you have the "boss" who clears copies in Parliament so reports are coordinated and to ensure there is no duplication in reporting. Now you tell me, do you expect these reporters to work without rest for the whole proceedings, which sometimes drags up to 10pm? Surely they would need to take turns to take a breather. So, my conclusion is five is not enough! Allow them to bring in whatever number of reporters they think is appropriate. Let them do their job.
On cordoning off the lobby, I certainly do not agree with this! These newsmen, know the dos and don'ts. They behave and are a courteous lot. The "authorities" have said that some people (outsiders) are conducting birthday celebrations in the lobby and one way to stop this is to cordon off reporters. Does this make sense? For me, it definitely does not! Treat them with respect. Journalists might earn a lot less than what the MPs are getting, but they are, for me, the most important component of the system. Without them, whatever you do, whatever you talk and whatever you think, stays within you. Why upset the very people you are supposed to keep happy? For me all this just does not make sense.
It would be good if those in charge of making such rash decisions, hire a media consultant to find ways to keep the newsmen happy, without undermining security. This can be done with ease. Let the consultant come up with a proper guideline, which is agreeable to all. Views of the media in drawing up the guideline is paramount. We do not want a guideline which does not take into account the views of media practitioners. This would definitely work and ensure journalists are free to do their job without any hassle.
I would like to finish this post with a point made by a journalist friend the other day.
"Datuk, journalist are like chefs. When a chef makes a dish, he or she must put some passion and love in what is being cooked. If the chef does not do this, the dish would not have anything extra, as it would be just another dish. But if the chef, puts these two important ingredients in cooking the dish, then the end product would have that extra zing and taste delicious. The same with journalists. If the reporter is happy and likes what he or she is writing, then the report would be off good quality. These new rules in Parliament certainly does not make a reporter happy, so what do you expect of Parliament reports?"
I replied:" Point taken and noted brother."

p/s: Euro scores -- Germany 3 Turkey 2. (although Turkey lost, they deserve a pat on the back for the good show during the whole tournament. I wish the Malaysian team that much of grit. If they did, we would be a force to be reckoned with in Asia alongside Japan, Korea and such).


zorro said...

YB, as promised on Tuesday night I will give my dua sen in this box. BN maneuvers is similar to guilty people who are forever look over their shoulders. This present posture is a case in point. If BN has nothing to hide why all these prickly unnecessary banning of journalists from the lobby. Will it be asking too much if you can reprimand the Speaker for this trivial pronouncement of his. He is behaving like a saw-dust Caesar/Napoleon. ....tell him off....unless you fear Najib's ship. Its a tough assignment....but isnt it that when the going gets tough that the TOUGH gets going? I have fulfilled my promise to you. Cheers.

Dinesh Raj said...

M Saravanan,

First of all let me commend you for being upcoming with our comments, well done and keep it up. Because of this your blog is now becoming popular because we can voice our grieviences here.

This is another racially motivated move by Nazri, now dont deny it please. Unfortunately journalists we the accidental scapegoats.

After Vaishnavi celebrated her birthday in the concourse (which I dont agree by the way - not the right place), UMNO politicians were so damn pissed off by the fact that working class indians are now invited guests to the parliament - because Pakatan MPs like Gobala, Manickavasagam, our Deputy CM and YB Kula are for the first time inviting these people to come and voice their grieviencances to elected reps in the parliament.(MIC by the way always hoodwinked Indians and didnt want them to see all these places and learn their rights - typical british stooge!) UMNO cant stand to see anyone but Malays enter the parliament, just racist to the core. And what MIC is doing? Nothing? At least Saudara Bung Mokhtar Radin and Saudara Tiong from Bintulu had the guts to remove the barriers - what did you do hey Datuk, since you claim to be buddy buddy with the press?

NOTHING, and I know why! Because you dont want to be get bollocked the same way Sothinathan and Devamany got from Najib!

Its time to be a man and wear pants! Defend the rights of Indians and stop being enslaved by UMNO! If you have difficulty, join PR as deep down I believe you are slightly better than the rest of the MIC donkeys.

Harry Singh said...

Dear Minister,

No need to sound apologetic for asking the tough questions that need to be answered as a representative of the Indian. So typical, when an Indian questions, he/she is quickly labeled. No one to see beyond their own benefits and appreciate that many Indians are amongst the poorest in Malaysia. Yes, you will quickly hear a chorus of how many Indians are doctors, lawyers, accountants. Can I ask how many were given assistance. I can assure most of them became professional based on their own hard work and personal sacrifice. Sponsored by their parents , who mortgaged their properties or expended all their savings. Thus, the reason Indian parents cannot even afford holidays because they have to continue to save for their children education. Why can't the government provide sponsored education like they provide for others to Indians. Similar to job opportunities for Indians in civil service with equal opportunity to promotion based on merit. I mention civil service because here the government of the day can make a difference and practice what they preach. Please less lip service but more action. Actions speaks louder whilst talk walks.

p/s Another interesting news I have heard but unconfirmed. When a Indian candidate is awarded an overseas scholarship by JPA to do medicine most likely it is Indonesia. Indian = Indonesian , interesting. Dear Minister can you assist to confirm this, TQ and have an outstanding day