The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has claimed the government has “captured and rebranded” the state media, the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute between parliament and the government over which institution should have jurisdiction over the state broadcasters.
“Equal opportunity from state media is one of the basic characteristics of democracy,’’ said a statement issued by the DQP. “There is no one who would dispute that the most important [component] of a steady democracy is establishment of a free media.’’
The party accused the government of seizing the the assets of Television Maldives and Voice of Maldives, and refusing to transfer the assets to the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) which was established by the parliament to monitor the state media.
The party further claimed that the government was seeking to “mislead” people by rebranding the state broadcasters’ parent company to the ‘Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation’ (MNBC).
“This reveals the characteristics of a government that is uncivilised, stubborn and dictatorial,” the DQP statement said, concluding with a prayer “to protect [the country] from this kind of leadership.”
DQP claimed that when the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in the opposition, they were “always accusing the then government of misusing the state media.”
‘’As a result, MDP in their manifesto wrote in bold letters that they would establish a free media,’’ the statement said.
“It proves that MDP also wished for independent media before they came into power, however today we are witnessing that MDP has failed to fulfill their own pledges stated in their manifesto.’’
“After the bill on Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) was passed in the parliament and the board was appointed, the government realised that the board members were not the type of people that would stick to anything the government did, and they forgot what they had written in their manifesto,’’ DQP claimed. “Now the government is trying to prevent Voice of Maldives and Television Maldives from becoming independent.’’
MDP parliamentary group leader and MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik said that historically DQP had been against the MDP manifesto, but was now supporting it self-interestedly in parliament’s bid to take over state media.
“To me it’s a joke that all these days they have been against our manifesto, and then suddenly they point at it for their self-interest,’’ said Moosa, accusing the DQP of dictatorship in turn.