President of independent commission BroadCom serves as MC at govt. function

President of Maldives Broadcasting Commission (BroadCom), Mariyam Waheeda (Mary) at the Burabi function held by Tourism Ministry on December 17, 2019. (Sun Photo/Ahmed Awshan Ilyas)

The sight of former Maldives Broadcasting Commission (BroadCom) vice president Fathmath Zaina arranging chairs for a function organized by the President’s Office for local senior citizens to meet then-President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had drawn media attention and along with it, intense public scrutiny.

The most critical had been opposition politicians who now serve in senior positions within the current administration. MDP had filed an emergency motion with the Parliament questioning Zaina’s integrity over her involvement in a government function despite being a member of an independent commission.

The party, using the supermajority which it now enjoys at the Parliament, had dismissed Zaina citing her political bias in October.

The tables have turned since Zaina was infamously seen arranging chairs for a government function. MDP is in power. PPM is now the opposition. But the scene remains the same.

Veteran presenter, Mariyam Waheeda (Mary), who was recently appointed BroadCom’s president, served as master of ceremonies during the function held by Tourism Ministry to announced local islands available for tourism development.

Mary, an experienced and respected presenter popular for her skills in engaging with the audience and rejuvenating even the dreariest of affairs, had been in her element during Tuesday’s function. She praised the work of the Tourism Ministry and pioneers in the local tourism industry in simple sentences.

“We always talk about transparency, about good governance,” said Mary, in the middle of her presentation.

Mary’s skills and experience as a presenter are beyond reproach. However, the fact remains that she is now the head of an independent State institution.

It puts her impartiality and the impartiality of the entire BroadCom into question. These questions, which were previously asked by MDP, is now being asked by PPM.

Maduvvari MP Adam Shareef Umar noted in a tweet this Wednesday that the MDP had accused PPM of influencing independent institutions when PPM had been power.

“Is BroadCom functioning independently now? Isn’t it under the influence of the government?” asked Shareef.

Mary was not immediately available for comment regarding the issue.

The decision by the head of BroadCom to serve as a MC at a government function comes at the heels of criticism over the decision to appoint MDP activist Ahmed Gais to the commission – providing further fuel to allegations of government influence over the media watchdog.

Gais, who lacks any experience in the media, had previously served as president of MDP’s Thinadhoo branch, and MDP representative at the G. Dh. Atoll Council. He had even run in the MMP parliamentary election primaries. He is now the BroadCom vice president.

The players may have changed, but the scene remains the same.