Sarawak election: Local journalists unhappy with treatment

The Federation of Sarawak JournalistAssociations (FSJA) will write to Election Commission chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof over the bad treatment given by some returning officers (ROs) to journalists covering the just concluded 10th state election.

Its president Roger T.L Liong said he had received complaints from members from Miri and Bintulu. He said a key frustration was the non-recognition of the EC-issued election passes by its appointed ROs.

“It was only two days before the nomination of candidates on April 6 that journalists were told the pink passes and other documents that they had obtained were not recognised. They were told they would have to get three separate passes to enter the nomination, polling and tally centres,” he said.

Liong said they were also told to go personally to the respective District Offices to get the passes which was again frustratingly time consuming.

“To make matters worse, new ‘conditions’ were set where each newspaper could only send two reporters to a centre and their names had to be accompanied by an official letter from their companies. As a result of this, fellow journalists from outside the state were kept out,” he lamented.

Liong said on nomination day, they were only allowed to take photographs of candidates from a distance of 100 feet by the over-zealous officers.

“On the vote tallying evening too, only the EC workers and political party workers accompanying their candidates could move freely to take photographs.

“Again journalists were told to keep their 100 feet distance. They were not even provided with chairs unlike for those who had come just to observe.”

But some ROs in other places were helpful, Liong said.

He hoped the EC could standardise all its rules and procedures to help the media do their job.

– Bernama