The video that went viral in Utube of a Swiss couple who had their weddings renewed in the Vilu Reef resort, who got taunted insulted unwittingly at the ceremony as the ceremony was conducted in dhivehi (the local language), is generating quite big waves in otherwise a sleepy tourism industry in Maldives. The language used in the video is inexcusable is undeniable but there are more factors that needs to be explored. There indeed is more to the story than is acknowledged. Before we analysed the issue in detail, our heartfelt sincere apologies for wronged couple on behalf of all the workers of tourism industry. Our country also took hit on reputation by the foolish actions of a few fellow workers and we hope that this event will make everyone including the government work more to help the industry encounter the shortcomings and failings in the future. Resort workers are the most neglected bunch of workers in the country who are seldom cared, thanked or even entertained. In the vast majority of resort islands, the staff live below substandard pay, accommodation as well as food and other services. Resort workers are also human beings who have families and friends yet they sacrifice almost all their entire life on these tiny beautiful paradise islands which serves as their second home just as convicts who serve their time in isolation. Now lets analyse the story surrounding the incident.
1. The story first appeared in Minivan News from where its gone truly global now. The story is now taken up by http://www.vancouversun.com,Montreal Gazette,www.expatica.com,www.gulf-times.com etcHowever anyone who have really seen the article in Minivan News would agree that the article is excessive in its detail for a purpose. The article itself is a tiring long detailed tirade of ‘insults’ for the purpose of creating maximum shock value. Considering that the victim in this instance is not only the couple in the video (the whole country is also victim because this incident identifies with the country), the excessive details is just doing more harm to all the parties involved; the wedded couple, the country, the resort, the staff etc. The only party who benefits from this story is Minivan.
2.The story when it appears in global media got another twist and a make-over. Now it is about “Couple victim of hate video” -which is the headline at http://www.straitstimes.com. The said video was shot by a staff at the scene and was anything but. However when global media takes an issue every blemish is magnified multiple folds for a good reason. To reach maximum ratings and generate as much shock value. The amateur wedding video now termed a hate video interlaced with religious themes (which is useful vitriol) as if the video originated from Tora Bora. To make the matters worse some readers of Haveeru has indicated that they will put English subtitles to the video which will add insult to the injury.
3.Modern media is both a blessing and a curse. Media like everything else is controlled by people and people have different agendas. For some its a way of earning recognition and fame at the expense of others, be it against their own family or country. In the case of Minivan News, the paper had a non too a humble beginning, became at one point a full blown printed paper and then went into decline. Currently Minivan is said to be run at a desk inside the office of the president by people who are close to him. However the genie that just escaped from this journalistic bottle inside the President’s office is likely to give the president a few headaches for a few days possibly till the furore dies down.
4.The money argument which is also mentioned in the straitstimes article is a non-starter. The fact of the matter is that almost every service, in a typical resort has a price tag attached. However, events like weddings do not have standard procedures in most resorts, so staff do with improvisations that go along with the experience they get from events like these. A staff who worked in Vilu Reef as far back as 2003 confirmed that what he has seen in the video is no more sinister than what he has witnessed in the island when he worked there. The meaning is that the staff did not intend the slang and improper wording they used as an insult to the guest, but for them its a kind of joke. The difference this time is that the media caught them off-guard. Its a little bit like the philosophical question of weather the tree has fallen in the far off jungle if there was no body to witness it.
5.Knowing full well the implications of this journalistic Coup_d’état, we have tried to do damage limitation on Minivan News and will be doing in other sites as well. This is not about not-acknowledging a wrong to the Swiss couple in question or being insensitive to their unwitting ordeal, but this is about redressing the wrong and trying to help the workers and the industry. We urge all our readers and fellow workers to do the same and help encourage constructive dialogue. Feeling ashamed of being a resort worker or a Maldivian will hardly do the job.