Colorless, Are You?

One of the many things that happened after the 7th of February 2012 was the emergence of a lot of “political” groups on the social network of Facebook. One such group that popped up was entitled “Colorless” which started promoting peace, harmony and the concept of engaging in dialog with each other, to set aside our differences and work towards the betterment of this country. A noble concept don’t you think?

Being the pessimist that I am at certain moments, I found the concept of being “colorless” and “neutral” when evidence of police brutality towards unarmed civilians on the 8th of February showed Maldivians just how barbaric a society this can become in the face of injustice. Yes, it is an injustice to all of us, not just those who support MDP and its policies, the way in which the first democratically elected leader of this country was brought down from power by mutinying forces within the Police and the Military. And in my opinion promoting peace and harmony when society is rife with injustice is like throwing a spoonful of water to put out a raging fire. Varied are the views on how the incidents actually unfolded, main reason being the contradicting versions of the events that began to surface as the days passed.

The rage that grew to life deep inside of me after seeing the utter disrespect that the law enforcement officials showed towards peaceful protesters that day just multiplied by tenfold upon the government staying silent on the atrocities committed by the very people whose oath demands from them to serve and protect the public. Couple it together with my frustration at how the people were cheated out of their basic rights to democracy, the right to vote and the right to elect the leader in power, and how the authoritative bodies remained silent as if in a deep state of coma, I just didn’t see any point in promoting the concept of unicorns running around in a field of flowers while the sun shines down, where everything is just merry and the people are high on Prozac so that they don’t see anything wrong or any injustice in the way the “new” government came into power.

And then there is the hypocritical media of this country, a place where the concept of free, fair and unbiased reporting is a myth rather than a fact. While the same TV channels that for the past 2 years had spread half-truths, hate speech and propaganda to incite loathing towards Nasheed’s administration all of a sudden changed tune to promote peace and love between the people, admonishing the society to come together to support the leader in power because that is what the religion preaches us just got me madder. To top it all off, the airing of videos of the great “sacrifices” that the armed forces had made for the betterment of this country? Insert an eye rolling session here. Total and utter shame!

So somehow I managed to voice out my frustrations on the said group and well, I did get well meant advice from group members, similar in nature to the concept of the “road map” towards peace that Dr. Waheed seems to be dabbling with these days. My take on the pointlessness of peace when there is no justice, when the judiciary remains in the clutches of the corrupted and most elite businessmen of this country disappeared into a million other posts that promoted love, peace, harmony and the care bear stuff that I just couldn’t take in. My post on the current “state” of the country’s media received the following feedback. Since I was so passionate on the issue, I could create a separate group on the issue and advocate for it. Hocus Pocus!

And then, there are those friends and acquaintances, who hide behind the concept of being “neutral” and wears the “I’m not a member of any political party” banner so proudly that  they might as well have the slogan tattooed on their foreheads. I too am not part of any political party. But I have enough brain cells left (even after countless attempts by the previous regime to brainwash them into submission) to be able to read, observe and then make up my own mind about what I see, hear and feel. I know how to separate right from wrong and what took place on February 7th and 8th of this year was just plain wrong!

Does being neutral and “colorless” mean that you don’t see with your own eyes? Hear with your own ears? Think with your own brain? Does it mean that you remain unfeeling even at the face of thousands of peaceful protesters being dismantled by the force of pepper spray and batons, the way they handled the ex-President who had just “resigned” the day before? Does it make you unable to see the hypocrisy behind the most famous tourism resort owner of this country alleging to “save” a religion that he “mocks” by reaping profits off of selling the very items that are considered as prohibited in our religion? Don’t you just find it ironic that the pamphlet that was created by Dr. Hassan Saeed and Dr. Jameel hypothesised on a lot of aspects rather than providing us with the facts as to why they seem to have arrived at the conclusion that Nasheed is trying to drive away the religion everyone seems to cling on to even if praying 5 times a day is a thing that most Maldivians treat rather casually? What makes you say that people who were beaten up badly and some of who were knifed in places deserved what they got if you think of yourself as a true Muslim? What makes you mock those who cry out at the injustice of what took place and still label yourself as being neutral and colorless?

If being colorless, odorless, tasteless and neutral means being deaf, dumb and blind and turning my back on every injustice that is done to the people of this country, I would rather remain labeled as a “colored” person. I would rather go down fighting for what I believe in, standing up for the rights that we deserve as per the constitution of this country rather than staying silent, as silence in the face of injustice is just another way of saying yes, I agree with the atrocities that are being committed and I find nothing wrong in what happened. And for me, that can  never become the accepted norm.

As Ronald Reagan once said, “Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.”  Long live people’s power. Long live democracy!

Nasheed’s Downfall – My Thoughts

President Nasheed was the first democratically elected president of the Maldives who was sworn into office on the 11th of November 2008. He was a man who came forward with a manifesto that promised a lot of things that most of us did not believe in, because lets face it, 30 years of most of our lives had gone by and nothing for the betterment of our lives had really been done by President Maumoon through that long period of time. Though President Nasheed worked 24/7 to deliver on his promises, there were glaringly obvious mistakes that his administration made as well. So what gave the then opposition the fodder that they needed to spin their tales into gigantic proportions, to make people lose faith in Nasheed’s administration and finally gave them the “courage” needed to topple his government?

As it turns out, this morning I found myself having a discussion with my Twitter peeps, the first time I guess I have had a meaningful discussion with people who had different views on Nasheed’s administration and his time serving the people as the President. Opinions varied on different matters but it was both invigorating and informative at the same time and I really enjoyed the different viewpoints that came into light throughout the discussion. So, here are some of my thoughts borne out of the discussion as to why Nasheed’s administration started going downhill, perhaps a lesson to be learnt for anyone and everyone who aspires to lead this country one day.

1. Nasheed’s policy of being “hiythiri” or too forgiving for his own good. Perhaps this trait of his is a double edged sword that somehow got him into the “tight spot” and also the reason why thousands of people rallied behind him after he was forced to step down. I was someone who vehemently opposed Nasheed’s way of turning a blind eye towards the atrocities committed by the people in power before him. In my opinion, the major reason why people wanted a change and voted for one was because they wanted justice. And justice they did not get because Nasheed decided to do the “kind” thing and forgave and forgot everyone who basically made life a living hell for anyone who did not agree with Maumoon’s presidency. Nasheed had the right to forgive people for the torture and punishment that he received at their hands, but he had no right to forgive and forget on behalf of the rest of us, of whom I still believe that we deserve justice from the perpetrators of the atrocities that were committed then. If Nasheed cannot deliver that even if re-elected, I don’t foresee a different ending to his next “term” as well.

2. Lack of good PR from Nasheed’s administration. President Nasheed was a man who was always focused on achieving his dream of a better Maldives for the people of this country. Maybe it was this reason that caused him to experience “tunnel-vision” when it came to all the bad publicity that his administration was receiving from left and right. Yes, President Nasheed remained steadfast in delivering his Friday radio speech religiously to update the public on his take on events related to governance and well being of the general public, and I guess he believed that people would see what his administration was so busy trying to accomplish even with most of the media channels trying to label him as the next Mugabe in line. Nasheed should have invested a bit more effort in good PR, in answering those questions that flared to life whenever accusations were hurled at him across the table, some of which when went unanswered caused irreparable damage to his administration.

3. Creation of too many political posts in the government. This could be argued in favor of him as well. Since I am in a position where I am able to observe the “attitude” of civil servants and its governing body towards Nasheed’s administration, which I should add is not a very favorable one; needless to say there were conflicts between Maumoon loyalists who remained at the top level posts of the civil service layer and the political appointees loyal to Nasheed’s administration. I am one who will steadfastly believe that the Maldivian civil service is not a very professional one, because to put their differences aside and work towards accomplishing the mandate of the government in place is not a concept that many civil servants adhere to or understand. Tabling that for a whole other discussion, I will point out that Nasheed was at times “forced” to put in place people he could trust to deliver and not drag their feet, because lets face it, Nasheed certainly didn’t have 30 years to sit around and discuss road maps while the country falls apart at its seams. But the truth of the matter is, there were appointees that didn’t serve any purpose, that just reflected Nasheed’s “poor” judgement and inevitably directed a lot of criticism towards him as he was one who advocated for a small administration to run the government during his campaign for presidency.

4. Tackling the issues about the incompetent judiciary. Ms. Velezinee was President Nasheed’s appointee in the Judicial Services Commission and her many outcries regarding what was taking place wasn’t dealt with very effectively. There might not have been much Nasheed could have done, but in my opinion, the administration could have put in a bit more pressure on the judicial governing bodies as well as its Attorney General Husnu Suood who at the time must have been snoozing through the whole thing. Nasheed’s swift response in ordering the arrest of Judge Abdulla Mohamed came too late, and by that time, the opposition had already stated their point and brainwashed the people with the concept of “upholding” the very constitution that they refused to abide by. So in the end, the one thing Nasheed did to “save” the judiciary or rather the people from an inept and corrupt judiciary was the pivotal reason behind the events that took place on February 7th, 2012.

5. Too many policies, too little time. As humans, we always resist change whether it be good or bad. Very few of us embrace change wholeheartedly. When Nasheed’s administration came into place, a lot of new policies came into effect, some of them which the general public weren’t very much aware of. With most of the media controlled by the opposition, there was perhaps little that the government could do to drive their message across. And so as it happened, people continued to receive information on the undesirable effects of such a policy being put into place and thus the resistance to change became multiplied by tenfold which sometimes led to conflicts between the governing body and the people.

6. The religion card. In my opinion, religion is always the best way to stir things up and play with people’s emotions most effectively. There is nothing that would enrage a collective society more than being “mocked” for their beliefs and in my opinion, Nasheed should have let the sleeping dog lie. His message that radical elements were growing within the Maldivian society was one that wasn’t well received, and this in turn brought about the December 23rd Alliance which played a very major role in the coup that was executed to bring down Nasheed’s administration. The concept that “people” would understand the message that Nasheed was trying to drive across didn’t work out so well because how do you teach an old dog new tricks? How do you make someone who has already made up his mind think and come to his own conclusions based on the facts when the facts itself were distorted until nothing remained clear anymore?

7. Raised concerns of increased corruption in his administration. I believe that the government failed to address these concerns whether it be founded or unfounded allegations which still remains to be seen. But Nasheed’s policy was what would have worked in a country where all the governing bodies and watchdogs of a democratic nation do their jobs and exercise their authority with fairness and integrity which lets face it, is not the case in the Maldives. So Nasheed being at the helm of the government should have addressed these concerns, once again, this also pointing towards the government’s lack of answerability in issues of this nature.

8. The issue of MNBC. Again this is an issue that could be argued in favor of Nasheed’s administration as well. I say this because, a democratic nation ensures that its citizens are entitled to free and fair media in the country. With that in mind, Nasheed certainly never imposed any restrictions on any type of media that was circulating in the country. However, halfway into the 1st year of his government, DhiTV owned by one of the richest resort owners loyal to Maumoon decided to campaign against Nasheed’s administration and from then onwards there was nothing good that the government did for the people. It was all about negativity, spreading half truths that would embed themselves into the brains of its audience which would create discord amongst the people. And soon VTV followed suite, once again a TV channel owned by another notorious resort owner loyal to the previous regime. With media in the opposition’s stronghold, what possibility was there for Nasheed other than to “exploit” the media that was at his disposal? But that also proved to be one of the major points of criticism that the opposition had for Nasheed’s administration, and we all saw how the military and star force “freed” MNBC which was in the clutches of the “bad men” all along, which is again a “discussion” for another time perhaps.

I guess I could go on with a few more, but in my opinion these are some of the key reasons why people rallied behind the December 23rd Alliance, which then gave rise to the elements of a coup which was executed on that fateful day of the 7th of February.

There are lessons to be learnt always from our mistakes, and I hope that Nasheed has learnt his and would come out as a stronger and a better leader in spite of and maybe because of the continuous pressure within which he had to operate both during his presidency and now as the leading force behind those that cry out for democracy, elections and a competent and unbiased judiciary.

Long live democracy!

Wake up Dr. Waheed!

It might have been a dream of yours

to one day rule this country
to see the overwhelming support Nasheed has, directed at you
to be the one to have that vision for betterment of this country
to one day bring democratic reforms to this country

But now its time to face the inevitable truth
To wake up and realize that the majority of Maldivians

would never support you
would never rally behind you
would never direct their smiling faces towards you
would never think of you as the kind of leader they would all look up to
would never associate you as an advocator of democracy
would only think of you as the one who fell for the tricks of the old order

Shake off that delusion and look around to see that

the members of your so called unity government are mocking you behind your back
they can’t wait to discredit you the way they did for President Nasheed
they can’t wait to topple your so called unity government and take the reins
they can’t wait to see you fail and slink off to some foreign land

Rub off the tendrils of your dream to stand up

for your country
for the people who are crying out against this atrocity
for those who want an independent enquiry
for those who want an election
for those who want a clean and efficient judiciary
for those who are kind enough to want you to save yourself

Hear the people’s voice and make up your mind

before the blood suckers leech you dry
before all this reaches its inevitable conclusion
before it becomes too late for you to turn back and do the right thing.

The Movement, the Philosophy, the Icon & the Legend

Hard as it may be to believe for those who “hate” President Mohamed Nasheed and what he stands for, he would go down in history as the instigator of democratic change in the Maldives. Anyone who has closely monitored the struggle for people power that this nation has gone through, though it may not have seen widespread bloodshed as in most Middle Eastern countries today, there were those courageous few who dared to stand up against the dictatorship that was in reign for 30 long years. President Nasheed was the man whose spirit the regime could not break, the man who withstood each and every form of torture and overcame obstacles of all sorts that hindered his journey towards democracy, justice and freedom for the people of Maldives.

The term “Anni Zindhaabaadh” is one you would hear frequently if you have ever witnessed any of the multiple peaceful mass gatherings that have taken place in the capital Male’ after the 7th of February 2012. For me, the term which loosely translates into “Long Live Anni” makes sense in an ethereal manner such that the journey of change that Nasheed started has turned into a movement which has gathered enough momentum to sustain it through the long and hard battle that we the people have to once again fight in order to obtain the right to choose a leader through the ballot boxes and not through bullets. This momentum and movement is what must have scared the perpetrators of the coup that took place on the 7th of this month, toppling the first democratically elected leader of the country while the public watched on, most with disbelief while the rest cheered on, not even wanting to think beyond the euphoria of the moment to go to that point of realization where the gravity of what took place on that fateful day would sink in.

My personal experience was one of utter devastation. I grew up with a father who has always spoken against the many inhuman atrocities committed by Maumoon and his cronies while in power. On top of that, I have a strong sense of revulsion towards misuse of authority by anyone and thus the historic election in 2008 which saw the end of an era in the Maldives was one I wholeheartedly approved of and worked for. To see practically more than half of my work mates cheer on that day when it was announced that Mr. Nasheed would resign within the hour, something just broke inside of me and I don’t think it has healed since then. Well, lets just say that the whole day after his resignation was a blur of mixed emotions, a deep sorrow that was barely kept in place because of the support of family members and friends on social networks who believed that democracy and people power should rein supremacy over mutinying armed forces and the influence of the rich and corrupt in the society.

But what the then opposition must have once again underestimated is the power of the sheer determination of the one man whose vision of a democratic Maldives was what forever changed the face of Maldivian politics. February 8th showed the overwhelming support that Mr. Nasheed has behind him, the sheer number of people who took to the streets on a peaceful walk outnumbering any mass gathering that had taken place as a political rally in the Maldivian history till then. And I would say it was that sheer number alone that triggered the act of violence by the police towards unarmed civilians, which then set off the events of unrest and violence throughout the country, a blame which the Maldivian Police Service to this day tries to shove on the head of the Maldivian Democratic Party. But regardless of the scare tactics employed by the Star Force of the Police Service to ensure that video footage of their inhuman acts would be far and few in between, the rare video clips that have surfaced tells a story on its own.

Rather than hindering the momentum of people’s outcry against the coup, the sheer scale of brutality shown by the Police in itself increased the number of supporters for the ousted leader, perhaps the biggest mistake that Dr. Waheed’s government made since he took over being never once acknowledging or apologizing to the public for the events that took place on the 8th of February.

What Dr. Waheed and his partners must know beyond a shadow of doubt is that a man who has even for once tasted the sweetness of freedom would never revert back to slavery and accept it as his due without giving the fight of his life. Multiply that with the number of people in this country who do not want to see a corrupt and inept judiciary, who do not want to hear tales of police brutality and who want to exercise their right to choose their own leader and you get the biggest movement in the Maldives to-date fighting for their rights as the citizens of this country.

In my opinion, President Nasheed would go down in Maldivian history as the icon behind the freedom movement and would remain as the legend who even now remains undeterred in his fight towards gaining the rights of the Maldivian people against those who are power hungry enough to use every weapon available at their disposal. The philosophy of a Maldives where people have their due rights as per the Constitution would continue to fuel the movement that today seems unstoppable, that gains strength even as I write this and would continue on until the government relents and gives an early election date which would be for once a step taken in the right direction since Dr. Waheed took over.

Long live democracy. May the legend of a single man’s fight to gain the rights of his people live on, the movement never slow down and the philosophy of the due rights of the people of this country create the momentum that would in the near future give the people the justice that they deserve!

Independent Enquiry, Elections & a CLEAN Judiciary Please!

So, I woke up today to the uproarious headlines on Sun newspaper that reports on a DJ which was held at Dharubaaruge which was  interrupted by the Maldives Police Service (maybe they should tweet about it once they are done). Of course this would be an activity sponsored and participated in by none other than the anti-Islamic elements in the society which somehow ONLY belong within the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), now wouldn’t it? As usual, people on Facebook who believe in the December 23rd Alliance were up and about, “screaming” their outrage on the top of their lungs, trying to get the attention they deserve, to try and drive home the point that they were right all along.

Being the sarcastic person that I am of course, I couldn’t help but voice my thoughts on the matter. It is not the first time in the Maldives that an event of this nature (a DJ) has taken place. Nor will it be the last unless of course the December 23rd Alliance comes into power and the Taliban law overrides the constitution of the country which I pray doesn’t happen. I still remember when I was in my teens, just how much of an effort most of my friends put into, to deceive their parents and go mingle in parties that would allow them to mix with the opposite sex and to dance the night away in the arms of the boy that they were currently crushing on. That was in the early 90’s, and I know the situation must have doubled ten times over by now.

We the Maldivians have been burying our heads in the sand for quite sometime, ignoring the rising elements within our society that have their own ideas when it comes to their beliefs or non-beliefs towards Islam. The generation that now makes up the youth of this society never had the opportunity to receive proper Islamic teachings during their Secondary and High School education which makes up for the most important time period during which a student needs to receive the right information in order to come to the right conclusion. I still remember the days when I was in Grade 10 in Aminiya School and the Islam teacher who is now an active member of the People’s Alliance party (PA) used to talk about the concepts of Tawheed on the basis that we never talk about it outside of the school. Ordering teachers not to talk about certain elements of the religion was how President Maumoon wanted students to receive information about Islam which today is the tool that is being used by the same bunch of cronies to divide us further.

Ever since the incidents that took place on February 7, 2012, something inside of me just refuses to back down. I have received well-meaning “messages” from friends who thinks I am going in the wrong direction, and I know that I am not very popular amongst most of my friends for expressing my belief that people SHOULD get the right to vote, the right to democracy and the right to a judiciary that is able, capable and not riddled with the elements of corruption.

It is indeed a lonely road that a man takes when he/she stands firm in something they believe in and I find at the moment that my true friends are few and far in between. I have taken to hanging out on Twitter, exchanging ideas with likeminded people of the belief that yes, what took place on February 7th was unconstitutional, and yes, we the people should get the right to choose our leader through ballots and not the force of bullets. And verdicts passed out by the Kangaroo Courts of the Maldives since then certainly drove home the point of the inept judiciary operating within this country.

So my criticism goes out to those who rally behind the “holy” December 23rd Alliance (which I have to add is backed and funded by the most corrupt and affluent businessmen of this country) who are so darn sure of the probability of beating Nasheed in an election that would test and prove to the Maldivians that the majority of the people are behind them and want what they are calling out for! If through a free and fair election they manage to do that, I of course would accept it without question.

I cannot fathom the reason as to what is keeping them from going on to prove their claims and back it up with solid proof of their popularity. Some of my theories on the matter includes their  inflated COMBINED ego perhaps? Or the simple fact that there might not be as many supporters behind them as they might think? Or the sheer number of people that rally behind President Nasheed, even when the rest of the political parties and ideologies in the country with the blessing of the “religious” scholars try to prove the ineptness of the ousted President? Or the fact that Maldivians are not as “dumb” as they might think, and that we ARE able to form our own opinions based on the facts presented to us from the various news papers & channels with the Gossip channels included?

In my opinion the fact that they are so reluctant to hold elections just goes to show how fickle a lot they really are. Hiding behind and promoting the slogan of “peace and togetherness in the country” when it was they themselves who in the first place created this insurmountable divide between Maldivians. Kudos to a job well done. Pat yourselves on the back because you truly have got what you wanted out of this mess in which we the citizens have to fight every inch of the way to drive home the point that “WE WANT ELECTIONS”. And if that makes us anti-Islamic, if that makes us the ones who are deaf, dumb & blind, so be it!

I for one will continue to stand by my decision of wanting an independent enquiry, of wanting free and fair elections and wanting a CLEAN judiciary to serve our needs for all time to time.