The Maldives Broadcasting Commission has canceled the broadcasting license issued for TV5 Pvt Ltd after the channel failed to begin broadcasting within a year of issuing the license.
President Abdulla Yameen has called on military officials to maintain discipline and professional standards in their service.
“The state wants to make soldiers professional. The security of the state depends on the professionalism of soldiers.”
“Political ideology should not enter the ranks of soldiers,” said Yameen – the commander in chief of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF).
Yameen’s comments were made during a ceremony held in Malé to mark the 122nd anniversary of the military service in the Maldives. The occasion also saw the launch of the military’s own television station and the presentation of numerous awards.
Yameen said disciplinary action has to be taken in order to maintain professional standards. He noted that some “very honorable” members of the military lost their jobs recently, but that this has to be accepted as “the military way of life”.
Though the president noted that the military had gained the love and trust of Maldivians, he warned that such confidence was very fragile.
“The confidence in you from the state and citizens is not guaranteed in any way. It is a very delicate confidence, it is a very delicate contract.”
“Action take during a single incident could lose the society’ confidence in the military. Let us recall the recent past. 2012 presented a strong example of this from the military institution,” Yameen said.
During the ceremony, President Yameen launched MNDF’s official television channel ‘Addana TV’.
MNDF deputy spokesperson Captain Ali Ihsan told Minivan News today that the channel is currently being received only within the military premises and will be broadcast for the general public after the necessary license is acquired from the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC).
MBC has confirmed that MNDF has not yet registered any television channel for public broadcasting.
While programming is currently limited to just two hours, the future schedule will provide details on the activities of the military and raise awareness of laws, as well as providing entertainment.
The channel will be maintained by the Media and Publishing Service unit of the force and is currently being funded by “well wishers”, explained Ihsan, as well as the MNDF cooperative society SIFCO and its joint venture company SIWEC (owned 90 percent by SIFCO, and 10 percent by the government).
At last night’s ceremony, commendation letters and certificates were awarded to servicemen for various achievements, and honorary shields given to institutions, servicemen, and other individuals in recognition of their services.
Minister of Defence and National Security Colonel (Rt) Mohamed Nazim was honored with the ‘Sincere Service Medal’ for his services towards the development of the military service, the numerous opportunities provided for soldiers, and the “great amount of love for the military in his heart”.
Speaking at the ceremony, Nazim promised the modern and quality equipment necessary to improve the services of the military.
Chief of Defense Force Major General Ahmed Shiyam was also awarded with the same honor for productive works in his personal capacity, and his future plans to reform the military.
The ceremony was concluded with a special prayer and the official MNDF song.
National media body figureheads have called on journalists to act more professionally to prevent future confrontations between themselves and the public.
Their comments follow a brutal attack on a senior reporter from the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)-aligned Raajje TV station, who was left in a critical condition.
The reporter, Ibrahim ‘Aswad’ Waheed, was attacked with an iron bar while riding on a motorcycle near the artificial beach area in the capital Male’.
Two Television Maldives (TVM) journalists were also attacked on the same night with an irritant – reported to be paint thinner in local media – while covering protests on Sosun Magu in Male’.
While no arrests have been reported by police, Maldives Police Service Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Hassan Haneef told Minivan News today that “progress” had been made in regard to the investigation.
Senior figures from both Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) and Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) have since said that journalists need to act in a more professional manner in order to help prevent future confrontations between the public and reporters.
MBC Vice President Mohamed Shahyb told Minivan News that journalists have been targeted because “hatred has been building” towards them over a long period of time.
“Some journalists are not doing their work professionally in the Maldives. The biggest problem is that they do not have much education or training [in journalism] and because of that they write anything.
“If the professional standard can be maintained, similar incidents can be contained and controlled,” Shahyb told Minivan News.
The MBC Vice President claimed that there are “too many opinions” leaking into news reports and that politicians need to start “pointing their fingers” at journalists who are not working in the correct manner.
“Social networking is also a big problem. Even if they work professionally, they then go onto social media sites and start expressing their own personal feelings, this is an issue,” Shahyb said.
MJA President, Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir, expressed similar concern, adding that journalists need to be more impartial with their reporting.
“We need to encourage media to be more objective. When we listen to the TV or radio we can’t tell the difference between an opinion piece or the actual news itself.”
On Saturday, Zahir requested the media to act more professionally and stop “spreading hatred”, while calling for police to give greater protection to journalists.
Meanwhile, President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik called on the media to “encourage stability, unity and harmony” in the country, adding that those responsible for the attacks will be brought to justice.
Police protection kits
Assistant Commissioner of Police Ahmed Saudhee told local media on Saturday that police will now provide safety equipment for journalists when covering protests, and that special efforts will be made to investigate and prosecute the attacks on persons of the media.
“Right now, we can do two things towards extending protection for journalists. As such, we will give special attention to investigate and prosecute the attacks made on the police, and we’ll work hastily to towards this end.
“Next, in order to cover the protests as closely as possible, we will provide the kits used by the police to a selected journalists, for their safety and protection,” Saudhee was quoted as saying in Sun Online.
Police Spokesperson Sub-Inspector Haneef told Minivan News today that the kits will be made available to journalists should they make a request for the equipment.
Maldivian journalists took to the streets of Male’ yesterday to protests against the recent attacks, joining international organisations who have also condemned the violence.
The United States Embassy in Colombo released a statement on Saturday expressing concern over the attacks on the journalists.
“Freedom of expression is a fundamental democratic right, and we strongly condemn these attacks on Maldives media personnel. We urge all Maldivians to refrain from violence, urge protesters and police to respect the right of all media outlets to cover demonstrations,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, the United Nations in the Maldives said the violence amounted to an attack on freedom of expression and merited “prompt investigations”.
President Mohamed Nasheed has appointed members to the Maldives Broadcasting Commission following their approval by parliament.
Members appointed were: Badhuru Naseer, Aishath Hana, Mohamed Shaheeb, Mariyam Shauqy, Ibrahim Ashraf, Moomina Adam and Abdulla Shujau.
Letters of appointment were presented at a ceremony held yesterday, during which the President emphasised the important of the media to governance and development, and urged the commission to take no action that would constrain media freedom.