Atoll before the storm

2 May. The government of the Maldives had decided to hold a celebration in honour of World Press Freedom Day, and had chosen a state-of-the-art slogan: 'Press Forward Maldives'. President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was on the dais, under a banner that proclaimed World Press Freedom, and Minister for Information Mohamad Nasheed was at the podium, emphasising the need for "free and responsible media to promote the presidential agenda for reform and democracy".

Press freedom, declared Minister Nasheed, clearly a bright-eyed boy of the ageing president, "cannot be used to whip up divisions and disaster, cannot dehumanise and destroy the delicate fabric of our small community". He stressed the need for professionalism and "decorum".

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Himal Southasian
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