The Problem with Conflict of Interest

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MMPRC; the face of state enabled corruption involving billions of MVR – Source: Haveeru Daily

“Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the ability to cope with it.”

In the current political environment of the country, it is interesting to note just how many people who can actually make a difference, sit back & watch all because, yes, all because of ‘conflict of interest’.

While these groups of people are busy protecting whatever interests that they see fit, the government of the day is protecting their interests as well. The interests that brings in tons of money – all illegal of course, that would fatten up their coffers, leaving us hanging dry.

The aspect that scares me the most is the lawlessness that prevails and finds its footing in a society that refuses to see it for what it is. The educated and the intellects sitting back to watch the dirt unfold all because they refuse to get their hands contaminated by wading into the muck is one of the many reasons why Maldives has taken such a dangerous turn today.

The recent murder in Hithadhoo is one that should be fresh on our minds. But I wonder whether it is. Becoming desensitized enough to say, ‘oh, murder!’ and move on is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. At the time of writing this article, police has arrested a suspect in connection to this heinous murder of a father, a beloved man in a community where men are scarce and few, having to abandon their homes, families, wives and children to go seek employment elsewhere in the luxury resorts that are scattered all across the country.

Our institutions that should safeguard the people remain indebted to those in power. Bound by the laws of corruption which most are guilty of. The fact that the public at large actually believe that everyone is corrupt to an extent, that it is an accepted norm in society scares the perhaps idealistic soul in me. The 2015 survey that was conducted by Transparency Maldives on the matter of public perception of government institutions speaks volumes.

Why can’t we see wrong for wrong and condemn it? Why can’t we denounce the politicians who see it fit to benefit off of the tons of money that comes into the country year in and year out and question whatever scraps they throw our way, perhaps an air conditioning unit or two or a  paved road that would not see the light of maintenance for years to come, or the money that changes hands from the First Lady to that of a public who are struggling to make ends meet?

Look at countries like Mexico, the crime hub of Central America or North as some put it, a country famous for its lawlessness, mob infused life, drug cartels reigning over entire territories. Do you really think that Maldives can afford to walk along the same lines? Because believe it or not, we are traveling in that very direction and are already seeing the emergence of elements that attests to this fact. The indomitable United States of America is faced with the fact that their borders haven’t prevented the escalating levels of crime from spilling over onto their side.

Disappearance of Minivan News journalist Ahmed Rilwan is such a case that indicates the dangerous path the country is traversing upon. 575 days it has been, filled with negligence from the authorities, the parliament turning away from the matter altogether, and law enforcement agencies blatantly confronting the family and friends who have been seeking answers since then.

Mexico didn’t happen overnight. It took years of negligence, looking the other way, deep rooted corruption & not to mention, the intellects refusing to stand up for fear of meddling with affairs of ‘conflict of interest’ that led them to where they are today. From the public that is caught in the middle, those who can afford to leave, flee. The rest, they have no choice but to deal with the hand that they have been dealt with, adjust to the life of crime or join the foray into which they have been born into.

Not everyone is cut out for activism. No. Neither will everyone be equally passionate about putting the country to rights. Most just live for the day. As long as their lives are on track, as long as they can watch the English Premier League on weekends in the comfort of their homes & watch their family thrive in a cocoon filled with a false sense of security, that is all that matters.

But a scandal like the one that Maldives is currently facing, a money laundering scheme on top of large sums of state funds being siphoned off by higher ups in the government; these are the instances that defines a nation’s future. These are the big game changers, effects of which will last for generations. Refusing or unwilling to stand up and do your bit today to put things to right is ensuring that the regime of the day wins in whatever plans they have in store for themselves. And mark my words. They are NOT looking out for the interests of the people they’ve been ‘elected’ to govern. Never have they been.

The scandal that the national tourism office of Maldives, Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) is involved in, corruption amounting in the billions; the fact that the entire judiciary has been hijacked, the bitter truth that the parliament belongs to the regime and the undeniable reality that free media is barely thriving under the stifling control that the regime is slowly exerting on it speaks volumes of the future Maldivians are going to be living in. It is more than high time that the educated intellectuals and the colorless of the society thought about these things and acted upon them. Time that the color prejudices be left behind. Yellow, pink, red or green – all this eventually falls back on us. Because this is the moment that is irrevocably defining our collective future.

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Source: Pinterest.com

The educated might think that they can always migrate and move elsewhere. That the education they have will always take them places. One question I have for them is whether they really think that with the current refugee and migration crisis that has come to the forefront in the world is going to make it easy for countries to accept more foreigners onto their soil? With the anti-immigrant rhetoric that is echoing loudly across the world, the entire face of the global world is changing – and changing fast. It is up to us to make our home a habitable one, a bearable one, one that future generations; our children can live in without falling into the pitfall in the making today.

A prime example of what I am talking about unfolded recently in the United States itself; the toxic water disaster and scandal that befell on the Michigan city of Flint, having led President Barack Obama to declare a federal emergency over the crisis. Many saw what was happening. Few spoke up. End result has been lead poisoning that could cause debilitating health conditions, stunted growth in children and eventually untimely deaths – all which could have been avoided had the people been more proactive.

Today, those who can leave have upped and left to other parts of the country. Those who cannot afford to do so, have been left behind to make do with whatever it is they are left with. The institution of public trust over the state government has been lost. A couple of millions of dollars in compensation doesn’t help in the longer scheme of things.

So, do your bit. Help out. Even in the littlest things. It can make a huge difference along the way. None of this is going to be easy. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Be proactive. Try. Speak of the truth – it would make a difference. If you are in a “sensitive” position in terms of the government, enlist help of people who can get the truth out there. Don’t become a tool that parrots the lies and half truths of a government that is beyond all rational hope.

As Muslims, fearing anyone else more than Allah Almighty, whom you’d be answerable to on the Day of Judgement is foolhardy at best. That is exactly where we go wrong. That is exactly what needs to change if we want to transform our nation and make a good difference in anything in this godforsaken country of ours.

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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Preventing the Next Ziyadha

VAWOMEN

Source: Deviant Art

‘Globally, one in three women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime’
(Heise, L., Ellsberg, M., and M. Gottemoeller 1999)

It was during December of the year we just bid adios to, that the news of a woman named Ziyadha Naeem from Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Thinadhoo made the headlines. While details that emerged were scantily few, her 40-year old husband was arrested on charges of sexual abuse while Ziyadha lay in the Intensive Care Unit of the state run Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, fighting for her life. Doctors fearful of her critical condition denied the permission for Ziyadha to be airlifted out of country to seek treatment from abroad. Ziyadha finally succumbed to her injuries and passed away on the 28th of December.

Details of her injuries are indicative of severe abuse via a sharp object, having rendered her unable to walk properly. Ziyadha sought medical care from the regional hospital in her island 20 days after she sustained the injuries according to news sources. By the time she had traveled to the capital Male’, and sought the attention of a doctor well known in the Maldivian gynecology circles, it had already been too late. Ziyadha’s husband and his family meanwhile denies the charges, carrying out their own version of PR for the 40 year old who till today remains under police custody. Ziyadha had sustained her injuries all by herself, if her husband’s family are to be believed.

Ziyadha – Same Story, Different Victim

Ziyadha’s story is nothing new on the large scale of violence sexual and otherwise that are faced by women all over the country. A study carried out in Maldives on Women’s Health and Life Experiences by the UNFPA, UNICEF and WHO, in coordination with Ministry of Gender and Family back in 2007 reveals alarming statistics of how widespread a “disease” violence against women is in Maldives.

According to the report, 1 in 3 women aged 15-49 have experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives. While 19.5% of the women aged 15-49 indicated that the violence that they had experienced had come from an intimate partner, 29.2% of women in the same age bracket had reported experiencing emotional abuse by a partner at least once. While intimate partner violence seems to be more widespread in the atolls, aka rural areas than in the capital, non-partner violence such as physical and sexual violence at the hands of male family members seems to be more rampant in Male’.

While the data in itself and what it reveals is disturbing, I believe that it just skims the surface on how widespread physical and emotional violence against women remains in our society. What happened to Ziyadha has come to our attention in various other cases in the past and in recent times.

One needs to look no further than the case of 3-year old Mohamed Ibthihal who died due to injuries sustained at the hands of his 25-year old mother Afiya Mohamed. While many are overwrought with emotion over the brutality that Ibthihal had suffered at the hands of his mother and rightly so, all emotions aside, Afiya herself had been a victim of the nonexistent system of protection afforded to women like her, women who had endured cycles of abuse for so long that it had become a way of life. Years of abuse had finally culminated in an act so horrific that few would, if at all, look beyond what she had done.

Another case, another year. 2010 saw the murder of Hassan Shahid at the hands of his ex-wife Mariyam Nazaha, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in August of 2011. Nazaha’s story was one of a chronic cycle of abuse at the hands of her ex-husband, with witnesses giving statements on how they had seen Shahid abuse Nazaha on occasions. However, none of that factored in on Nazaha’s sentencing carried out by the Criminal Court. She remains behind bars for the foreseeable future.

A different case, a different island. 2012 brought to our attention the case of a 15-year old girl arrested from S. Feydhoo, the southern most atoll in Maldives. Her stepfather who had allegedly being abusing her for years which had resulted in an unwanted pregnancy had been the tipping point which had led to their arrests. She was sentenced to a round of flogging which triggered an international outcry that overturned that particular sentence. However, the fate of this girl is similarly echoed by countless others who are abused in such a vile manner by those that should protect and cherish them through their most vulnerable years. Society frowns upon these victims, believing THEM to be the ones at fault, the loose ones without any morals.

4 cases of sexual and physical violence against women of different age groups discussed here is indicative of several things. One, the system has failed these victims miserably. Two, there exists no safe haven for either girls or women of sexual and physical abuse. Three, government seems to lack the political will to tackle such a widespread and rampant social issue that is eroding away the very fabric of our society.

Current System – Lacking in Too Many Ways to Count

2012 saw the ratification of the Domestic Violence Bill which declared all acts of domestic violence as a punishable crime and afforded protection and safety to victims of such violence amongst the wide range of areas covered in the bill. However, zooming in on Ziyadha’s case brings forth the lack of an Evidence Bill that would aid the prosecution of the case against her husband.

Since Ziyadha presented herself to the medical institution 20 days after she sustained the injuries, it would only be secondhand testimonies of the doctors who had attended to her as well as those that she had divulged to what had happened to her that would be sole basis of the case if I am not mistaken. There is however news circulating that Ziyadha’s body is to be sent abroad for postmortem which might yield better clues as to what happened that fateful day. Questions remain however on how would one prove that she had sustained her injuries from the hands of her husband, from whom she had been living separately by then. I am no lawyer, so I will leave it up to the legal experts to sort that out and talk about it, if they may.

The community of Thinadhoo echoes sentiments of the lonesome life that had been Ziyadha’s. The fact that it was the norm for people to approach her to relate stories of the exploitative lifestyle that had been her husband’s. Having married him against the wishes of Ziyadha’s own parents, Ziyadha suffered largely in silence. Her husband’s comfortable income had never materialized to alleviate the poor living conditions that Ziyadha had been subjected to. The alleged injuries had taken place according to sources when Ziyadha had gone to seek her husband on matters of textbooks and such required for the upcoming school year. Instead, she left this world, leaving her 3 children behind, bereft of a mother and a father who perhaps given the unjust system in place, might just walk away a free man.

Chronic Domestic Violence – Indicative of Total Abysmal System Failure

Ziyadha’s case carries with it the hallmarks of cases similar in nature. For a country that boasts of 97.3% in the ratio of female to male primary enrollment figures (as per World Bank’s data on Maldives for 2013), the lack of awareness afforded to the youth on certain issues stems from the incomplete education system in place. Certain “sensitive” issues are excluded from the education curriculum altogether because of fear of reprisals from the more conservative in the society.

Sex education, which is equated with students being exposed to pornographic elements in the eyes of those that believe it would only promote promiscuity, indicates the fact that they themselves lack the awareness so much so that that they miss the point by a mile when it comes to importance of inclusion sex education in the curriculum. It can be tailored to meet the needs of our society – doesn’t have to be the suite that the Western education system wears.

But one can only go that far by actually realizing and accepting the importance of such a subject in the curriculum at a particular point in time. Sex education is about advising on practicing safety, about the choices each of us have, especially females, and knowing how to identify when you are being exploited by someone you have to trust; all important factors towards creating awareness amongst youth of both sexes to promote the idea of respecting each others choices among other things.

One cannot talk on an issue of this nature without addressing the sheer failure of the Maldivian health system that is in place. We as Maldivians experience the total lack of adequate medical care and assistance in the country, so much so that it is common for families to go on medical “holidays” with all their savings in tow because we know that the entire system is a mockery to the people of the country. No government that has come and gone, including incumbent President Yameen’s administration has been able to tackle the wicked problem that is the Maldivian healthcare system. Ziyadha’s inability to secure the kind of treatment that was required for her injuries, apart from the fact that she waited too long without seeking treatment, is indicative of the lack in the healthcare as well.

Come to the point of law enforcement, I still keep questioning as to why they didn’t question Ziyadha when she would have been able tell her side of the story. Maybe I am missing something, but none of the details that have appeared in the news sources seem to indicate what happened between the time of her being admitted at the hospital and when she succumbed to the coma owing to a hemorrhage in her brain. Worried family members had indicated that they were not at all satisfied by the lackluster efforts being showed by the Maldivian Police Service in investigating the case further. Ziyadha’s family worry, and rightly so, that the husband might just walk away, unscathed.

Focusing on the executive, one sees the lack of political will on the part of the administration to tackle social issues of importance. Because solving issues as complex as that of prevalent abuse and establishing formal institutions in place that can work to thwart and address these issues, won’t show up as boldly on the Maldivian skyline as a bridge between Male’ and Hulhumale’ would. Nor would it garner the support of the “youth” that this administration “wins” every time they inaugurate a futsal pitch in a corner of some island somewhere.

The fact that “Gender” itself is an area that is shuffled and re-shuffled every time a cabinet reshuffle takes place is indicative of the failure of the administrative agencies in place to cater to this particular area. It is most often than not, areas that specifically deal with the marginalized and at risk members of the society that gets booted and placed under a “new” administration that more or less makes the same mistakes as the previous one.

The budget that trickles down to these areas are significantly lower when compared to those granted to independent institutions that aren’t responsible for providing social services as such. The abysmal failure of the administration lies in being unable to or not being interested enough to address and strengthen these key areas of the government that require adequate funding and robust management in order for them to be able to carry out their tasks in creating awareness and also their duties in relation to the prevention as well as addressing the needs of the victims of violence as discussed here.

One cannot forget the sheer atrocity that has become of our judiciary system when talking about abuse of this nature. Injustice leaks out of the very pores of the entire justice system; no one in their right minds would equate our courts as ones that are just and able. Stories of how women who seek to be divorced from their abusive husbands, who in turn are commanded by the esteemed judge to “try and work things out and return if not”, which means going back home with the abuser; are ones that are far too common for peace of the mind. Most of the time these women are dependent financially on the husband, and adding children to the mix makes the situation more precarious than for a single woman.

Fact that women get labeled as loose and immoral for talking about what goes on in their marriage, the violence they are subjected to which many believe should be part of upholding the sanctity of ones marriage, is a notion that has to be done away with. There is also the point where court officials are seldom discrete about what goes on in within the four walls of the court premises. The more juicy the “gossip”, the better these stories are to relate to friends, which then spreads like wildfire across the society, because ours is a close knit one. The chauvinism on blatant display when it comes to certain judges at these proceedings is another reason that the system fails to recognize and address the abuse these women are subjected to.

It is the failure of the legislature that the Evidence Bill remains collecting dust on one of the shelves at the Parliament House. Few, if seldom raise these issues, the government aligned members too busy trying to keep their proverbial balls from chafing against President Yameen’s swift reprisal that would come if they don’t dance to his tune. Meanwhile, the members of the “opposition” remain in a deadlock, unable to push through the issues that they deign to bring to the forefront, because the government aligned MPs reign majority over the Parliament and push back anything of importance to the people that might land in one of their committees.

Where do we go from here?

The UNFPA report of 2007 in its conclusion recommended 5 broad areas that needs addressing in order to tackle the issues at hand. Strengthening national commitment and action is the first and foremost, without which no governmental plan or action can achieve its intended objectives. This includes strengthening the management of the related institutions to providing adequate funding to carry out their activities, inadequate funding to these organizations which I have seen from experience happen far too often.

Promoting primary prevention which includes prioritizing prevention of child sexual abuse and equally importantly reaching out to men to change their behavior are key ares of prominence. This relates back to creating awareness which again means commitments and costs incurred by the government for these ventures. As much as it might seem to the elected officials that these funds would be better spent in building infrastructure, if the social fabric of the society lies in tatters when all is said and done, there would be little need for skyscrapers to show the glory that is Maldives.

Strengthening the health sector response is of course highlighted which also includes the very important aspect of enhancing the capacity of mental health care, an area that most wouldn’t touch because once again, it is a topic that is seldom talked about in the country.

Supporting women living with violence through formal institution through means of legal advice, counseling and medical care to informal support systems such as family and community networks are highlighted. While NGOs exist in the country that address issues specific to women, I hardly see anything materialize on the ground other than the usual marathon against violence or one color coordinated campaign or the other to mark the “occasions” as required. These merely make a blip on the peoples radars as they have become something of the norm. While the woman next door gets slapped for the umpteenth time by the husband she cowers in fear from, the guy next door walks in after the run that was supposed to be creating awareness and avenues of help for the neighbor suffering at the home adjacent.

Last, but not the least, strengthening the criminal justice response is indicated, which includes training and sensitization on violence against women for all involved in the criminal justice system. I wonder how well such a training would be received when quite recently, prior to the launch of the new penal code, Supreme Court actually barred judges from attending the training sessions held to create awareness on the incoming system. Such is the backwardness of those heading the system which makes one feel hopeless and helpless in the view of anything getting better.

Change; It Starts from Within

I believe, we, as the society have a far more crucial role to play. We are the ones who can rock the boat that the lawmakers stand on, the elected officials who promise us a trip to Mars and back, if we would just place that tick on the piece of paper that affords them a luxurious lifestyle for the succeeding 5 years. WE need to create avenues where we can question our elected members, push them towards achieving what WE want. We need to strategise ways to make even someone who is hard of hearing as our incumbent President know that we, the people, demand better from his administration.

WE need to believe in the change that we want to foster and bring. WE need to change our perspective and outlook on abuse and victims of abuse. WE need to let go of the notion that it is not our business, as long as it doesn’t happen to one of ours. WE need to empathize. WE need to care. Then only the change that WE clamor for will materialize, of course through tough years of hard work to get there.

Maldivian government needs to take preemptive measures before the next Ibthihal or Ziyadha makes the headlines. But with an administration that cares naught what the people think, the hope that remains is one that flickers out too often. I believe that it is WE, the people who can bring the change WE want. And it is WE, the people that need to take that first or even hundredth step for that matter, towards achieving the goal of creating a society that takes care of its vulnerable and affords them security, when they need it the most.

“We must unite. Violence against women cannot be tolerated, in any form, in any context, in any circumstance, by any political leader or by any government.” – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Dhivehin – Always Maldivian, Forever Independent

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Official logo used in marking the Golden Jubilee of Independence of Maldives. Source: Twitter

President Abdulla Yameen’s speeches since he assumed office in 2013 has always been about issuing thinly veiled threats targeted at the public. The dissenting voices of the public of course. The public that keeps fighting against the rising tide, the insurmountable odds being stacked against them with every day that has come and gone since then. The official function and banquet to celebrate the Golden Jubilee since the independence of Maldives from the British was held just tonight. President Yameen spoke at length, delivered a speech more or less of the same caliber and tone. This time around though, there was a slight difference. The public weren’t the only ones that were targeted.

The public indeed did get an earful on the differences of opinion that has divided society so much. According to the President, all the woes that exists in society today, the social problems that seem to grow worse by the day, all of this is due to the rising voices within us for freedom, democracy, good governance, accountability & transparency. In other words, the fight for freedom has left a huge gaping hole in our society that needs to be plugged – and fast. In a nutshell, the President seems to be talking about the multi-party system of governance that Maldives saw come to light with the Maldivian Democratic Party coming into being in 2005.

If there is one thing that the current regime knows how to do, and they do it very well, it is to operate under the guise of law and do whatever it is they need to do to stifle the movement of the people, to shut down the voices of the people; the people who see through the thin veil of legitimacy that their actions are shrouded in and are not happy about it. What I believe that the President was hinting at tonight was the ultimate move to abolish the political parties that operate in the country. The new anti-terrorism bill that has been submitted to the Parliament recently hints at the ultimate weapon that would be utilized in destroying the last vestiges of the democratic movement that exists within us.

New anti-terrorism laws while needed to curb and take action against the rising extremist elements within societies are being used by despotic governments across the globe to stifle the opposing political movements within their countries. Malaysia was one country that passed such a bill recently, all under the guise of taking action against those with extremist ideologies within their country.

A closer look at the bill drafted in the Maldives, as per an article on The Diplomat reveals that certain offenses listed in the newly submitted anti-terrorism bill contains offenses that can be attributed to political activists. Offenses such as murder, causing bodily harm, damaging property, causing suspension of public services, for instance, if carried out under the guise of (1) “unduly” influencing the government, (2) creating fear, or (3) promoting “unlawful” political and religious ideologies, can be charged under terrorism and thus pose a highly worrisome threat to our already ailing democracy, if one can even call it that now.

With the parliament having become an organization that just basically rubber stamps what the government requires of them, I have no hopes of anything in contrary happening. The government will push this bill through, most likely citing the statistics that they’ve been refusing to reveal up till now, the numbers of the droves of people from our country who have fled to Syria to fight in the “global jihad” that is being waged. Once the bill goes through & becomes law, which I believe would happen before this year is through, will signal the death & destruction of every political party & ideology that exists in Maldives. Either conform to the governing party’s mentality or be ignored or perhaps worse.

Moving back to tonight’s speech, while the people got off a tad “easily” this time around, since the last time I watched the President deliver a speech it nearly burnt my ears off, President Yameen’s criticism tonight was also targeted at the international community. That’s right. The meddling international community that wants to judge whether our installed government is actually constitutional. Whether our trials are being conducted fairly, whether due process is being followed and so on and so forth. The President’s hardline stance tonight suggests that leaving the Commonwealth is a foregone conclusion, the Parliament having debated on the issue on just the 20th of this month. The President with his speech is issuing a threat at the international community at large, that he’d play hardball with any and every organization, country or agency that is willing to make this country conform to the accepted norms of democratic governance in the world. Civil societies & organizations such as Transparency Maldives that work towards educating the masses on their rights, on making their governments accountable to them? Well lets bid sayonara to them.

That brings me to the newly drafted law on freedom of expression that is yet to darken the doorways of the Parliament, which is set to criminalize four types of “expressions contrary to national interest” as per a report published on Maldives Independent. According to the article, “free expression can be restricted on the grounds of national security only if the following circumstances arise: if there is a need to protect the nation or its territory, if Maldivians or foreigners threaten national security with the use of force, and if the government’s ability to defend the nation is endangered.” The President’s whole speech tonight was more or less targeted towards just the above. Protecting our nation, territory and national security. Rhetoric that governments like ours are famous for using to thwart all forms of dissent.

While the above said laws would definitely curtail our freedom & civil liberties, it would also move towards rendering the Article 4 of the Constitution utterly and irrevocably useless. That all the powers of the State of Maldives are derived from, and remain with, the citizens. The government is smart enough not to do too much at once. Rather, they plan & strategize carefully, this “war” being waged on our freedom & liberties that are guaranteed on the piece of paper that we call our Constitution. I say a piece of paper because it becomes just that, an easily perishable piece of paper if the governing forces that be aren’t willing to protect the basic principles and tenets of the document.

So, on this day where which we are supposed to be celebrating with glee the Golden Jubilee of Independence of Maldives, where the government has spent an excess of MVR 150 million (a figure equivalent to or greater than US$ 9 million), I really wonder at what we are celebrating. As per the 2006 census, 1/3rd of the country’s population lives in the crowded capital of the country Male’. The numbers much have shot up exponentially since then, exacerbated by the expatriate employee population that resides within as well. With zero opportunities available in own islands & atolls apart from working in the tourism sector, most are forced to leave their homes and live in crowded apartments and rooms costing their entire salaries for rent. Yet, we call ourselves independent, clapping with glee when millions of MVR of taxpayers money go up in flames at every single fireworks festival that has sort of become the norm since this government took over.

So whose independence are we really celebrating? Corruption runs rampant, organizations are held hostage by those with zero integrity and our police and military lie dormant, content with a couple of badges & promotions that alleviate their difficult standards of living, albeit be it even briefly. The judiciary has become a place where injustice is dolled out at will, and the parliament, well the parliament is the place that passes every bill that is sent by the government, without so much as a thought to the consequences on the freedom, sovereignty & rights of the generations to come.

I think we would be forced to bid farewell to the freedom that we’ve enjoyed for a brief period of time. It was good while it lasted, though it might not have been perfect. Shortly will emerge the campaign by the government to make us submit or be of those that perish in the government’s greed and ambition to squeeze every bit of revenue they can from this land of ours until there’s nothing left. Let us never forget. Hitler did what he did under the guise of laws passed in his country. So will we learn the bitterness of it all, in the years to come.

Dhivehin, always Maldivian. Forever independent. Or so it goes.

#Adeeb4VP; Cause and Effect – Ripples in the Unknown

Ahmed Adeeb being sworn in as the Vice President - Source CNM

Ahmed Adeeb being sworn in as the Vice President – Source CNM

So all the talk of the town during the past month or so has come to its fruitful conclusion. A new Vice President was sworn in just yesterday, none other than Ahmed Adeeb, our former tourism minister, who practically swore that he wasn’t looking to fill in the position of the Vice President. He is the man behind the ousting of the former Auditor General Niyaz. The most corrupt youngster that we’ve seen in the Maldivian political scene in recent times. PG Leader Ahmed Nihan hails him as the man who collects “fees” from businesses to keep their party PPM (Progressive Party of Maldives) afloat. I call it blatant corruption.

I’ve got so many things I want to say about what has gone down within this week. Nothing nice, mind you. About how MDP (Maldivian Democratic Party) got into bed with the devil & seemed not to care an atom’s worth of what the public’s sentiments were on the matter. I’ve ranted so much on Twitter this afternoon about this that I felt like I should just take a break from all this & let this wash over me. Like I’ve done when encountered with every disappointing facet of Maldivian politics in recent times.

For one thing, the sheer audacity of the MPs who’ve been supporting every amendment that has been proposed left & right by the governing party aka PPM has been nothing short of nauseating. The response from most MDP MPs has been that ‘this is for the common good’ or ‘you wouldn’t understand this right now’ or the mother load of excuses ‘the only thing that matters to MDP right now is freedom for President Nasheed’.

And then there’s this. The confrontational mindset which refuses to back down even when they themselves know what they are doing ain’t right. ‘Why don’t you come out to the streets & protest?’ Or ‘Why don’t you elect some other person to represent you?’ Or ‘We are your elected representatives. So let us make these decisions for you’ or so it goes. Basically, all this boils down to one simple statement. We, the elected representatives aka the upper echelon know better. You, the stupid constituents know not what you’re talking about.

There’s also this group of supporters that rally behind MDP saying this. ‘This is the result of selling off your votes for MVR 500. So why blame MDP now?’ I mean seriously? There’s shifting blame & there’s blaming the constituents for the shit that MDP has been wading through ever since they lost the 2013’s presidential election.

For whatever reason, the how’s & why’s behind President Yameen & co winning the election of 2013 is a topic that requires a separate discussion. President Nasheed opted to accept the election results when they were finally announced, wanting to lead by the democratic example. It is not even two years since President Yameen took office & so many things have gone wrong since then that one can hardly keep count.

The latest fiasco began with the transfer of President Nasheed to house arrest from prison, where he was carrying out the sentence on terrorism charges that was meshed out by the Criminal Court of Maldives. Don’t even get me started on the sheer injustice of the “trial” that was carried out. I’ve ranted about it enough, written about it on the blog itself enough for people to know that I would never believe that justice was the basis of President Nasheed’s entire trial.

The story of the “deals” that went behind the scenes is what got the people, well, people like myself at least, all riled up this time around. The deal that would see the Constitution amended to allow the Vice President & President to be a person between the ages of 30 – 65; previously the starting age being set at 35 with no capping on the other end. Rumors were afloat by then that the Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb was the one who was going to come on board as the Vice President. But for this to happen, the then incumbent Vice President Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed had to go. With him not in the mood to give in & resign, of course it meant that the ruling coalition had to resort to a no confidence motion at the parliament (People’s Majlis) against Dr. Jameel, which too required that MDP be on board.

With the game fully set in motion, MDP & some of its supporters & people like myself who have supported the principles upon which the party was founded upon & believed in them, well lets just say that it was inevitable that not everyone was on board with “let’s save President Nasheed at the expense of the rest of the country” plan. Couple of months back, in celebration of President Nasheed’s birthday, MDP came up with a video narration of sorts entitled Hayaatheh Jaluga, loosely translated into “A life in prison”, which when I look back upon was perhaps the foundation upon which the aforementioned campaign was based on.

President Nasheed certainly never has used his horrific experiences at the prisons during President Maumoon’s regime as a campaign tactic. So even back then, when this video first came into existence, me being the second guessing sort of person I am, questioned the move by MDP. Although I am all for people learning what President Nasheed has been through & his sacrifices for the country, I am just questioning right about everything that MDP has been doing up till now. Guess that is what inevitably happens when the trust breaks & you begin looking for problems where none exists. But I believe I am not alone in feeling this way. Betrayed & utterly & thoroughly depressed.

The final straw was the bill that PPM put forward hastily on 21.07.2015, the bill that would see to foreign land ownership in the country, this being right after the session that saw the vote that ousted Dr. Jameel from the position of Vice President. Because of the grudge that MDP holds for Dr. Jameel, who has few or more like zero friends left in the political sphere, not many thought anything of the haste and unjust manner in which PPM speedily executed the no confidence motion put forward, with the help of members of MDP of course.

Without researching into the ramifications, the results & effects that a foreign land ownership bill would mean to a country such as ours, an “emergency” parliament session of sorts happened just that night. Debate that took place saw most MPs in favor of the bill, which of course wasn’t surprising. The uproar amongst the people however was certainly huge. You only had to look at the chatter on the social media to understand that people’s frustrations were at an all time high & that MDP acceding to the bill would perhaps become the final straw.

While people were still trying to grapple with the bill that had been put forth by the government, President Yameen appointed his new Vice President, Ahmed Adeeb, swore him in with the Supreme Justice present & of course on the same breathe sent the decision to parliament for approval just yesterday (22.07.2015). Before the day was through, Adeeb had been accepted as the Vice President (70 out of the 84 said YES) & the foreign land ownership bill had also passed through (70 out of the 84 said YES), both with flying colors.

Meanwhile diehard MDP fans & supporters refuse to acknowledge the fact that all this could not have happened without MDP being part of the package, that MDP could have actually walked the talk they have been preaching left & right since they came into existence. For instance, today’s free whip line still managed to garner the votes required for the foreign land ownership amendment, which would still have been the case had MDP opted for a free whip for the age amendment, both being amendments to the constitution. That would have at least meant that MDP “wanted” to uphold its principles but given the circumstances, left it up to individual members to decide how they wanted to vote. That, I believe would’ve showed the public just who & who in MDP are part of the ring of “corruption” that runs rampant in our parliament today.

For a party that celebrated its 10th anniversary just recently, it is a bit disheartening & disappointing that they don’t have an alternative leader in place to lead the party & contest in the 2018 presidential elections. Betting all they have on President Nasheed as the only candidate that they would like to see become President is unrealistic given the volatility of Maldivian politics & public sentiments across the board. My opinion, as irrelevant as it maybe is that this country would no longer give President Nasheed the chance to govern it again, come 2018 or even later on.

If you ask me, President Yameen has proved himself to be a brilliant politician & strategist. What he has achieved since imprisoning President Nasheed has been nothing short of remarkable. With this last piece in place, President Yameen has managed to severely cripple the trust members of MDP & rest of the public have placed in the party as the “savior” that works for the common good of the people. Perhaps as usual, we might forget what has happened today, tomorrow. But I believe that these ripples of mistrust would continue to gain strength, if something weren’t to give in the near future.

As always, what will happen now remains to be seen. There are talks of a new party cropping up, a “Common People’s Party” that would stand & fight against corruption that is rampant in the country, I’d say the root of all our problems to begin with. Like President Nasheed said in an article in New York Times, “The Dregs of Dictatorship“, dictatorships don’t always die when dictators leave office. To root out the corruption, to put to rights the rotten to the core judiciary of this country, perhaps that is what is required now, a third & somewhat different an ideology from mainstream ones. A party that could stir the masses into action, that would be able to walk the talk & perhaps, just perhaps, lead our country into a place where we could experience even a semblance of tthe benefits of a unified & developed nation.

My prayer, as always is that we as a country be able to prosper, without the corrupt dragging us down along with them. Amen!

RIP The Maldivian Opposition

Vice President Dr. Jameel (Source: Internet)

Vice President Dr. Jameel (Source: Internet)

I’d be the furthest thing from being a fan of the current Vice President Dr. Mohamed Jameel Ahmed. His arrogance, the hate pamphlet that he produced to undermine Nasheed’s presidency etc. are huge factors contributing towards my avid dislike for him. Bashing Jameel is quite the thing. He makes it easy. By being him. But right now, what I don’t understand is the need to undermine him as the Vice President, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and its supporters joining hands with hat of the ruling party, Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) & its ally Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) to lay the “groundwork” that would oust him from his position.

This brings to the mind the episode in which MDP wanted to oust the previous Prosecutor (PG) General Muizzu from his position back in 2012 for whatever reasons. Muizzu resigned without giving MDP the satisfaction. The ‘devil’ that came to replace Muizzu has become the instrument that has been playing to every tune of the current regime, prosecuting everyone left and right with charges of terrorism, even the revered President of MDP President Mohamed Nasheed himself, who was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment, currently transferred to house arrest while some obnubilate deal goes through with the government. Ah. How ‘lovely’ is it when these obscure ‘ha kulhi kuriah’ (six steps ahead) maneuvers tends to blow up in MDP’s face. Point; MDP never seems to learn.

Vice President to-be, current Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, lesser evil? (Source: Haveeru)

Vice President to-be, current Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb, lesser evil? (Source: Haveeru)

This time, it’s the case of Dr. Jameel vs Ahmed Adeeb, the tourism minister of the current regime. Unlike last time with the PG, MDP knows PPM’s game plan. That Adeeb would be the one that would be the most likely to replace Jameel. With all of Jameel’s faults, and those are numerous if you ask me, I still don’t see how Adeeb is a better catch compared to Jameel.

Adeeb did as much and was as damaging to Nasheed’s presidency before the Feb 7th coup. One has only got to bring to the mind the anti GST campaign Adeeb launched in 2011, one of the many efforts to cripple Nasheed’s government. Coming to the present, the vast allegations of corruption that Adeeb holds to his name, the abuses of power he has been accused of, accusations of his involvement in the disappearance of the Minivan News journalist Rilwan etc. are all reasons enough to believe that when it comes to Adeeb vs Jameel, there really is no lesser evil.

MDP seems to be guided by reasons such as Jameel threatening MDP and its candidate Nasheed during 2013’s presidential race by stating that even if Nasheed were to win the runoff, he would not be allowed to assume power. Thus the rationale, he refused the toy that belongs to us & therefore we are entitled to our petty revenge, regardless. Regardless of the chaotic future this deal might unearth in the coming future.

They say tyrannical people will be replaced by people who are more tyrannical than them. And they do say karma will come and find you and slap you on the face, six ways till Sunday, wherever you maybe hiding. Perhaps it’s a case of all of that for Jameel, since the party that was founded upon the principles of democracy, transparency, people’s rights etc. seems to have turned their backs on all of it, to accept a deal of which no details have been forthcoming, to make their supporters understand the reasoning, if at all, behind any of it. Thus. I just have one thing left to say.

May the Maldivian opposition rest in peace. Amen.

“And do not incline toward those who do wrong, lest you be touched by the Fire, and you would not have other than Allah any protectors; then you would not be helped.” (Hud: 113)