Written By: Aqisa Moosa
At present President Yameen is not only dictating our democratic institutions but also endangering diplomatic ties with countries by letting Maldives be used as a platform to settle scores.
Maldives, since the time I remember the living of the people, the country is a partial dictatorship. Even then we had a culture that supports to listen and obey when “big” people talk. State money have been used for wrong. Here is an incident I came across while I was age of eleven . I was to travel from My Island to Male next day. It was around 10pm at that night. My mom was not at home. I was sitting on the door step waiting for mom when three men appeared. They showed me 3 bundles of notes (rufiyaa) asked me to go with them. Asked me where my mom is. I took a step back and ran as fast as I could towards my sister’s home. That evening it was talked about a delegation from male arrived to the island. An example of how state money has been used. An example of how younger women were valued.
I was among the first batch in army which was recruited in 1989. In 1993, I traveled to my island to bring my mom to Male as she was having schizophrenia. On the day of my arrival our then island chief came to my sister’s home and told that, on voting day I shall come to the island office and stay there with them.
It was close to presidential vote by then. I told the chief that I am on leave and it is not allowed for army to enter any government office without permission of NSS and we can’t take any duty that was not assigned by NSS. Yet he insisted but I didn’t say a word. On the day of the voting, soon after the ballot box was open, the chief has started sending people to take me to the office. I was asked to vote.
It was a presidential election. I kept telling them we, NSS staff are not allowed to cast vote in any election. More than 10 times they tried to take me to the office. Just before closing the ballot box the chief came and asked me to go with him just to listen what atoll office people are telling.
I went with him, not because I really wanted. But to respect him. I never enter the office but near the doorstep the communication system was kept. So I was able to hear what they are talking. They said to ask me who told from NSS, not to cast vote. I replied by saying I don’t have to tell that, but they should contact to Defence Ministry.
Since I denied to caste vote that day I was named “baagee” and called me in that name. Fine. Who cares!! Since childhood I was aware of our island chief and his family causing trouble to our family because our grandfather was previous island chief. So each and every time I travel island some trouble were created for me. That is our democratic system.
President Yameen is the only political I talked against him in a political environment. During 2012 one of the NGO from M.Kolhufushi invited me to do a research about after tsunami living condition of residents of M. Kolhufushi. I spent 3 or 4 days there to take interviews and then compiled the report. Based on the information which was collected I found that by being parliament member of that constituent President yameen has not done much work or any work to provide shelter for the people.
It was not only from 2013, we are not having a democratic system. It was since the beginning. Why it was not talked about before? Information Communication Technology (ICT) started developing in 1980s. Access to education was developed since 1980 for most us. We were not aware of “ongoing” issues. We had and we are having a culture that teaches discrimination since childhood within school system. Most of us value power, money and authority. Maldives being one country with established legal system and all the necessary laws and regulations are in place yet failed to comply.
We are slaves of modern economic system that focuses only profit maximization and holding power in the industry. We are the slaves of free market economy. It is so free that it is making the basic needs as luxury. It is making us to live as debtors. From shelter to luxury, we are supposed to be debtors. We use our religion when we want talk against others. When we want political attention.
A country must be governed in accordance with its constitution, governing laws, regulations, policies, and standards, those conventions we have signed and given commitment. Yet we are failed. Our system is failed to govern.
Saying President Yameen is a dictator will not be enough. Saying his policies are harming the country’s diplomatic relations with other countries will not be enough. We need to start from zero! On what? We have education system. Failed! Our tertiary is also distributing certificates, not developing people. Our human capital lacks skills we need for industries. Opportunities are not given on merit basis. What we must value has changed.
The real thieves are in white collar dress while little thieves are being punishing by judicial system. We believe as long as we are not caught by the hands of law, we are the smartest and most brilliant people. No matter how much harm we are causing to the society.
During the last parliamentary election, I came across families, together they demanded for money and assets from candidates. Openly asking if not given money we will not vote. Among them there were educated certified people of different discipline. Today lots of us are certified but few are educated. We devalue what must be valued and value those we shall not value. There are many wrongs.
Whoever the president is, it is the system that is allowing him doing wrong or right. We elect presidents to govern. If he is not governing, we have all other powers that must take action. If failed to take action, we are failed as a nation. Democracy is a system of rule by laws, not by individuals.
Aqisa Moosa has served as a Director of Management & Finance in the Human Rights Commission of Maldives. She has also worked for 10 years in MNDF.