The beautiful island of Vagaru which is a proper geographical atoll, is said to open in December 2010. The resort will be operated by the Viceroy Group of hotels which is one more big name that’s shortly coming to the country. The resort is being constructed by an “EON” group which is .. the Eon Group.. On the about page of the EON resorts there is absolutely no useful info about the big shots of the company or any such info. Through our research into the reason of this secrecy, we found out that this in fact is another front company hiding the business interests of the former president’s family which is said to own 4 resorts. Construction in the island of Vagaru is said to have started in the election year and following the defeat of the then president, his family was said to have come under harsher times (money wise) which apparently is the reason for the sell off to the American Viceroy Group company.
Lets begin at the beginning.
His Excellency Mohamed Amin Didi was our first president and he is said to be the founder of the present “Republic” that Maldives is. Many important initiatives like formal education, creation of main roads in the islands are credited to him. However His Excellency’s rule was short lived and was brutally murdered by a mob. Despite his revolutionary and progressive governance, he does not associate himself with the common men and was elitist in appearance and style. It maybe one of his undoings of which clearly there were many. Mahatma Gandi was also educated but in Oxford and yet, to associate with the common populace, he wore clothes like a beggar. At that time Amin Didi was in power, few men in the ‘republic’ had the wherewithal to wear a shirt or anything to cover their bodies. Yet Amin Didi always wore either military uniforms or western attire…
Ibrahim Nasir was the second president after a brief spell of kingdom of Hassan Fareed. Ibrahim Nasir was a president brought to power by the elitist power brokers in Male’ and was not well loved or respected during his whole reign. Nor did he need love or popularity of the common people as he based his rule on fear and intimidation. Its said that he did not use bodyguards and walked the streets of Male’ alone and unattended yet it was common knowledge that His Excellency was not a person to be messed with. At the time his dictatorship only knew force, violence and torture to solve most of the cases. At the time political dissenters disappearances were not uncommon and prison inmates were routinely tortured sometimes to death. The most poignant example of Nasir’s notoriousness was shown on the occasion when he depopulated the island of Thinadhoo because Thinadhoo islanders allied themselves with the short-lived Suvadive government.
The current government’s effort to portray Nasir as a proper president making best of a rough situation, not as a dictator seems to be an effort to chip away the popularity of his predecessor Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom. Its commonly used tactic in politics to discredit an entity by presenting competing further entities which seems to be the case.
In the short lived Suvadive government (in Addu), the president was Afif Didi and he reigned in tumultuous times. During the short reign of Suvadiva, they were able to do pretty much everything a new country aught to do save perhaps the efforts to consolidate on what was achieved and to move forward. There were many reasons for their failure and on a personal level Afif Didi was more popular, loved and respected by his countrymen than any other. Most of the factors that lead to their ultimate defeat of the Suvadive Republic were possibly beyond their power. The involvement of the British and the Male’ government’s unwilling to let go of the souther three islands were certainly factors. The leadership of Afeef Didi on a personal level was impeccable but there were elements of aristocracy and elitism which would not have gone down well with the freedom loving masses.
Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom comes from an aristocratic family in Male’ and was pushed into presidential hot seat (it was much colder then…) by the favor of his predecessor Nasir. Under his rule lots of good and bad things happened and the list of his presidential mistakes were indeed long. Although a lot of propaganda goes both ways, the fact that he nurtured a personality cult and was a nepotist is true. Further mistakes would involve curbing freedom of expression, imprisonment and harassment of the Ulema. One of the most damning things for which Maumoon will be remembered is for his extravagant life style which is summed up in the gold decorated toilet in the Presidential Palace at Theemuge.
The incumbent president Mohamed Nasheed entered to the list of the presidents on popular vote after defeating his predecessor Maumoon in the first “real ballots” this country has seen (possibly) for the first time. Prior to coming power, he was a constant (and consistent) thorn for Maumoon’s government, forming a broad based popular opposition and basically twisting the Maumoon’s arm while he was still in power. After coming to power with a coalition of partners, Anni was lauded for his prudent economic policies which in his own words were in a state of jaahiliyya. It might be too early to state the full list of Anni’s presidential mistakes but there are indications that the once grass-roots president is loosing touch with the roots and bowing to pressure from the elitists in his party. The issues are social and religious which Anni used not to dictate in principle but at the insistence of the aristocracy and his inner circle of party members, the president is getting into uncertain waters. Adhaalth party which is the political partner of ruling MDP, consists of the most respected religious leaders of the country is increasing coming under pressure from the elitist camp in MDP which is basically trying to set the agenda on how Anni operates. It maybe Anni’s undoing for letting this vocal minority influence his relationship with Adhaalath Party which is in a position to make or break who will ask for votes come the next election.
enumerating the mistakes:
1) Signing agreements and pacts with Israel which by world’s consensus is the most roguish state currently in existence. This is the same country which uses the passports UK citizens to murder people in other countries despite the fact UK is the country which actually gave birth to Israel and is closest to them save the US.
2) Trying to legalize sale of wine in inhabited islands which was revoked by mass protests. The front for the issue was city hotel business but was actually done to placate the wishes of the MDP party backers who were linked with the Holiday Inn hotel in Male’.
3) Seeking help for Islamic sharia from Germany which is ironic as this country is still respected by world’s Muslims as one of the few surviving 100% Muslim countries in the world. The idea is not actually to seek help for sharia but perhaps some financial gains which was given cold shoulder by Germany, as Islam and Europe do not mix. Its currently not acceptable political language in Europe to talk about Islam to the chancellor.
4) Aligning with and giving his moral backing and support to a vocal minority of secular elitists from his party activists and others. Democratic principles is firmly on the side of majority and the majority of this country still has not signed up to secularism.
Less than 24 hours after the infamous gang leader (Chica) was released there were 2 incidents of violent crime directed against news paper workers just for covering the story. Now one wonders what is happening to this country? Are we in Mexico fighting the drug war? Despite our military spending which tops even the oil rich Kuwait and Nato member Turkey as a %age of GDP, why are our armed forces not capable of controlling this thuggery in the less than 2 square kilo meter island?
To answer these questions lets analyze the context.
The problem in Mexico is about money. Mexico is bordering USA which has a big affluent market for drugs which means money in billions. But here in Maldives that context is not there. Our ‘little drug barons’ are not dealing in billions. Compared to Mexican drug dealers the likes of Chika are pimps. But the problem is why they are so powerful. Why were some of them alleged to have been protected in the past? In the case of Chicka it was alleged he was the henchman of the then “brigadier general” (a comical title..) Adam Zahir. After the transfer of power from Maumoon to Anni that protection may not be there but still they are able to intimidate witnesses, take advantage of amendments to law which were made possible only after the transition to democracy, claim the right to remain silent and have the courts re-examine the whole investigation process to manipulate the charges etc..
In our Majlis debates frequent references are made to USA as a standard bearer of many things like process, protocols etc. But those who remark on those issues fails to acknowledge that USA has a very effective history of asserting their national interests over any other principle be it the judicial process, international relations or whatever. If the USA finds a person a threat to their ‘national interest’ anywhere in the world, they will not hesitate to snatch or kidnap, detain or even assassinate that person. That is all justified under their national interest. Coming back to Maldives such realization of threat to national interest does not seem to be evident. We have had our courts throw out cases against money launderers simply because a clause in the constitution did not explicitly spell out the word ‘counterfeit money”. We have also witnessed recently how a well known ‘drug dealer’ was let free after the court failed to find fault for lack of adequate evidences despite there being lots of questions on the case. The court in effect dismissed a high profile drug dealer on a technicality. If we are to do things the American way these drug dealers might not ever be sent to court if they knew courts will release them. They might even create a special court to convict such people. However the most effective way to deal with the drug dealers is the Chinese way.
The potential for violence lies in gangsterism as well as religious extremism. In the current situation in our country, we seems to have overlooked the first one which is proliferation of gangs and gang warfare. Many deaths were claimed (closer to 50) to the gang violence in the last 3 years and each time the public simply has to absorb the shock and grief of the event. Those in authority who are charged with keeping law and order simply are not doing their job and giving themselves medals and honors and fancy titles. The situation is so bad that many areas in Male’ are simply no-go areas during the night and when the gangsters are visible on the street corner. Many homes are simply virtual prisons for their inhabitants and the occupants of the house only venturing out after calling a taxi or maybe a group of friends.
The religious extremism issue is simply a trumped up issue by the authorities to divert the attention of their own culpability. The only real violence which can ever be attributed to religious intolerance in Maldives was the home made explosive device some dejected youths detonated in our “Sultan Park” injuring a few tourists. The incident happened because of the then government’s intransigence on a local issue which is the Himandhoo mosque issue. The locals only wanted not to worship in a government designated mosque, which the locals knew was constructed on a graveyard but the government sent the “military forces” for successive 3 years (Each time in the holy fasting month) to force the worshipers out from a modest small mosque they have constructed. In the last ensuing battle with the locals and the forces our country was injured big time when foreign media took up the issue and tarnished our country’s beautiful image as a peaceful country.
Peoples Majlis Today is the opening day of Peoples Majlis and to ‘honor’ the day all civil servants and government employees take a holiday while here in resorts, we the resort workers work hard. The first order of the business will be by the president to deliver his first ‘presidential address’ which for the last 30 years has been an extravaganza of speech by the then president Maumoon Abudul Gayoom. The talk is expected to consist mainly of gloating over the achievements of the past year and perhaps what the president wishes to do next year. Its certainly an improvement on the situation before with lots of changes to the system and the address is really worth attention.
Peoples Majlis with its prominent position now in the political landscape is in need of drastic measures to align it with peoples expectations, to allow it to be called a democratic institution. There are quite a few urgent measures which had been proposed even in the past by fair minded parliamentarians in the past. These might include addressing a few points like:
1.parliamentarians should also be required to attend to their place of work:
With the huge amounts of money spent on them from public coffers, they shall make it an obligation on themselves to deliver worth for the money they receive. This is all the more important considering our parliamentarians are not even required to attend the parliament in the first place. Perhaps they are the only group of people who earns without ever having to work.
2.Their position shall not only be to oppose the government for the fun of it.
Traditionally the role of the parliament was to say “yes” to whatever the government proposes and a few mild debates which always ends supporting the side of the government. However with the new found freedom of the Majlis, the Majlis rarely finds itself giving affirmation to government’s views even if is profoundly true and highly beneficial for the country. Their voting position now is dictated by a mixture of party politics (which needless to say also is in a precarious situation), an overzealous fondness to exercise a newly found freedom, an indescribable sense of irrationality and all shades of the above qualities…
3.while everyone took cuts on their salaries they didn’t
With the recent pay cuts by the civil service and all government employees the Majlis found itself too selfish to join the common good of the people by going without a small percentage of their income which was bloated exponentially only a few years back by the then president to make life miserable for his successor. Unashamed and yet blabbering about care and concern for the people, they still remain unrepentant about their position. This is not to say that quite a few parliamentarians actually did that by their own volition but the vast majority of the members are clearly too selfish even to consider it.
4. the best were chased away by party ticket.
Like it or like it not, our current batch of parliamentarians have more strength in their vocal cords than real substance in their gray matter. This is to state a fact considering the kind of talent, knowledge and experience which were thrown away in favor of loud mouthed people thanks to the party ticket. A most vivid example of this is the replacement by the MP Ibra with the current MP who holds his position. Ibra was an original thinker unlikely to parrot after others position and quite a loss for the country.