Old-Style Repression under 'New Maldives' Makeover

A Maldives news service criticizes the 'New Maldives' project launched by President Gayoom in October 2005 as "nothing more than an image make-over for an unpopular and authoritarian regime." The editorial notes that the opposition political party, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), has highlighted contradictions between the government's words and actions, including "government rhetoric over judicial reform while MDP Chairperson Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) is refused a fair trial" and "assertions over press freedom, while the Police Chief harasses foreign-based journalists." For several years, the PR firm Hill and Knowlton has promoted tourism to the Maldives, on behalf of the government. Hill and Knowlton plays a "seemingly central role" in the 'New Maldives' project and "remain [a] close advisor to the 'reform ministers'," according to the editorial.