After a few missteps the trade ministry has at last uploaded the new rules on wine and is immediately drawing fire from all corners of the country. The new rules is about sale of wine and pork in inhabited islands of the country and is amendments to the old rules by the last government. The former rules give ‘wine permits’ to a large number of people and business which includes all the expatriates who work in the country as well as resorts and yachts. The move was purportedly prompted by a clause in the manifesto of the ruling party MDP which roughly translates ‘to close doors opened for intoxication’.. However the new rules effectively is rocking the political boat dangerously and in perilous waters.
About the new rules: The cons
A legislation Only for Holiday Inn?: The new law stipulates that the hotels in inhabited islands will be permitted only once they meet several criteria which includes the 100 rooms minimum clause which almost has the words Holiday Inn written all over the bill. This is all more worrying because family members of ruling party members do have stakes in the Holiday Inn hotel which raises the issue of self interest.
the issue is about value as well as symbolic: The issue of intoxicants is about values and morals in Maldives as such transactions are strictly forbidden in Islam and Maldives is still officially a 100% Muslim country. From a moral perspective this is simply going back on progress and is about allowing a controversial thing such as euthanasia without anybody actually calling for it just because its being allowed in some countries of the world. While the whole world from Britain to Belize is soul searching about what it is to be like a national of this country or that, we seems not to have noticed the value of a being a distinct culture and respect the wishes of the people. If we were to hold a referendum on this issue (which we must) its sure as daylight that the bill would be profoundly defeated even if the voting issue is sensibly put to vote.
unwanted media attention to the country as being repressive: At a time when the country is making swift progress in various industries, this is hardly welcome news as the outcome of this debacle will focus world media on the country and immediately draw the wrong conclusions which medias are famously prone to. With the public mood as much against the bill as it is, the likelihood that the foreign media will distort the image of the nation as an intolerant puritanical society will be hard to sell to potential tourists to the country. Although the proposed amendment to the ‘wine bill’ will not affect the sale or supply of wines or liquor to the resorts, reports of opposition to the ‘wine bill’ will be generalized by media as total opposition to the bill and portray our countrymen in the wrong light as die-hard unfriendly un-fun-loving people which we are not.
The government might fall in the next election: For all the good things the downfall of the former regime is associated with, the vanquished of the last election will use every resource in their power to distort and politicize the rift between the ruling party coalition and there is big fat chance the ruling coalition will be relegated to runner-ups next time. The ruling party politicians should have been aware about the poisonous, explosive nature of such issues and should have been more sensitive to public mood. From a pragmatic down to earth view, this bill will not benefit currently anyone except Holiday Inn or those who are connected with the business of that hotel. But this amendments will see more politics around it in the years to come as smaller sized business will challenge the legality of imposing a 100 room limit, or why for that matter gambling or prostitution cannot be legalized.
Bad news fore expatriate workers:This new wine law is bad news for almost everyone including the teachers and doctors who work in the country as they have been able to buy wine cheaply in the past while as of march 2010 they will be forced to buy from the likes of Holiday Inn who are simply extorting when it comes to prices of good and services.
About the new rules: The pros
will address the issue of temporary permits to individuals:Even as everyone is expected to loose from this wine debacle, the police are supposed to be happy which in fact they are not… Proponents to the bill claim that it will be easier for the police to monitor one or two 5star hotels rather than monitor countless numbers of wine permit holders who sell their cheaply bought wine to eager buyers in male’ for handsome profits. However the police force does not seem to agree with this view. A few months back this same issue was responded to by a police spokesperson who in effect said that this relaxed rules on wine will be more problematic to the country in the future vis a vis policing etc.