Thursday, June 6, 2013

Shahidan says temporary space to be arranged in Parliament for NGOs to meet MPs

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are welcome to come to Parliament, but should be mindful of the space restrictions due to renovation, clarified Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim.

Shahidan, who had earlier received flak for purportedly barring people from Parliament, said that his earlier statements had been misinterpreted and his concern was that of space.

"It's not true that I wanted to disallow NGOs from entering. Please don't misunderstand. NGOs can of course come to meet their wakil rakyat (representative). My only concern is that of space.

"Parliament is currently undergoing renovation and the new building is very small. Consideration should be given to the elected members of Parliament and media, who are often cramped into a small space," he told

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He added that in 2016 when renovation was complete, larger groups of people holding press conferences at Parliament "should be okay".

In the meantime, the number of people given entry to hold press conferences would be limited.

The Umno lawmaker said he would never consider denying the rakyat access to Parliament.

"They are rakyat Malaysia," he said.

Shahidan, who is also MP for Arau, said he was looking into setting up a temporary space within the Parliament grounds for NGOs to meet their elected representatives.

"I'm an NGO man - I've presidencies in six NGOs. I'm not crazy or stupid, why would I deny NGOs access to Parliament? It's just that in such cramped quarters like Parliament's media area, priority must be given to MPs and newsmen," he said.

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