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The Sultans of Spin 2009

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Jane CadzowWe all agree there should be a considerable difference between advertising/spin/propaganda, and honest investigative ‘journalism.’  

The journalistic (AJA) Code of Ethics incorporates ideals such as:

Truth; The public's right to information; Independence; Disclosure of all essential facts; Don’t suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis;    Do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics; attribute information to its source;  Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence;    Disclose conflicts of interest;    Do not allow advertising or other commercial considerations to undermine accuracy, fairness or independence;     Disclose payment made for interviews, pictures, information or stories;   Present pictures and sound which are true and accurate- Any manipulation likely to mislead should be disclosed;   Do not plagiarise.
Journalists scrutinise and exercise power and should be accountable;
Only substantial advancement of the public interest or risk of substantial harm to people allows any standard to be overridden.   (source)

 

Well, I’m sure we’ve all had a good laugh after reading the ‘ethics.’

In the West Australian - 16th June 2001, Jane Cadzow wrote an article ‘The Sultans of Spin’ where she describes:
..the invisible hand behind much of the news, the sophisticated spin machine…more than half the stories in Australian newspapers are generated by PR practitioners… the art of "spin" is presenting facts in such a way that they support whatever line you are espousing. From there, it's only a short step to concealing inconvenient information.  
Poverty - MaldivesSadly, we are often blissfully unaware that spin-doctors manipulate the media, assuming the content of our newspapers is factual. Cadzow notes a statement by Dr Sharon Beder (referring to environmentally damaging products, but equally applicable to social and political situations):
"it is easier and less costly to change the way people think about reality than it is to change reality."
She notes the lucrative business of polishing the public image of repressive governments, and observes:
the stories produced as a result of their (PR, spin) efforts are essentially advertisements dressed up to look like news. And whereas we tend to be sceptical of claims made in paid advertisements, we're more trusting about information conveyed to us by journalists.  
Such spin extends to efforts to stifle debate and silence critics.   Journalists are excused on the basis that they no longer have time to research stories, so rely on information given to them.  
 
Former spin-doctor Eric Sparling says some public relations specialists:
‘are actively engaged in promoting causes they know are detrimental to consumers, the environment and democracy. ‘ (source)
Ms Cadzow is a journalist whose work has been described as ‘thoughtful and probing’, and she has been nominated for human rights awards. So it is puzzling that she writes in such glowing terms of Dubai (Dubai – Paradise for Aussies?) and the Maldives (“Paradise in Peril”, Age Good Weekend 4/4.09)
 
The media make extensive use of PR and spin to promote Islam, covering up its myriad ‘inconvenient truths.’   Ms Cadzow’s work concentrates on the luxury and the ‘high life’ of Dubai and the Maldives, while skating over the unpleasant reality.
 
Her recent article on the Maldives reads like a holiday brochure.  We are subjected to ‘sunlight sparkles on limpid lagoons and a faint tropical breeze stirs the fronds of the coconut palms’.  There’s the barefoot barmen bringing cocktails, the suntans and the snorkelling.

Is this another attempt to link tropical paradises and Islam, just as Waleed Aly attempted to link a tropical paradise like the Maldives with Islam (See Circe:Island Paradise or Islamic Hell?)

We are told that the new leader is ‘democratically elected’ and has an “English public school accent and boyish smile” (reminiscent of her lyrical descriptions of Dubai’s ruler Maktoum as having “lashes like Bambi”).  
 
Cadzow stunningly asserts: “The battle for Democracy in the Maldives may have been won...” (p14), revealing that her take on ‘democracy’ is clearly different from ours.

Has Ms Cadzow read the new constitution of the Maldives?    She was commended for ‘human rights awards’, so did she not notice the human rights abuses embedded in the constitution and sharia law?   Was she not shocked to read how the government, religion and law all reinforce the other, so a person who chooses to follow another religion (not Islam) commits a crime and faces jail, ‘re-education’, loss of citizenship, family, property, job or worse!
The New constitution (LINK)
 
 
Maldives - New President
Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse and the new Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed
 
Under Article 9d, ‘a non-Muslim cannot become a citizen of the Maldives’ (over-riding ‘no citizen shall be deprived of citizenship’), immediately removing citizenship from around 3000 Maldivians (0.85% of population).  This is legal discrimination and against OUR democratic ideals of  freedom of religion, conscience, thought and speech.  
Proselytising of other religions is also forbidden! (reference)

Surely Cadzow would agree that democracy must encompass religious freedom and human rights?

Is she aware that sharia is the supreme authority and that the rights and freedoms of citizens are limited according to Islamic dictates and for the protection of Islamic tenets? ie don’t dare question Islam or dare ignore its dictates or the state will punish you.   

The principles of a ‘modern liberal democracy’ and ‘Islam’ are clearly incompatible.  
 
Hence the claim of the previous President, Gayoom, that the new Constitution would provide civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights in accordance with international standards (3) was nothing but words to fool the West.
 
And fooled we are, as few bother to read the constitution at all. Others skim for buzz words, such as “democracy, rights, freedom”, but never read carefully. Still others want to hide the ‘inconvenient truth’ that this is nothing more than a totalitarian document in PC clothing.

Their so-called ‘bill of rights,’ constitution and democracy denies many freedoms we take for granted.   Being able to choose between Muslim leader A or B does not amount to democracy!

Old and "New"
Gayoom and Nasheed cast their votes in the last presidential election - purely cosmetic change

Islam is the state religion and the basis of all laws. No law contrary to Islam can be enacted (Article 10).
The Parliament (majlis) can pass legislation limiting rights and freedoms “to protect and maintain the tenets of Islam” and leaves the ‘extent of limitation’ to ‘Islamic’ courts! (Article 16)
 “Islamic Shari’ah” is applied in relation to criminal, civil, personal and other matters! (Article 274)

Article 17 tries to fool us by giving everyone rights and freedoms without discrimination of any kind, but fails to mention that this only applies to sunni Muslims, as discrimination based on religion is part of the constitution!

Life, liberty and security is promised in Article 21 but only in accordance with Islam (article 16) .    
There’s no religious liberty if you wish to remain a citizen and keep your job, property, children etc and no liberty to step outside Islamic dictates!

"A citizen is free to engage in any conduct or activity that is not expressly prohibited by Islamic Shari'ah or by law. No control or restraint may be exercised against any person unless it is expressly authorised by law." (Article 19)  
Logically, if people must adhere to sharia, then clearly Islamic ‘morals’ and practices become law and will be policed!

Despite being contrary to sharia, there is supposed ‘equality’ before the law, (Article 20), while the claimed  "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought and the freedom to communicate opinions and expression in a manner that is not contrary to any tenet of Islam."(Article 27) is a joke.

Supposed freedom of the press (Article 28), the freedom to acquire and impart knowledge, information and learning"(Article 29) and freedom of association (Article 30), are invalidated by demands that all must comply with sharia (eg Article 19, 16).
You can think and say what you like as long as its pro-Islamic, but don’t dare question, criticise or suggest alternative ideas!

Article 32 guarantees freedom of peaceful assembly, but as all must be Muslim, any right to peaceful assembly (worship) for Buddhists, Christians clearly doesn’t apply.

Education is Islamic indoctrination:
"Education shall strive to inculcate obedience to Islam, instil love for Islam, foster respect for human rights, and
promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all people."(Article 36c)
Right under sharia
Rights under sharia??

Citizens must promote and protect Islam:
" . . . it is the responsibility of every citizen" …”to promote democratic values and practices in a manner that is not inconsistent with any tenet of Islam”…”to preserve and protect the State religion of Islam, culture, language and heritage of the country.” (Article 67).

Spin DoctorsHow do you promote human rights and tolerance when alternative ideas and beliefs are forbidden and apostasy from Islam is punished?
 
Citizens are compelled to preserve the religion and culture imposed on them. Their original ancient Buddhist culture (1000 BC till Islam took over in the 12th century AD!) and Indian heritage has been obliterated by Islam.
Ms Cadzow refers only to the rule by sultans (Islam), ignoring the long previous history (p18).  

The government and law enforce Islam:

The President, Vice president, Cabinet/ministers, Parliament, Attorney General, Judges etc must all be sunni Muslims (Articles 109b, 112c, 130a3, 73a3, 133a, 149b1) and they can be removed if they violate a tenet of Islam  (Article 90, 100a1.)
But sex with little girls as wives and beating your wife is presumably OK, as both are allowed in Islam.

Supposedly ‘independent judges’ are told they must consider the constitution, law and Islamic sharia (Article 142)
 
The term ‘Rule of Law’ is used (eg articles 132g, 133), but clearly means something different in the Maldives.  In the West, ‘Rule of Law’ includes the protection of individuals and minorities, but there are no ‘minorities in the Maldives as everyone is forced to be Muslim!    There is no protection of individuals from the state, as the state acts against individuals to enforce religious laws, despite the claim that the state and its security services protect the peace, security and FREEDOM of Maldivians!

Superficially, the constitution looks like a copy of Western government, with elections, parliament, a civil service, judiciary, prosecutor general, anti-corruption and human rights commissions and supposed independence and impartiality. But over-lying it all is the demand that all be Muslim and comply with religious laws and tenets.   This is not democracy or freedom, but a totalitarian Islamic state.
 
Ignoring its totalitarian nature, then Information Minister Mohamed Nasheed claimed in August 2008 that the new Constitution would catapult the Maldives into the ranks of established democracies. (1)
 
Admittedly, ploughing through the 114 pages of the constitution is boring and drinking a glass of Traminer while lying in your deckchair is far preferable. However, I would have though it essential reading for someone making pronouncements on the ‘battle for democracy in the Maldives.’ Cadzow notes that:
  “500 metres away, would be an island where people were being beaten.... The tourists were completely oblivious.”(p 18)
Well, I have news for Ms Cadzow; people are still being beaten, eg women and children (as beating is allowed under sharia), or those who show interest in another religion.   Perhaps she missed the information on violence (including sexual violence) to women and children in this ‘paradise’ due to the application of sharia!  She seems under the impression that persecution has ended because they voted for a new leader.   Does she know anything about sharia law?
 
Of course the inconvenient truth must be hidden, so let’s switch quickly to ‘climate change’ (p19). Even Gayoom is praised for turning the Maldives into a luxury resort, and for his efforts on climate change and signing Kyoto.  He was called “the godfather of environmental awareness” (p19).   Climate change and luxury resorts hide the human rights abuses written into the constitution of the Maldives.
 
Cadzow gives us details of the luxury, the bathrooms and restaurants, along with her stereotyping of the guests - the Germans (industrialists), Russians,  (gangsters), Japanese (creep about in pairs pointing digital cameras, overwhelmed..)(p 17).  She enthuses about the huge array of martinis and asks a waiter what alcohol she should drink with her food (many workers are Maldivians!) seemingly unconcerned that Maldivians cannot choose what they can drink as alcohol is banned!  While “under a frangipani tree strung with lanterns” she suddenly realises “there are no Maldivians staying at the resort –the only locals on the premises are doing the fetching and carrying.”

“They call it the hospitality industry” the new President says later, in a good humoured way, “but these are re-invented butlers.   It’s just a nice name for colonial servants.”(p18)
Cadzow seems unconcerned that 50% of the population live below a dollar a day (p19) while Nasheed, one of the elite, sneers at the Maldivians’ attempts to earn a living by referring to them as ‘reinvented butlers’ and ‘colonial servants’, serving a dual purpose of abusing the West at the same time! (Don’t mention slaves of Islam!)  This is an appalling attitude, as ‘hospitality’ is an industry practised across the world where people are trained and obtain honourable employment with the same dignity as other occupations!
 
One might wonder where the wealth from the tourist industry goes.  Tourism employs 1/3 of the Maldivian workforce (p19) and provides 70% of the Maldivian income (p17), yet the well-off Nasheed uses derogatory terms for impoverished Maldivian workers.   If he finds the tourist industry so objectionable, let him shut it down!

In the resorts there is freedom, wealth, and alcohol while in the Maldives proper there is great poverty, no freedom, as all must adhere to Islam, and no alcohol.

While she notes the violence done to certain journalists, particularly current leader Nasheed during Gayoon’s reign, she doesn’t touch on the wider violence to women, children or any who want to follow their own beliefs or conscience or question Islamic text and laws.  Given the new constitution, such violence and control will continue.   Why will anything change just because a privileged son of an old money clan connected by marriage and business interests has taken over?   Islam is a political ideology, so any who dare challenge it will be political prisoners under the NEW constitution.

But let’s not look at the reality of the Maldives, which denies human rights and freedoms and is a totalitarian repressive Islamic state like Saudi Arabia. Better to give the spin doctors full rein to call it a democracy and sell its luxury tourist resorts...don’t ask any hard questions and you won’t get any hard-to-swallow answers!  

Cadzow admits her flights and accommodation are courtesy of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, which would be fine if she had clearly written an advertisement for a luxury holiday resort. But this is SPIN because it poses as a factual article. To sell the totalitarian Islamic Maldives as a ‘democracy’, while failing to expose the fundamental abuses of human rights and freedom written into their constitution and laws amounts to concealing the facts from the reader. The inconvenient truth was hidden, perhaps because Ms Cadzow relied too heavily on information fed to her.

Another Traminer please and will I move my deckchair on the sand or not?


References:
1)  BBC: Maldives adopt new constitution

2)  Cadzow, Jane:   Paradise in Peril.   Age.  Good Weekend  4/4/09.   P14-19.

3) The President ratifies the new Constitution Reference Number: 2008-423. 7 August 2008
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 April 2009 02:41  

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