We earned this debt by running away from the successful UNESCO membership vote for Palestine. The administration at the time gave many explanations as to why the Maldives delegation left in a hurry but none looks convincing.
Here are some official reasons given by various govt officials at the time.
“… Our ambassador [Ibthisham Adam] is based in Geneva. She couldn’t immediately travel to Paris because it was informed of short notice,”
“They were travelling on a UNESCO ticket and they had difficulties in extending their stay, besides Education Minister had to attend a [parliamentary] committee meeting the next day,”
“Maldives delegation who participated at the UNESCO meeting in Paris missed the opportunity to cast the vote because of an oversight. They did not check about the vote to the extent they should, what happened is regrettable.”
What is important is probably not the excuses but the way we failed to see the need to recognize the legitimate aspiration of an oppressed country. Palestine needs all the diplomatic support it can get to help build the Palestine state. However we have gone out of our way to embarrass the Palestinian people and Maldivians alike to shake hands with Israel which does not need any more diplomatic endorsements to continue oppression of a people. It already has the eyes and ears of the biggest military and economic powers of the world and an amazing historical narrative to check any criticism against their state. Theoretically anybody can criticize any country or any people or any religion of the world in a free democracy society. However you risk being blamed for being insensitive to a tragedy if you criticized Israel. Write an essay, or compose a poem, you won’t escape the label. Nobody is immune from this threat. Even world class penmen who thought they could getaway with a few truthful words as their last drop of ink would not survive a jab at this larger than life state.
This was perhaps one of the biggest diplomatic blunders Maldives was involved in hopefully will never be repeated.