The Fear of the Ballot Paper VS Democracy

Where is My Vote?

Where is My Vote?

Practically everyone who gives a thought about the future of this country and its people are waiting with bated breath, even with hope at its lowest, for the Supreme Court to prove them all wrong and vote justly for everyone who cast their votes in good favor on the 7th of September 2013. Just like the sexual harassment issue regarding the President of the Civil Service Commission that unfolded late last year, the Supreme Court’s affair with the voting process has got almost everyone confused and some equally determined to exercise their right to vote. While the Chapter IV of the Constitution is pretty clear on the most important aspects regarding the Presidential Election, the Supreme Court on the other hand seems to be vested with the power to totally annihilate any laws as they see fit.

Moving on from the legal aspect which I certainly am not the most proficient person to analyze and talk regarding, my musings lie in the practicalities of what would unfold and I believe that there are going to be implications in holding the second round of voting this Saturday. If the entire opposition in terms of Nasheed is to judge the havoc these people can create, and if the Supreme Court does NOT issue its verdict by tomorrow and the members of the Elections Commission somehow grow balls of titanium coated with diamonds to even then go ahead with the second round of voting; just imagine the reaction from those who are afraid of this little piece of paper that civilized societies use to elect and reject those that are voted into various offices of the government.

Multiply the likes of Ilham, Riyaz Rasheed, Abdulla Abdul Raheem, Umar Naseer, Marz Saleem, Imran etc and their assisting rabble-rousers by a 1,000 fold plus the different gangs under their control that would certainly be deployed; one can just imagine the mayhem these people can create if you look at the level of vandalism the so-called prestigious members of the Parliament resorted to during the last couple of days.

With the Police Commissioner already vying towards the unannounced decision of the Supreme Court regardless of what the Police Integrity Commission has stated today which was to assist the Elections Commission in the voting process, it seems very likely that most police officers wouldn’t do anything much to uphold the Constitution they so claimed to love and adore when Nasheed was the President. The Constitution that they were devoted to upholding so much so that they could not sleep because of their need to topple the President from his position in their aim to show their respect to the document that forms the basis of all laws of this country. Add into this the various atoll and island level councils that are controlled by the opposition who’d refuse to cooperate with the Elections Commission without which the logistics of holding the run-off elections would be an impossibility.

Now, the question of the hour remains to be what the military would do if & when push comes to shove? Will they assist the Defense Minister Nazim to execute the ‘Operation Black Cobra’ or whatever ridiculous codename that it is called, that was circulating throughout the social media all of yesterday and help remove all vestiges of the democratic processes established in this country by opting for a military ruled dictatorship? Or will they rise to the occasion and for just once, serve for the betterment of this country and its future without being wusses about it?

There were rumors of supposedly a faction of soldiers within the military who believed that the coup was wrong, some whose egos were severely bruised by the extent to which the police force made them stand down so easily. Apparently this faction of soldiers believe in upholding the laws of this country and respecting the democratic process and if word on the street is to be trusted, they’d definitely come out in support of whoever the majority of the citizens of this country vote for and elect as their President for the next five years.

And in the meantime, the clock continues to tick towards the nth hour. And the question continues to loom larger than ever as the time of reckoning draws closer; will they or won’t they come out in support of the people of this country and its Constitution come Saturday, the 28th of September 2013.

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Kasauti Hour at Civil Service Commission

sexualharassment

If you all have been following the news today and yesterday, you would know what I am talking about. Though I’d be the last person to advocate for Fahmy on this issue, the latest news reports on the issue has left me wondering whether locking up the doors and throwing away the key is the best way to tackle the issue of Fahmy resuming work at CSC after being on leave.

For one thing, when Supreme Court came up with their verdict, everyone sat on their arses and let him report to work. He was paid his salary, not just for the days he reported to work but the entire period he was away from work; the days between Parliament sacking him and Supreme Court’s verdict.

What we are witnessing today is a total turnaround to these events. While the issue of who the President of CSC is has been settled, the issue of whether Fahmy is a member or not still remains to be resolved. When the Parliament appointed Ms. Reenee as the 5th member of CSC to the position supposed to have been vacated by Fahmy, Supreme Court stopped the swearing in process which effectively bars Reenee from reporting to work. While the President Dr. Waheed has said that he will decide what is to be done with Fahmy in three days time, we are left wondering whether Waheed resides on Pluto on which each day is equivalent to 6 days here on Earth.

Now the question I am struggling with is whether ‘suspending’ Fahmy & preventing him from returning to work by the actions of CSC is the right way to go. What sort of message is all this under the table behaviour driving home? Is this sort of deep ‘under the cover’ power struggle what CSC wants the public to witness? As far as my limited knowledge on CS Act goes, all employment issues related to CSC members will be governed by the Parliament. Yes, Parliament had its say, but then none of this has been resolved and that creates the sense that there is something fishy going on, something that we aren’t privy to that is working behind the scenes. Perhaps a position that CSC should have assumed from the very start of this affair which we are seeing too late might be the reason for this weird feeling that things just don’t add up!

In my opinion what Waheed needs to do is grow a pair or two, buck up and decide once and for all what is to be done so that we can all be done with this drama and move on. This is not healthy for this country and its largest workforce where discontentment practically reeks from all civil servants at large. If not Waheed, then the Attorney General needs to decide what is to be done so that CSC can end this episode of Kasauti and move forward with their designated jobs in creating an effective, efficient and professional civil service capable of serving the public.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer that Fahmy should be sacked for what he did and has done to many a female employee at the workplace and am someone who would always advocate for it knowing all that I know. But this is not how it should be. Or is it? What do you think?

#MvElections13, Democracy Vs Dictatorship – Here We Come!

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The day we have all been waiting for since that fateful day of 7th February 2012 has come and gone. The first round of voting is over and the preliminary results announced, which did not end as many predicted it would, but nevertheless turned out to be a huge victory for MDP and the crusaders of democracy and people’s rights. The first round of elections yielded the following results.

  1. Candidate 1, Mr. Gasim Ibrahim [Jumhooree Party]: 50,422 votes  (24.07%)
  2. Candidate 2, Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan [Incumbent President, Individual]: 10,570 votes (5.13%)
  3. Candidate 3, Mr. Abdulla Yameen [Progressive Party of Maldives]: 53,099 (25.35%)
  4. Candidate 4, Mr. Mohamed Nasheed [Maldivian Democratic Party]: 95,244 (45.45%)

While we await for the second round of voting which is to take place on September 28th which would be a run-off between Mr. Mohamed Nasheed, the first democratically elected President of Maldives who stepped down on February 7 of 2012 in a coup instigated by the rest of the candidates that contested in the elections; and Mr. Abdulla Yameen from the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) whose leader is the autocratic leader of the 30 year regime, campaigning has already begun in earnest by supporters of Nasheed in securing the 10,000+ votes which would mean a win for him in the second round.

The most amazing revelation after voting was how far Mohamed Nasheed has come in winning the love of his countrymen. For a man who received a mere 44,293 votes (24.91%) in the first round of elections in 2008, he has managed to double the amount of votes he received with an extra  thousand or so tossed in and I couldn’t be more thankful for the 90,000+ voters who have decided that they do not want any of the coup instigators to become an elected President in this country. The message that they have given the rest of the candidates is pretty clear. If you want to be elected, do as Nasheed does. Campaign and win the hearts and the votes of the people. I couldn’t be more proud of everyone who went out and voted and though there are still certain discrepancies for which the Elections Commission needs to be answerable for, I think the elections went pretty much smoothly.

While Gasim Ibrahim with the religious fanatics at his back managed to secure the third place in the elections, Yameen seems to have escaped with a very narrow margin and attained the 2nd place, definitely a major blow for PPM though they seem to be big on advertising the fact that the votes received for all the other candidates belong to them. I fail to see the logic behind their statement as they didn’t participate in the election as a coalition. And how on Earth do separate candidates come out from a coalition in the first place? My mind may not be as advanced as that of the likes of Yameen and his party members, but if we apply Yameen’s logic, than the incumbent President Dr. Waheed Hassan is the clear winner of this election with a hopping 198,765 votes against him and Mr. Gasim Ibrahim his contender for the run-off with a total of 158,913 votes against him. And let us not forget the pitiful number of votes Dr. Waheed received, a world record for an incumbent President, the message is very loud and clear; you reap what you sow. You raped the votes of the citizens by aligning yourself with the coup instigators and in my opinion the bulk of the votes he received belongs to DRP and Thasmeen.

While MDP campaigned for “EhBurun” which means taking the prize home in the first round itself with no need of a second round, the narrow margins by which he won in Male’ City itself seems to be one of the reasons why he didn’t manage to secure the seat of Presidency from the 1st round itself. There are reasons for this and in my opinion not enough concentrated campaigning efforts were focused in regions of Male’. For instance, my household which falls under Medhu Henveiru didn’t receive even a phone call from Nasheed’s campaign team, nor warranted for a visit in his D2D ventures and none of us received the letter that he signed and was delivered to most households. Of course for this household, none of the other candidates are an option since February 7th, but what about those who believe that a constitutional transfer of power happened that day and do not see anything much amiss about what happened. We are all different in the way we take in and process information which accounts for the differences of opinion that arises in almost everything in life. I myself received calls from Gasim to both my numbers, and later on even that creepy recorded message which asked me to press “8” if we wanted to opt out of receiving further messages. If I wasn’t already convinced Nasheed was the man, I certainly would have logically reached the conclusion that I would vote for the candidate who gave a damn enough for at least his campaign center to place a call and see whether I would vote for him. Simple psychology.

Unlike Yameen who thinks that it is the 95,000+ voters problem that they didn’t vote for him, which I think is evidence enough how unfit a candidate he is for the position of the President. Asking for votes is what you do when you campaign. You convince the masses to vote for you through the policies you would implement and the changes you would bring to the country for the betterment of the populace in the hopes that they think you are the best candidate and vote for you. If Yameen doesn’t seem to get that, I think he would do better off in staying at the Parliament by buying off the votes of a more concentrated number of people until someone gathers enough evidence against the nefarious crimes he has committed against the people of this country and send him off to prison for a long, long time.

If Yameen thinks that the 60,992 votes received for both Gasim and Waheed would automatically fall into his lap, he is sadly mistaken. Most people who voted for Gasim and Waheed did so because they didn’t want to vote for either Nasheed or Yameen for whatever reasons. For those certain groups of people who seem to think Nasheed represents the messiah of Christianity himself and suddenly seem to find that Yameen represents everything pure and Islamic, well, think again. A man who can’t bring himself to properly talk to people because he thinks he is better off than the common man, well that certainly explains a lot about him. If you want to turn into a hypocrite who goes against your conscience and vote for the man who represents torture and autocracy at its best, be my guest and vote for Yameen. But if you want what is best for this country and its people, to vote for the man who understands the common man and where he comes from, well the choice is pretty clear in my opinion. Nasheed is the man to do that and steer this country forward. No two questions about it. Lesser evil? Definitely Nasheed.

The task ahead of us is a humongous one. We are once again facing off against the religious “fanatics” who seem to want us to think they are the saviors of Islam when in reality they are whoring away religion to the highest bidder. We are going against the 30 year old dictatorship, the face of Maumoon represented by his half brother. This is the fight between democracy and dictatorship. This is the time to cast your vote and make it count! This is the time to say yes to reforming the judiciary and to say no to keeping people like Ali Hameed and Abdulla Mohamed on as Judges which paves the way for sexual harassers like Mr. Mohamed Fahmy Hassan to sit in high positions. This is the time to say you want health care benefits for your entire family, that you want single mothers and your parents to not be left destitute when it counts. This is the time to give the proverbial finger to the “baaghees” i.e. the coup perpetrators and drive home the message that we, the majority of Maldivians do not want the armed forces to change the government but the ballot boxes to do so. This is the time people. So stand up to the task and do your bit.

In Sha Allah we can. And In Sha Allah we will. Forward and onward we move. In MDP slang? Kuriah Kuriah, Baarah Kuriah!

Vote for “Your Vote”!

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Come Saturday, the whole of Maldives will be going to the ballot box to decide who the President of this country would be for the next 5 years; a change from the “norm” that was accepted when the police and military with the help of religious extremists and a handful of hate mongers ousted the elected President Mr. Mohamed Nasheed from power on February 7, 2012. A lot has happened since then, and the Maldives has come a long way since Nasheed stepped down from power to prevent the country from swimming in the blood of its own people, a step he took for his country, a step he says that he is grateful to have taken in the light of the events of today.

There was a time when Nasheed was chased away from stepping onto islands to say his piece, to ask people to consider voting for him. Times have certainly changed and he has a fan base that rivals that of any pop star or musician of this day and age. And those who hate him, well they continue to do so with a vengeance, even with all the facts to be seen right in front of their eyes, hanging onto their reasons that lets them cling onto their hatred for him just a little longer.

Why vote for Mohamed Nasheed, Candidate Number 4 you ask?

Candidate 4, Mohamed Nasheed

Candidate 4, Mohamed Nasheed

Well, I ask you, isn’t February 7, 2012 reason enough? Yes, everyone voted for a change, some with humongous expectations in the need to move away from the autocratic and dictatorial leadership of President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom who ruled this country with an iron fist for 30 long years and stuffed his coffers with wads of cash stored in offshore bank accounts never to be seen ever again.

As history has shown time and yet again, Maldives is a nation that is prone to coup d’état. From the time when kingdoms ruled this country to its first Republic, the leaders in power have been toppled through nefarious planning on those hellbent on achieving the highest position of authority in this country through any means possible. President Ibrahim Nasir barely escaped this as he sought to leave the country after handing over the reins to the overly capable soft hands of Maumoon, who then was in the role of rabble-rousing. Fast-forward to 33 years down the line and we see Maumoon working behind the scenes once again to ensure that the defeat he faced in the 2nd round of Presidential Elections in 2008 would indeed come and bite the country’s arse in the form of a coup to oust the elected President.

The Constitution of Maldives is very clear on the aspects of who would rule the country and how a person would be chosen from the masses to be represent us. It is also very clear on the rights that is given to the President, more so because we opted for a Presidential system of governance in 2007. After the historical 2008 elections that changed the whole face of this country, through the missteps that Nasheed and his leadership took, Maumoon and his cronies gained a stronghold in the Parliamentarian elections in 2009 which kick-started the chain of events that led to Nasheed’s demise from power.

My point here being everyone who took part in the protests that called for his resignation hold onto the fact that Nasheed acted in defiance of the Constitution by imprisoning Judge Abdulla of the Criminal Court who had pending ongoing investigations at the Judicial Service Commission which is again under the stronghold of the Kaaminee clan (Maumoon’s family). The coup was the icing on the cake on the activities that were pre-planned and executed in style to rip us off of our votes and discard our say in who is to lead us, as if we were mere nothings, which is exactly how Maumoon and his family thinks of Maldivians. Puppets to do their bidding, with no abilities to think on our own in making sound decisions to choose a leader for the country, unless of course the leader happens to be someone approved by the man for all islands aka Maumoon.

Candidate 1, Gasim Ibrahim

Candidate 1, Gasim Ibrahim

For me, the coup alone is reason enough to vote for Nasheed. The rest of the 3 candidates namely Mr. Gasim Ibrahim from Jumhooree Party, Dr. Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik, the incumbent President running as an independent candidate and Mr. Abdulla Yameen from People’s Progressive Party whose leader is none other than Maumoon himself; all of them have been important elements of the coup. While Gasim funded the whole shebang, Yameen worked through the nitty-gritties and planned the whole thing to a T while Dr. Waheed stepped up with that brilliant eye gouging smile of his and added, “Do I look like someone who would bring about a coup d’état?” Quite convincing the argument he presents don’t you think?

For those who are hellbent on protecting Islam and think Mohamed Nasheed to be the “devil” in disguise, take a step back and think to the era of Maumoonism where learning religion outside the sources of information approved by the state was considered illegal and earned people jail time in the prisons notorious for dishing out various forms of cruelty on its prisoners, just for the fun of it. Do you guys remember the time people’s beards were shaved off and applied a potent mix of chilli just because they dared grow their beard to follow the teachings of the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH)? Do you recall the time during the 90’s when wearing the veil was considered something for older women, when school children and I myself was harassed because we dared to cover ourselves up when we ventured outside? Do you remember the people who gave their sweat and blood to ensure that their children could follow the teachings of Islam the way you see fit to bring your children up in? Yet most importantly, do you remember a time during the 3 years of Nasheed’s presidency when you couldn’t do any of the above for the fear of repercussions from the State? Nasheed might have asked hard questions from all of us, not surprising in a society rampant in abuse of every kind. But then again, he has never gone against the will of the people in those matters and has always stepped back and taken the higher road where necessary. Look inside of yourself and seek answers, not from any of the hate mongering channels or newspapers, but just think through the incidents and decide for yourself; who is it that makes a real mockery of the religion.

Candidate 3, Abdulla Yameen

Candidate 3, Abdulla Yameen

Next, lets talk about the elephant in the room aka, the Maldivian Judiciary. It was Nasheed’s attempt to clean up the judiciary and install judges who are able and fit to serve the country that seemed to be the final straw for the coup perpetrators. Justice ensured means Yameen wouldn’t be able to operate his gangs and fatten up his coffers with the money from the large sales of drugs that runs amok through this country and has ruined this society enough to make one weep. A fair judiciary would mean Maumoon and his cronies too would find themselves in front of the system, answerable to their actions, no matter how revered a man he might be amongst his supporters. And for those who hate Nasheed, it’d also mean that he too would have to stand in front of that system to answer for his actions. A fair judicial system would also ensure that men like Gasim, who are rich beyond any Maldivian’s imagination would not be able to escape without paying his due to the State in taxes and otherwise, that would enrich the people of this country and develop the far outreaching islands and enable people to move back to their home islands instead of living in cramped quarters in the capital of Male’. Most of all, it would pave the way for implementation of Islamic Shariah, enable Maldives to implement the death penalty, which seems to be the highlight of everyone’s agenda since MP Afrasheem’s murder, as it would mean that the Judiciary is one that is rid of corrupt individuals and most of all would make sure that JUSTICE is done, no matter who is on the receiving end of it.

Now I ask you, isn’t that what Islam is all about? Having all of our rights secured, and being content in the knowledge that even if tomorrow we were to lose our rights regarding one thing or the other, that the Police, Prosecutor General and the Courts would do their damnedest to give us a fair hearing and make 100% certain that our rights are protected at all times? Look around the 4 candidates. Who from them has so far talked about cleaning up the Judiciary? Gasim refuses to even think that the likes of Ali Hameed who sits on the Supreme Court bench should be even investigated, let alone removed from position. Yameen barely mumbles along the issue as he controls a large number of judges in the Judiciary. But one thing mind you, you should take notice of when he talks is that he believes that the “Walliyul Amru” or the Head of State should be able to ascertain that justice is done and if not take swift actions regarding the matter to ensure that law and order remains in the country. His only problem? Nasheed being the Head of State who started on the venture. Next up is Dr. Waheed who is a negligible candidate at best, who doesn’t even want to think about the Judiciary and would rather turn his head to the other side on matters regarding the system. He is the man who said he would decide on the matter of Mr. Mohamed Fahmy Hassan, who as the President of the Civil Service Commission sexually harassed a female employee, upon which the Supreme Court with its residing porn star Mr. Ali Hameed decided that Fahmy should stay and perhaps the Civil Service Act also be rectified to insert that Mr. Fahmy should ALWAYS remain as the President of the Civil Service Commission as long as he lives. Point made?

Candidate 2, Mohamed Waheed

Candidate 2, Mohamed Waheed

Next, lets look at social welfare. Maumoon did start out on the health insurance scheme during 2008 which targeted only employees of the state. Nasheed came to power and ensured that each and every individual of the State received MVR 100,000.00 as their health insurance every year. Mind you, there were several problems with the system, mostly the health sector which even Nasheed’s presidency failed to tackle. What should be understood is that the health has been an ailing sector for far too long, and to put it upright just like that and will take a lot of time, determination and the effort of not just the President, but the employees who work in the sector themselves. Calling the system “Aa Sandhoah” meaning “New Casket” instead of “Aasandha” was the then opposition’s way of trying to belittle the system in front of its supporters, but truth of the matter is, be it which color you chose to vote for in 2008, the State did ensure that you received that amount of money as health insurance. And that it was the start of something that could have only gotten better with more stringent policies put in place with time.

So what about the allowances that were initiated for single mothers? An influx of single mothers did not just come into existence on November 11, 2008. They have been around for so long, most of them not receiving even the state ordered minute sum of money that the father is required to pay to the mother of his child for their upbringing. Nasheed ensured that this system be put in place and that a little hope be given to those mothers who had lesser hope than futile under the circumstances. If you are a mother, just think, if you were to turn into a single mother tomorrow, the State ensures that at least you wouldn’t have to run around the streets begging for food, which might just have been the case if otherwise.

What about the sum of money received by those older than 65? Lets be honest and say here that like any other society, the Maldivian society too is remiss in its responsibilities towards the old and the disabled amongst us. We have no special programs in place for either of these categories of people, and yet we spout the importance of all of this and beat our chests with pride because we are Muslims and that should count for something right? Either way, during that long run of 30 years, no one even dared think about giving a sum of money to the old so that they may also have a sense of pride in being to have something to spend, something that is given to them without begrudging on their children’s parts. While Waheed has promised to prepare the uninhabited islands for the old, Yameen has determined that he would rehabilitate the old, perhaps thinking that they might be fit and able to work to earn their own keep by the time they get out and not depend on state welfare? Gasim mumbled something along the lines of preaching Islam upon being asked the question and that was the end of his policy on the old. And all I am asking is for you to THINK.

Last and not the least, what about this wonderful right of being able to talk freely, of being express our opinions without the condemnation of the law and the state coming down upon us? No one can point at Nasheed and say that during his Presidency, so and so were abused and undeservingly put into prisons to serve extended upon extended sentences never to be heard from again. I believe imprisoning Judge Abdulla was long overdue. Nasheed could have carried it out better, but a Judge who asks a sexually molested child to recount the events in front of the perpetrator is just sick and wrong on so many levels. Not to mention the tales of the countless cases of suspected corruption upon him, the role he has played in releasing criminals to “teach” the state a “lesson”, all hinting at the lack of professionalism on his part. The precedent of freedom of speech just like that of a Presidential candidate going from door to door to meet his voters has been set. It would be hard to shake that off for the next generation of candidates to follow. And that was done by none other than President Nasheed himself.

In my opinion, Nasheed does all of it because he WANTS to do it. Not because he NEEDS to do it. And in that people, lies the difference that sets him apart from the rest of the candidates which I believe that truly earns him his vote next Saturday.

Lets all join our hands to rise against the coup regime, the people who thought our votes didn’t matter when they toppled the elected government. Why then I ask, should we vote for a group of people with such a lack of regard to our say? Who even tomorrow can come out with armed forces and topple the elected President from power if they want to? Pointless venture is it not?

Vote for Candidate number 4, Vote for Your Vote!