Thursday, April 03, 2008

Parliamentary Debates To Be Live-Telecasted; Bloggers Invited on TV Every Week: Shabery Cheek

Yes, you heard me right. It's all over RTM news, but still not on Bernama.

Watch this space.

UPDATED: Here's the news:

Thursday April 3, 2008
MPs to be live on TV for 30mins

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians will get to watch their parliamentarians live and uncensored for 30 minutes everyday on RTM 1 as long as Parliament is in session.

Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek said that the Cabinet had approved of the live telecast of the question-and-answer session in the Dewan Rakyat, and it will be aired from 10am to 10.30am from April 30.

He replied with a firm "No" when asked if there would be censorship for the programme.

"There will be no censorship. Those who speak in Parliament are all MPs"

"As for what they want to say, that is beyond our control. But what is important is that the rakyat havechosen their MPs. Surely they would want to know what is going on in Parliament," he told reporters at his office at Angkasapuri Thursday.

"If they speak rudely, or slam tables, it will be beyond our control. But I don't think our MPs are like that or they would not have been elected as parliamentarians."

Ahmad Shabery said the live Q&A programme will start with 30 minutes and the ministry would consider expanding it if there was positive feedback.

"In other countries, there might be a full coverage for their parliament session. Maybe we will reach that level at some point, but right now we are limited because we only have two channels.

"This shows the Government's openness and confidence. There is nothing to hide. Given our increased confidence, the Cabinet has decided to allow this live telecast," he said.

The minister said bloggers who formed the alternative media, would also get "live" airtime on a Government news channel.

Every Sunday night beginning April 20, an interview session, ala BBC's Hardtalk, will be held from 8.40pm to 9pm during RTM 1's Bahasa Malaysia news segment.

"We are open to take into consideration the views of the alternative media and we are willing to listen to all parties," Ahmad Shabery said.

However, he said it was still to early to identify the bloggers who would be invited for the programme, adding that a lot of would depend on the issues, which are raised.

"Let's see how it goes first, you might be surprised to see who we invite.

"It's not about the personality, it's about the issues brought up. It's about news, opinions and the analysis which they bring forward," he said, when queried on whether only pro-Barisan bloggers would be invited, or if the programme would be open to all bloggers.

He also stressed that the choice of interviewees would be decided by RTM and not himself.

Asked if he thought bloggers would respond positively to their invitation, as the previous Information Minister (Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin) had clamped down hard on them, he said:

"What is past is past. I think it's best we forget about the past and think about the future. Asked if there would be repercussions for bloggers who touched on sensitive or illegal issues during the programme, he said: "Nobody is immune in this country, except in Parliament. If the bloggers choose to say slanderous things, we have laws in the country.

"It will not be our Ministry who takes action against them but the legal process will take its course. The slandered person can take action against the blogger involved," he said.

However, he said he believed that the majority of bloggers "do not write their blogs to destroy".

"We believe that most of them express themselves for good reasons, and we believe they will be able to show their maturity and used this opportunity to express themselves in a civilised and polite manner," he added.

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