Zambry forced to reverse media restrictions as Pakatan slams Perak police, state secretary


By Debra Chong (The Malaysian Insider)

IPOH, May 3 – The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) today accused the police and the Perak state secretary of partisanship ahead of the May 7 state assembly sitting, even as the mentri besar slipped into damage control mode in the fallout from an earlier decision to restrict media coverage.

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim noted that the state secretary had “seemingly taken over the duties” of the speaker, including deciding which media organisations were allowed to enter the assembly.

But even as Anwar was speaking here at a joint press conference together with PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang and the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang, Perak mentri besar Datuk Zambry Abd Kadir announced he had rescinded the restrictions in a posting on his blog.

Zambry claimed to have had no hand in the decision to restrict the number of media organisations covering the state assembly, but he suggested it was made because of space constraints.

“In the name of press freedom I have asked the information department to allow all mainstream media representatives to cover (the assembly). This includes the new media, including our blogger friends,” the Perak MB wrote.

Last week, the Perak Information Department issued a circular listing down which media organisations were allowed to send their reporters and cameramen to cover the state assembly sitting, leaving out a number of newspapers and also the online media.

The decision to restrict the number of media organisations has drawn a major outcry and has damaged Zambry’s attempts to win backing for his government.

The DAP’s Lim, speaking at the press conference here, said: “I think it is clear these people have no respect for the media.”

He accused Zambry of having something to hide and “for turning the assembly into a security prison.”

Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin, who still maintains he is the mentri besar, was also present at today’s press conference, told reporters he had received a request from the police to attend a special briefing tomorrow.

He noted it was the first time the police had ever organised such a briefing.

Nizar said all PR lawmakers would boycott the briefing.