Kasauti Hour at Civil Service Commission


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?

Labor Rights & Sexual Harassment; Enough Is Enough


This is a post that I have been meaning to write for quite a while. But I kept on hesitating for a lot of reasons. For one thing, its a sensitive subject in many ways. After all I am about to talk on the case of sexual harassment that was filed against the Chair of the Civil Service Commission Mr. Mohamed Fahmy Hassan during June last year. Furthermore, I am an employee of the said commission, which made it difficult for me to come out and say all that I wanted to say without “violating” any unwritten rules there might exist. And then there’s the point that this is an issue that deals with a colleague of mine who was so very brave in standing up for her rights from the many women who have faced similar situations of sexual harassment but never having had the sort of support required to come out, had stayed silent all throughout the years; a topic that is still brushed under the carpet most of the time. And then there’s the part of me that believed in the due process taking care of Fahmy, him being voted out in a no confidence motion against him which indeed did happen, but then I guess I should have known better than to believe in a system that has failed on us on so many levels.

I believe that I coincidentally got “involved” in this situation because the Almighty wanted someone whose conscience wouldn’t let her stay silent on this as many seem content to do so. The big fish i.e. the political figures at the forefront are more concerned with the political gain this situation would bring their way or the loss they would face if Fahmy were to be removed from the position of CSC Chair because it would mean power lost at the Judicial Service Commission itself. On top of that Maldivians are a bunch who have become desensitized in so many ways that it just shakes me to my very core to learn about some of the very pressing social issues that this country faces, many of which go unaddressed which is going to be the reason for the imminent collapse of this nation as a whole.

Though I’ve heard many accounts from my fellow colleagues of incidences where Fahmy has more than acted inappropriately towards them, its not my story to tell. Since I don’t hold any power over any of them coming forward with their stories, which I believe if they had or do even now would have changed this whole scenario from what it is right now, i.e. Fahmy finding it so easy to return back to work as he pleases even after being voted out by the Parliament twice. I am not going to talk about those incidences but rather the one “small” incident that marked him in mind as a man unfit to be in a position as such, a position that oversees the rights of around 20+ thousand employees of this country.

It was in the year 2008, when members were first appointed to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and discussions were being held at different levels between the Public Service Division (PSD) of The President’s Office where I worked back then and the newly formed CSC under the Civil Service Act. That day was actually the very first day that I met Mr. Fahmy, who back then was just a member of the Commission. Since myself and a Director General were the focal points assigned to streamline the process of transferring the designated tasks from the PSD to CSC; I found myself at this meeting with Mr. Fahmy sitting right next to me.

I will deviate now into a little history lesson where I am concerned, just to lay out the background of my career. I was employed at the PSD in the year 2001 and went off for my higher studies in 2002. After returning to work in 2006, I had been working for around 2-3 years in the government by the time this meeting was to happen. Even then, verbal sexual harassment was commonplace, most people I don’t think even realized what they were doing because simply put there were no regulations or laws in place that protects an employee from any such incidences that they might encounter. Nevertheless, I had never been on the receiving end of such remarks from any of my coworkers, mainly maybe because I am someone who tends to keep to myself. The point that I want to drive home is that up until then I had never found myself in a situation even remotely like the incident that took place in that meeting. There was this point where everyone was fake laughing as if one of the members present at the meeting had just revealed the most hilarious joke in history and Fahmy while laughing, casually placed his left hand on my thigh as we were sitting right next to each other.

Maybe because my brain didn’t register at that moment what had actually taken place, I didn’t say anything then. It wasn’t until we walked out of the meeting and the Director General who was with me remarked angrily on Fahmy’s behavior that I realized what had happened. For those who think that, “Oh bullocks! It was just your thigh; what does it even matter? I’m sure it must have happened by accident.” etc. etc. the point that is of importance here is the fact that 1- he is a member of CSC, 2- there is no need for any form of inappropriate touching on anyone’s body part at work, and I am not talking about two people who get touchy-feely because they want to and out of mutual consent and 3- yes, it was way out of line and completely inappropriate. If the point of working in a mixed environment is to fall laughing into the lap of every employee of the opposite sex that sits next to you; oh well, then we would be better off with engaging in an orgy than turning up at work.

From that day onwards, I have always been leery of Fahmy; someone who cracks jokes that doesn’t bring a smile out of me because most of the time it is sexist in one way or the other and mostly I just had an inherent distrust for the man himself. I am certain some people are going to be clearly pissed off at me for writing this but then, high time don’t you think?

When the incident that propelled Parliament to take action against Fahmy happened, it was again by accident that I found myself entering the toilet where I found my colleague on the phone, crying. This was right after THE incident had happened in which Fahmy had caressed her tummy and commented on her body weight, which is yes again, highly inappropriate and wrong on so many levels. Since I wasn’t someone that close to her, I didn’t stop and ask her why she was crying, mainly because I had the feeling that she’d rather I didn’t at that moment. But I did later message a mutual friend of ours who said that something had happened and that she had gone home. I didn’t let it bother me overly much until I began to see Facebook statuses from some of my colleagues, most of them seething with anger and disgust, some of whom had been on the receiving end of such ‘tender’ unwanted affection from him. It didn’t take long for me to put two and two together and come up with what had happened which was soon revealed to the whole country; a case that in my opinion was a long time coming.

Ever since I was summoned to the Independent Institutions Committee of the Parliament regarding this issue because my name appeared in the timeline of events that took place that day, I have never looked back. My family and especially my father advised me that standing up for what’s right can never be wrong and that’s where I always find my source of strength whenever I find myself in despair over how casually people treat this incident and whether I should be worried about the fact that I cannot let this go. I was appalled at the level of apathy that most of the colleagues displayed. Some were disgusted because the one who stood up was ruining CSC’s image, others were of the mindset that she shouldn’t have made such a HUGE fuss and then there were those who thought and still thinks that Fahmy sports two wings and a halo over his head.

I was summoned to the Maldives Police Service as well as the Human Rights Commission (HRCM) to provide testimonies on what had happened, the HRCM being the agency that actually did the most thorough interviews to-date after being “harassed” by reporters as to why their investigation was being stalled for so long. They collected so many testimonies from different employees and thus it was a slap on the face to read their decision that there investigation hadn’t been enough to prove or disprove that the incident in question had happened; and this too rather helpfully right before the Parliament was to vote Fahmy out after giving him a grace period in which to resign and exit without making a fuss. But as the events that unfolded have shown, he didn’t, not surprising when he actually doesn’t believe that he did anything wrong!

November 20, 2012 was a day that I was proud of the members of the Parliament, a rare enough occurrence that deserves a mention. PPM was the only party that voted against the motion; not surprising when Fahmy is one of the founding members of the People’s Alliance registered as a political party on August 4, 2008, whose former leader is Abdulla Yameen, PPM’s current Presidential candidate. If you ask me, Fahmy deserves a thousand times worse than being voted out of his position for abusing his position of authority a million times over. If someone were to really probe into what happened; even write an investigative journalistic piece on him, they would find a lot of details that would really put this whole nation staying silent on this issue to shame. The relief felt by that those who believed he had done something wrong was short-lived as the tables once again turned around when on March 18, 2013, the Supreme Court totally proved themselves to be the hypocritical bunch they are and overturned the case of Parliament’s dismissal of the Chair of CSC. Thus began the “war” between the Parliament and the Supreme Court of the country. March 23, 2013 saw Fahmy resume office and later, on April 10, 2013, Fahmy was again voted out, this time the Parliament voting to replace Fahmy as a member of CSC. The bitch slap in the face was to hear that he had resumed coming to work again last week, a news that brought to home just how utterly shameless he really is.

So today, out of my frustration with everyone who was keeping silent and furthermore rallying behind him, for the very first time in my life, I joined the May Day rally (this is the first rally/protest that I have ever joined ever) which was organized by MDP. The last push needed came mainly with the news that the walk organized by CSC to commemorate CS day which coincides with Labor Day was led by Fahmy himself, a walk that was supposedly about the rights of the civil servants of this country. But what better way to mock the rights of the said employees than to let a man like himself lead the rally? But alas, no one seems that bothered about “trivial” issues such as this one. And whether you believe in coincidences or not, I was the one who ended up holding up the placard that says “Fahumy…OUT” (that’s a shot of myself holding the banner right after the rally ended) which if you think about it, is funny in one sense and then again exactly the point I want to drive across. The disappointing factor about the rally was that there was no chance to really vocally call out for his resignation and I think the rally was more focused on the upcoming elections than about labor rights apart from the short speeches that were delivered at the end. In the end I had to satisfy myself with the fact that at least MDP’s rally provided me with an opportunity to become more proactive in a cause that I believe in and helped me at least put the message across to those who have already forgotten.

Consequences for writing this post and participating in the rally is something I anticipate, but if anyone were to take steps against me because I stood up for something I believe in and wrote about the truth and nothing but the truth here, then Fahmy ought to go first. I’m willing to walk away from the position I hold at CSC because its an utter disappointment to work with people who actually have no qualms about him returning to work and resuming office like nothing ever happened. Its as if he went on a short leave of absence and returned to work. It shamed me to see my colleagues walk behind him and rally behind him today, holding up banners that called out for the rights of civil servants. But then again, I guess I shouldn’t expect a desensitized society to really care about the other person and truly empathize, because after all we are the people who would rather watch on a person being beaten to death than move in to help. We are after all the society that kept looking while police brutality rained down from left and right. Says it all doesn’t it?

If women want equal rights at the workplace and to be able to report to work without the fear of falling prey to some perverted male employee who isn’t getting enough; then its time to become proactive. I’m glad that MP Rozaina has put forward the Sexual Harassment Bill which is a direct effect of what happened with Fahmy playing peekaboo with the Parliament’s decision. I call out on women to stand up for your rights. Do what’s right. Doing what’s right now means you ensure the security and future of your own children who would tomorrow lead this nation. Nightmares wouldn’t be the only thing that would visit you when your own child grows up and walks out into a world filled with sexual predators left unchecked; and that’s the legacy you would leave behind if you don’t act now. If no one acts now, whatever leverage that we have on this issue will just disappear into thin air, never to be seen or heard of ever again.

Increase in Salary? Nope, not really…

From the moment that the Circular No 2009/16 was published on the CSC website stating the reinstatement of salaries of civil servants effective 1st of January 2010, its the only thing anyone can talk about. I guess like everything else, most Maldivians do not have the proper information at hand to begin with, thus the surprise and glee on most of the faces of civil servants. And the funny thing is, most people mention this in terms of an increase in the salary when in fact what the CSC is doing is bringing back the salary level to its original state from the pay cuts that were enforced in October 2009.

If any of the civil servants had taken half the time to find out what the Civil Service Act which supposedly protects the right of all civil servants as a whole, they would have understood from the moment pay cuts were made that this reinstatement would take place after the three month period as mandated by the Civil Service Act.

Maldivians have the tendency to shoot off their mouths without half knowing what it is they are actually talking about. When the pay cuts were first enforced there was a lot of outrage from the general public which is quite understandable when you take into consideration how the general population especially living in Male’ barely survive on what they earn with the outrageous rents they have to pay for housing. However what I find highly disturbing is the fact that most do not even bother finding the reason why certain policies are brought about and how or what are the reasons why such a policy may have been implemented in the first place. And of course with the current crop of politicians who are divided on the minutest of issues taking things into their hands and spouting off whatever comes to mind, creates a greater rift in a society of ignorant people who do not even want to be enlightened in the first place. Of course partially this blame lies on the shoulders of the Civil Service Commission itself since they haven’t really done enough on making the public aware of what the Civil Service Act is all about.

With the opposition creating the ruckus that the positions of the upper management in the CSC are being held by wimps and are under the mastery of President Nasheed, the happily ignorant crop of civil servants acted as if a red flag had been waved in front of them, which in turn led to bad publicty all around which could could have been prevented in the first place if someone had thought of explaining what the Civil Service Act says regarding such pay cuts which amounts to something in the form of “If the country faces financial problems a pay cut could be imposed after discussions between the government and CSC for a period of three months, upon the end of which pay should be reinstated. If the need to impose pay cuts for a further period of time arises, this can only be done after re-evaluation of the financial situation of the country and further discussions between the CSC and government.” I bet if someone had explained this to the intended or if the intended had had the foresight to read the Act which protects them, the surprise everyone is expressing over the circular today could have been prevented.

Now let’s wait and see whether the government wants to impose pay cuts for a further period of time and whether the situation is deemed dire enough by the CSC to once again impose the same for another period of 3 months which I bet with everything I have no one is going to be ecstatic about with the rising costs of everyday life which has become the norm recently.