President Mohamed Nasheed has said that the Maldives intends to be “the best country in the world in terms of press freedom.”
In a message to the Commonwealth media development workshop, a four day training event that started this morning at Holiday Inn in Male’, Nasheed said the government wanted the Maldives to have “the most free and most professional media in the world.”
”We strongly believe that press freedom is important for consolidating democracy,” said Nasheed. ”We also believe that development can only be achieved through a transparent and free discussion of ideas.”
Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ahmed Ali Sawad, and President of Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir also addressed participants in the workshop.
Secretary General of Commonwealth Kamalesh Sharma, in his message to the participants, highlighted the role of journalism in the society and explained how important a balanced news article was.
”Journalism is an honourable profession,” Sharma said. ”You can hold accountable both the government and the private sector.”
He said that members of the press played a pivotal role in revealing the truth and upholding the values and principles that would lead to a just society.
In his address, Dr Sawad said journalists in the Maldives “are not responsible”, and urged them to be more professional, sophisticated and accountable.
Dr Sawad said that in the past the free pens of the Maldivian journalists were held hostage.
”But today we are seeing what we dreamed we would see in the 80s,” Sawad said. ”Now we have a new constitution and new legislation.”
He urged journalists at the workshop to convey the truth with their pens, adding that ”the government will not let you down.”
The Commonwealth media workshop is a four day event being conducted by the Commonwealth in collaboration with Maldives Journalists Association (MJA). Around 25 local journalists are taking part, including Minivan News.