The Maldives this week launched official celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of broadcasting within the nation, as one international press freedom association raised concerns over national commitments to independent media.
Vice President Waheed Deen on Monday (July 9) launched what is expected to be a series of “golden jubilee” celebratory events to commemorate the beginning of national broadcasting on December 29, 1962, according to the President’s Office website.
Speaking at a ceremony to unveil a new logo and song that will be used to publicise a half century of state radio broadcasts under the Voice of Maldives (VOM) service, the vice president played up the importance of providing factual information to the public and giving “both sides of a story”.
Deen – owner of the Bandos Island Resort and Spa – also used his speech to play up that the Maldives must keep in mind that it remained as Islamic nation when addressing issues of development and advancement, the President’s Office added.
The Vice President’s comments were made as international non-profit organisation, the committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), alleged concerns that press freedom was “deteriorating” under the present government of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan.
“Reports of police brutality against journalists amid political chaos, and a vicious attack for writing about religious tolerance, are disturbing signs that the Maldives is backsliding on press freedom,” CPJ Senior Researcher Madeline Earp wrote on the organisation’s blog.
“[The president] must ensure that journalists are free to report if he wishes to distance himself from [Maumoon Abdul] Gayoom’s legacy and stabilise the nation for elections.”
Just yesterday, the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) condemned the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for “obstructing” reporters and appealed for media representatives to refrain from taking part in protests.