Military labels global corruption survey a “baseless” attack on its reputation

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has labelled the results of Transparency Maldives’ recently released Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) survey “baseless”.

Criticising local media outlet CNM’s coverage of the report, the MNDF called it “highly irresponsible journalism to publish such news without verifying the facts of it. We also call on media to refrain from publishing such news in the future.”

The survey – reported widely across local media – revealed the results of a random sample of 1,002 people interviewed via telephone on their perceptions of corruption and bribery in the country.

Whilst not perceived by respondents to have been the most corrupt organisation in the country, the military appeared fifth on the list, with 34percent of those interviewed viewing the MNDF as ‘extremely corrupt’.

“While the Maldivian Army has a respectful, pride-filled history, and while every soldier in this force is one who prioritises the nation above self and works with heart and soul to serve this nation, we condemn acts of this manner which aims to hurt the institution’s reputation, create mistrust in the institution, and to incite hatred and discord in citizens’ hearts towards this institution,” responded the MNDF today (dhivehi).

The Majlis topped the GCB’s list with 60 percent feeling it to be ‘extremely corrupt’, followed by political parties (57 percent), the judiciary (55 percent) and the police (also 34 percent). The leading statistic featured in the report was that 83 percent of respondents felt that corruption had not improved – or had worsened – in the past two years.

Recently appointed Home Minister Umar Naseer last week sanctioned the removal of any material inciting hatred towards the police, who have made no comment on the GCB today.

Transparency Maldives’ Advocacy and Communications Manager Aiman Rasheed told Minivan News today that the survey was based on a globally accepted methodology.

“The GCB is reviewed by a panel of experts at Transparency International Secretariat, including independent experts. The methodology is sound.”

Rasheed noted that 79% of the people said that the MNDF was corrupt, up from 54% in the GCB published in Jan 2012.

“As to the reasons why, the perception of corruption is tied to the events and happenings in the country. The events in 2012 and 2013 may not have helped build confidence.”

“The important take away is that the perception of corruption in an institution is a measure of trust and confidence in the institution of MNDF,” added Rasheed.

The MNDF’s outburst marks the second time this month that the media has been attacked for reporting on the military. Last week, the Defence Ministry ministry threatened to take action against any media outlets attempting to criticise the military’s disciplinary policies.

A series of dismissals from within the military have followed the inauguration of President Abdulla Yameen, the election of whom came at the end of a protracted election process which, including one annulled vote and the extension of predecessor President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s term beyond the constitutionally mandated deadline.

During the electoral crisis, a letter signed by 17 high-ranking officers – which expressed concern over possible repercussions in the absence of a president-elect by the end of the presidential term on November 11 – was leaked on social media.

Mainstream media reporting of this letter prompted Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim – since re-appointed – to accuse those outlets concerned of illegally “sowing discord and disorder in the military”.

Several officers were suspended, demoted and transferred following the letter and the MNDF amended its regulations to punish any soldier who “incited upheaval and chaos.”

The following month, 73 mid ranking officers circulated an appeal calling on fellow soldiers not to obey any “unlawful” orders issued by President Waheed or his political appointees.