Basically it happens like this. The country is highly polarized with people pro and against controversial former president Anni. Approximately a little bit less than half of the population supports him while the rest are split between what could be termed as royalists (PPM) and progressives (JP coalition). So we have 3 major political thinking at the moment. The current hullabaloo about the case before Supreme Court is just a technical legal process which has to be completed whoever runs the show. There are many issues in the whole story including the personal lifestyle of a Supreme Court judge and the quality of evidence JP submitted against the first round of presidential elections. To summarize the whole story, it may be safely said that politicians are encouraging disruptive behavior by calling for tourism boycotts which are usually followed by unsuspecting politically naïve followers.
In resorts the political wheeling and dealing are enthusiastically followed by resort workers who discuss the finer points of the days happening after duty hours normally in the staff gym or cafeteria. There is great camaraderie and honest heart to heart discussions sometimes quite heated. To make for a party atmosphere soft drink cases are usually bought from staff shop and enemies and friends enjoy political toast to their political masters in Male’. Usually somewhere in the discussion the idea to capture the moment and share in social media occurs to somebody and is carried out.
From there on the evil political masters take over and twist the story to their advantage and start frantic anti campaigns against the country.
To make the story go viral they even include Iran and Syria as well in the hash tags to get attention to the story.
The damage has already been done. What started as a light hearted talk was quite successfully turned to something more sinister. Travel advisory against the country has already been issued from 5 countries and more are to follow. Those who are calling for tourism boycott against the country are the true enemies of the country. Tourism can make or break this country and no sane person with a cool mind will call for self destruction. If this was about a single hotelier abusing the staff or something similar, a strike can be justified. But we have at the moment is no strikes and irresponsible hot-headed politicos inviting maximum damage to the country. It’s sad that TEAM the biggest organization representing tourism workers also appears to support boycott of tourism forgetting that more than half of those who work in resorts are not going to support their political view. TEAM shall be more neutral and be support of all political views to succeed in the long term. Whichever party comes to power, a self damaged economy would be the most difficult wound to heal.
It cannot be the greatest sign of wisdom, but we as a country seem forever locked in a battle with ourselves to undermine and work against our own interests, and its paying dividends!
Here is how.
Historically we had the same kind of opportunity as Singapore to benefit from association with the British when they operated a military base in Gan during the second world war period. However our elitist politicians at the time were too busy undermining own interests to get any real benefit from the friendship of a great nation. Even at that time, the executive office in Male’ was obsessed with creating the personal cult of the great dear leader type of drama which benefited none except the dear leader of the time himself. That was during our second president’s time and he is erroneously reported to have brought independence to our country! The fact was that our independence was not lost during that time and only that we had an agreement with the British that we would consult with them on international diplomatic relations which is only fair when Britain had committed to protect the country from any occupying power. Had we done any better instead of putting up a drama with the UK (for domestic audience) we would have been able to get more development to the country.
Our first 3 president’s terms were definitely wasted creating personality cults and into the 1st period of the 4th (current) president, we are witnessing another drama, this time with the limits of freedom, unbridled democracy and experimenting with media power. In the last eventful 4 years we have successfully started the divisive dialogue of religion (to our detriment), started to build the welfare state paid for by an introduction of taxes (to our credit), and generally started a major overhaul of the whole system the country is working on. We have even given a free-reign to media which is understandable as media played a very important role in demolishing the personality cult hyperbole created by former leaders.
This is all good but racing at top speed to reach the all important party manifesto goals in 2013 could be counter productive in the long term. We should slow down and take a more cautious approach because what took us forever to build cannot be rebuild from scratch again in 5 years time.
China could have done the same to Hong Kong when the mainland got Hong Kong from British but chose not to meddle with a good working economy the British left and they are reaping benefits from their decision, keeping everything stable and cautiously asserting their authority.
The effects of our race against time to do everything the democratic and modern-day values way is evident from the bad press and negative perception we are getting everyday thanks to our runaway media and populist politics. Even today in the high tourism season we have travel advisory caution against us by UK which no doubt will be followed by other countries.
Finally.. to cut the long story short:
- we shall stop the circus about free media and take a more realistic view of news and readership. Media can make or break us so we shall check it if it undermines out top product which is tourism
- We shall be able to stop the gang warfare, daylight robbery, mugging in the 2sq kilo meter island Male’ and stop playing democracy and indecisiveness to criminality.
- We shall check the divisive debate on religion because we can ill afford to have the Pandora’s box and keep up with the consequences.
This time its the opposition political parties who are trying to spread fear, capitalizing on the political climate of the country and trying to destabilize the economy. The government’s inability to market their reform agenda is being exploited by the power hungry opposition which is claiming amongst many other things, that there has been travel warnings issued against the country by Britain. Nothing can be further from truth. Here is the exact wording of the travel advice issued by British Foreign and commonwealth office:
“Following a period of political unrest within the Maldivian Parliament (Majlis), there have been a number of political protests and demonstrations in Malé, predominately outside Government buildings and political figures’ residences. Social unrest is possible and there is a risk demonstrations might become violent. You should exercise caution and avoid any large political gatherings.”
This is no travel warning, its common sense and it applies well to locals as well as to British nationals to avoid large gatherings.
The US State Department also keeps a list of countries where their citizens are warned not to go. The list is here: and its doesn’t mention Maldives anywhere.
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza 06/20/2010
Cote d’Ivoire 05/12/2010
Congo, Democratic Republic of the 04/21/2010
Central African Republic 02/26/2010
Saudi Arabia 02/18/2010
However the extensive use of media to propagate these sorts of lies and fear propaganda will ultimately have its effect and the authorities are well advised to finish off this issue with incarcerating the local mafia bosses on whose behalf the opposition politics is advocating. The naivety of the government in allowing these corrupt Mafiosos has had its effect and much blood was shed in this small city of Male’ just because they exploited the liberal policies of the government for their own advantage. The government’s hand is in fact bound by its own liberal polices and sweet talk of democracy and values but where there is a need to show force it shall be used. As for the incarcerated mafioso’s, its common knowledge in Maldives for over a decade that Yameen is the acknowledged boss of local Mafia in Maldives.