In the keynote address at the ceremony jointly hosted by Maldives Media Council and the Maldivian media to commemorate World Press Freedom Day 2011, President Mohamed Nasheed pledged to stand firm with Maldivian media in their efforts to overcome the challenges they face.
The President, while acknowledging that the right to freedom of opinion and expression was enshrined in the new Constitution that the Maldives adopted in 2008, underscored that the Constitution was the result of great sacrifices and hard work of many Maldivians.
He further said the new Constitution was the result of struggles for freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom for peaceful political activism in the country.
“Therefore, in reality, the spirit of this Constitution is based on the needs and the primary concerns of the people back then,” he said.
“We no longer have those concerns, to that extent. Now our concerns are different,” he added.
He said the lack of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of political activism were the primary concerns of the people when the Constitution was being written.
The President, underlining the media’s role as the fourth estate of the state, the President said the government was committed to extend the power of media as the fourth pillar of the state to its full length.
He said the restrictions on freedom of expression when media was controlled by one single business tycoon were no less compared to the restrictions on freedom of expression under a dictatorial regime.
He expressed hope that reporters believed that they should have editorial independence and freedom to report news as they saw it.
The President assured that there were no political opportunities he would seek by suppressing the media.