Cases of Information Refusal

Access to information is one of the key aspects of a healthy democracy. Allowing people to seek and receive public documents serve as a critical tool for enhancing transparency, accountability and service delivery.

Broadcast Commission's Chair Badur Naseer (R), Vice Chair Shaheeb (L)

The Constitution of the Maldives guarantees right to information held by offices, officials and by private bodies that carry out activities that affect the public in general.
Nevertheless, time and again various Government offices, public and private institutions and officials refuse or fail to facilitate journalists and media organizations access to information.
Regrettably, both the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) and the Maldives Media Council (MMC) have been so far silent on these issues. MBC also has a mandate to establish public service broadcasting, while MMC has a mandate to advocate and stand guard to protect the rights of free media and promote strong press.
MJA believes that with the lack of strong voice and active role by MBC and MMC may have only exacerbated an ongoing situation.
Number of media organizations have been repeatedly singled out and discriminated in receiving information. Some high-level public officials including Government ministers have been telling that they do not want to provide information to those Media Organizations who do not entertain or propagates as they wants. A recent statement by Minister of Finance Ahmed Inaz, shown repeatedly on Dhi-TV on 18th of June, also may suggest the attitude of these officials towards media.
Maldives Journalist Association urges MBC and MMC to become proactive in their responsibilities in promoting freedom of information, and help to change a culture of secrecy. MJA also urges these two regulatory bodies to hold accountable any official who refuse to share information and discriminate any media organization.


Commonwealth workshop promoting dialogue between government and opposition begins in Malé

A Regional workshop promoting dialogue between government and opposition begins in Maldives on Monday.

The 3-day workshop jointly organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, which is the first workshop of its kind in Maldives brings together members of parliament and other senior politicians from ruling and opposition parties from Commonwealth countries in Asia.

Parliament Speaker Shaahid speaks at the opening ceremony at the Ballroom of Traders Hotel

A broad range of issues will be discussed during the next three days reflecting the fact that government and opposition parties are the fundamental building blocks of a strong and effective parliament.

Speaking at the opening ceremony Commonwealth Deputy Secretary General Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba said Government and opposition have to see themselves as partners.

“Government and opposition parties therefore need to find ways of working constructively together. It is important to remember that today’s government may be tomorrow’s opposition. Political parties represented in parliament need to see themselves as partners in the development of the democratic process” said Ms. Mmasekgoa.

The Speaker of the Maldives People’s Majlis (Parliament) Abdulla Shahid, who also spoke at the opening of the workshop, called on the government and opposition to rise above their differences to offer hope to citizens.

“We need to live up to their expectations and aspirations. Our role is to carve out a better life for our people through the laws we design. Our duty is to hold the government accountable by upholding the Constitution. In short, our role as the legislature is to enforce democracy, not fail it,” said Mr Shahid.

He stated that democracy is in a state of infancy in Maldives and acknowledged that it is the responsibility of Members of Parliament to consolidate young democratic institutions to serve the interests of the people by paving the way for social justice and equity.

Mr Shahid said Maldives faces challenges in consolidating democracy and expressed appreciation for the Commonwealth’s support in promoting democracy, good governance and institution building.

Representatives of Maldives governing MDP and main opposition parties are attending the workshop.

According to Commonwealth Secretariat the workshop is also attended by selected resource persons, civil society representatives and observers from regional and international partner organisations of the Commonwealth.

Indian High Commission displays paintings of Buddha in Maldives

Recently I was able to walk-in to an art exhibition organized by Indian High Commission at Maldives National Art Gallery located in the northeast corner of Sultan Park. The exhibition went on from 2nd – 12th of June. It came in to spotlight as I was walking to Islamic Center for prayers — I saw the big banner hanging down at the entrance of the ‘Chinese aid’ building.

portrait of Buddha being displayed at the Art Exhibition held by Indian High Commission in Maldives

After prayers I was returning back from mosque. There I met an old friend and both decided to go into the Art Gallery to find out what actually the exhibition portraits. This is my 1st visit to the new building of Maldives National Art Gallery.

Many large canvases were hung in the gallery. We were just giving the first impression of it one at a time.  Some of them don’t illustrate anything except a topic. Later we noticed it as a contemporary art exhibition. Nothing has been in detail. Except three paintings, all rest were contemporary art works. The three fine art works which we found were well drawn with stunning colors often seen in the South Asian’s sub continental countries.  But the alarming thing was all three depicts Indian Gods and Goddesses.

Another portrait displaying South Asian's Hindu and Buddhist idols

You might remember recently Maldives Customs seized statues brought in to the country to be used as decoration items at a spa. They seized it because it was iconic to those you found in Thailand’s temples. Likewise these portraits show unerringly the image of Buddha. But I wonder why they [authorities] allowed Indian High Commission to displaying them at a public exhibition.

The exhibition was inauguration by President Nasheed and, at the time we went there one of his close aid, and a family relative, Health Minister’s husband ‘Sikka’ was promoting the ongoing French festival in the same premises.

The brochure   given to us says, all the paintings came from the “Puducherry Blue”, the artist’s camp at Puducherry, India which was held under the auspices of ICCR in 2011, with a view to bring together artists from the South Asian region. The camp gave creative artists from nine South Asian nations – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka a platform to interact and mingle each other socially through the medium of art.

“By exhibiting these works in Maldives, The High Commission of India expects further interaction among the art lovers based on the styles and sensibilities that bench marked the creativity of the artists”, noted in the preface of the brochure.

The aim is very perfect. However, they have somehow manage to symbolize their Gods in our National Art Gallery. Nobody tend to notice this. Nobody cares. This is how Indian High Commission tries to influence their smallest neighbor, displaying their idols, putting their religious festivals at Public arenas like Dharubaaruge and so on.

After all present government of Maldives has take-up trade and bilateral relations of the two nations to a high elevation, bringing new investors like GMR to Maldives while Indian Government has offered huge sum of loan and grant packagers to the President Nasheed’s Government, everyone knows kind influence Indian would be pounding on us. Authorities are silent as Indian High Commission is continuously arranging Hindu Religious and Cultural festivals mainly focusing to huge number of Indian workers living in the country.

During previous regime every thing has to be conformed in prior to the event. needs to organize such events in the Maldives they have to submit their plan, drawings, and films, Posters and such other items to Maldives Censure Board before being displayed in the public arenas.

Gayoom attempts to reform his party

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom for the first time in months addressed his supporters of opposition DRP’s Z-faction on Wednesday evening, reiterating his calls for the need of reforming his very own party.

Marking the seventh anniversary of the democratic reform package which he announced in June 9, 2011, he went on to say that even way before he came to power there wasn’t any such thing called democracy in the country adding that unfortunately even today it’s the same.

Former President Gayoom addressing the gathering held to mark 7th anniversary of his democratic reform package

Gayoom said the main aim of establishing and strengthening the democratic institutions are to refrain citizens from deliberate act of political intimidation adding that it is a system that gives guarantee to all that no one will have to face any form of threat or punishment from the regime as long as they abide by the law.

“[in a country] where citizens kept in fear cannot be regarded as a democratic system“, Gayoom said.

Separation of power, establishing independent judiciary, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech along with forming political parties were some of the fundamentals of his reform package.

However, he says, some of the democratic reforms which he tried to thrive during the later years of his regime since has derailed from its track and its pillars are now in ruin. In his speech he highlighted some of the oppressions carried out by then President Ibrahim Nasir’s regime and went on to exemplify how he was given a sentence of four year banishment to a remote island after having been convicted for simply expressing political views inside his residence in Malé. He said during early days of his 30 year old regime he concentrated on two main elements of development, educating the people and build a vibrant economy. He insisted by saying from the very outset he has started institutionalizing government’s structure in line with democratic principles.

Highlighting some of the difficulties facing his own party, he said, “there is a great need of democratic reforms within DRP, members of the party has to decide whether to hold a national conference to restructure party leadership and if they decide so I will be also ways with the party members in support of holding such a conference”.

“Handing over the [party] leadership [putting] on a tray is the biggest mistake I have made. Now I am not going to repeat the same mistake”, Gayoom said recalling how he handed over party’s leadership to present leader Thasmeen. He said things didn’t went that smartly and smoothly ever since Thasmeen took the leadership. He went on to say how party’s rules and regulations were put aside to expel one of the deputy leader Umar Naseer and claimed that party council is totally controlled by leader Thasmeen.

“In many democratic parties elsewhere, we see party leadership and party ticket being given through a popular vote of party members.  We also have to taking up similar principles giving way to reform the party through democratic consolidation”

“No matter who gets the party ticket for crucial 2013 election – my support will always stay with him”, said Gayoom. He stressed that this time he is not going to repeat the mistake by pointing out  a particular person to support.

A contradicting view of Gayoom’s comments later shared to press by DRP’s Thasmmen faction. Officials from DRP-Thasmeen faction told a press conference that Gayoom has no right to call for a national congress and, only the party council which was elected at the last congress has the sole power to decide on its future.

Commenting on Gayoom’s address, later President Nasheed’s Press Secretary blamed that former president is trying to make a comeback to active politics.

Another aspect of the guy recently sacked from mnbc over leaked photographs of Reeko Moosa

This is how I know Muaa. One of my close friend, a girl known as Shiza (not the real name) joined Youth-TV with lot of enthusiasm, creative knowledge and with a strong ambition of building a firm career in the field. At the time the young 18 year old girl was doing some screen testing before doing on-camera shooting for a major youth TV show. A day before the scheduled shooting, she met me in a coffee shop and told me her part of story or experience with Muaa. First she was interviewed by Muaa and let her in, after that he started inviting her for tea. Start if off with concepts of TV programmes and end up by proposing her. She told me that very often he used to send love text messages and offer her to go out with him. At the time she was seriously dating with another friend of mine working in an airline. Later she couldn’t withstand the mounting pressure from him and, as she rejected to hold his hands, she became the worst employee for him. At last she quit her job. According to her, many young girls joining Youth-TV had to face similar kind of behavior from him forcing them to quit ultimately. She went on explaining him as a psycho.

This is just another aspect of the guy recently sacked from MNBC over allegation of leaking the photos of MDP parliamentary leader Reeko Moosa Manik playing with the restricted video archive of MNBCONE (former TVM).

I have to disagree with most of the sympathizing comments posted on local online newspapers following the publication of the article about the dismissal of head of Youth-TV, Ibrahim Muaaz. This person has a history of being disloyal to his employers, always tries to get the big piece of cake.

He was 1st sacked from TVM back in Kutti Nasheed’s days for allegedly releasing inside informations of the organization on a website known as Kakkakaako. However, he won a court case against TVM and got the opportunity to regain his job but apparently avoid doing so and joined first ever privet TV channel, DhiTV. As a gift from then MD Khaleel he was let in to MNBC. And many producers knew him as a secret agent of the management. After some times, Khaleel launched YouthTV and gave it to him, creating a morality disaster among much capable TV producers of then TVM under MNBC.

On Many occasions he has been spotted as a vocal critic of opposition MPs and activists as what was told by some of his former colleagues. I believe at the verge of losing state media to MBC he played a game in the hope of getting an easy entry ticket to new company, in which apparently the lead role was given to Rekoo Mosaa Manik. Another possibility could be former MD Khaleel, who failed to make it to MBC board of directors in fact, told him to go and get the photos and leak it to local media who failed to make it to MBC board of directors. Everyone knows that what kind of links he has with former MD who is identified as one of the shareholders of Business magnate Champaa’s Radio outlet DhiFM which is a sister company of DhiTV who break the story of the leaked photographs of MP Mosaa Manik active in MNBC archive.

Anyway, don’t take it so seriously, this is just my imaginations. My thoughts might have some true aspects of the untold story which was never highlighted by the press. I believe this is just another publicity stunt. Muaa’s story was covered by almost every media outlet in the Maldives giving him enough publicity. In the past he showed immense loyalty to MNBC board members in particular former MD Khaleel, however, turnout to be the real hypocrite. Wherever he goes he would remain the same.