MBC member under fire after Yameen event snaps emerge

Journalists and politicians have questioned the independence of a broadcasting commission member after she was pictured organising a campaign event for President Abdulla Yameen.

Fathimath Zaina, who worked as an aide to First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim before joining the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, was photographed handing out seating arrangements to people at a rally Monday night.

Zaina was approved as a commission member last year along with four other Yameen loyalists, despite strong objection from the journalist community.

She was an administrative officer at the presidential palace and the editor of the pro-government ‘Yageen’ magazine prior to taking up the post.

The Broadcasting Commission Act requires members to be “be individuals who maintain socially accepted moral standards, integrity, good conduct, impartiality”.

Opposition MPs Imthiyaz Fahmy and Rozaina Adam are now asking a parliament committee to consider removing Zaina from her position.

“Since Zaina has failed to fulfil her responsibilities impartially and in line with the people’s will, we believe that Zaina must be removed from her position. We ask the committee to investigate this matter as soon as possible,” read the motion. It was submitted to the committee tasked with overseeing independent institutions.

The politicians said her continued role in the re-election campaign was “completely contrary to the Broadcasting Act” and that it undermined the commission’s independence and impartiality.

“At a time when the commission is facing allegations of making unjust and politically influenced decisions; Zaina’s actions confirm and validates these accusations.”

On Sunday, Raajje TV was fined by the Broadcasting Commission for the third time. The station has accused the commission of unfairly targeting them.

“It’s  now becoming clear to everyone that the actions being taken against Raajje TV are in fact politically motivated,” Raajje TV’s Chief Operating Officer Hussain Fiyaz Moosa told the Maldives Independent.

“So we don’t believe she is a member (of the commission) anymore,” Fiyaz said, adding that Raajje TV plans to file complaints with the National Integrity Commission.

Zaina was not responding to calls for comment at the time of publication.

The emcee of Monday’s night’s event, billed as a meeting between Yameen and senior citizens, was Ikram Abdul Latheef, the deputy managing director of the state-owned Public Service Media.

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