Hill & Knowlton Challenged Over Maldives Work

In an overview of the changes occurring in the Maldives, a cluster of islands to the southwest of India, reporter Meera Selva sketches how the repressive president, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, is failing to respond to the either the democracy movement or the growing influence of Islamic fundamentalism. "The government is aware that the problems facing ordinary Maldivians may affect its tourism industry, but its response has been cynical rather than hopeful," Selva writes. Tim Fallon from Hill and Knowlton's London office has been working for Gayoom's government, to prevent a tourism boycott in response to controversies over police brutality and the lack of multi-party elections. Hill & Knowlton is reportedly on a £13,000 (US$24,000) a month retainer. Speaking on BBC Radio, Maldives democracy activist Jenny Latheef said, "I don't know why Hill & Knowlton would support somebody like that. He's a dictator, a brutal dictator."