(Laptop pic by Winterling / Dreamstime)
KUALA LUMPUR, 14 Oct 2009: Umno is paralysed about whether to allow several online news organisations, including The Nut Graph, to cover its 60th annual general assembly at the Putra World Trade Center (PWTC).
The net effect is that these organisations do not have the red-coloured media tags, effectively barring journalists from entering the halls for coverage of speeches and debates.
The Nut Graph directly approached the party’s public relations and media division today for clarification on the status of our application for the media accreditation tags.
We were informed that while The Nut Graph‘s name appeared on the list of media applicants, our application was neither approved nor rejected.
However, the officer in charge said it was not possible for any pass to be issued today, and that no passes were being given out today as they were all issued yesterday.
At the 59th Umno general assembly held in March 2009, Umno had in fact barred several internet media organisations from covering the party’s proceedings. Its secretary-general, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said at that time that the organisations were barred for being “irresponsible in their reporting”.
For this general assembly, Malaysiakini reported that Tengku Adnan had on 9 Oct still not decided whether to approve the online media’s presence despite the futility of barring new media from covering such proceedings.
Malaysiakini editor-in-chief Steven Gan told The Nut Graph in a phone interview: “We have received no news either way.”
The Malaysian Insider consulting editor Leslie Lau said over the phone, “We have not received the passes, and we are leaving it be. It is their party and their right.”
Merdeka Review editor Chan Wei See said her organisation was unable to apply for passes because of a technicality.
Siasah editor Zulkifli Sulong said in a phone interview, “We did not apply because we forgot about it. We were so consumed covering the Bagan Pinang by-election.”
Not an obstacle
At a press conference today, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said, “The issue with the media passes is a party policy. But personally, I feel we must recognise all media.”
He said not issuing passes to online media journalists was counterproductive, since the journalists would show up and cover the assembly anyway, and Umno “would lose out”.
Umno’s paralysis has not stopped the various online media from covering the general assembly. Journalists from all these organisations have access to the media centre, and can follow debates and speeches on live feeds on television screens placed around PWTC.
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