Can Maldives take risk again by putting its faith in the Former President Yameen?

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Over the years, Maldives has gone through so many political changes. For long 30 years, till 2003 and even before that, all Maldives knew and experienced was how dictatorship works and what one-person rule meant. Maldives saw a significant shift in the way things were functioning, politically when multi parties started registering itself, starting 2004.

Mohamed Nasheed came as a ray of hope for the country when he won the country’s first multicandidate presidential election. While he had a broader, liberal mindset and a different ruling approach for the country, many in the dark lurked behind his back waiting for the opportunity to drag him down because they believed he was going against our nation’s Islamic values, which led to his resignation from the office in 2012. Though, he claimed that he was under a coup attack by the police and military and was forcibly made to resign office, no actual findings were found that would back his statements.

Yameen Abdul Gayoom joined Presidential office in the year 2013, and the first thing he did as he took over his term was building stronger ties with China and how to make this big international player invest in our country’s infrastructure welfare and how to improve the economy of the nation. Little did he know that he was walking straight into the ‘debt trap’ that China is very well known for. Its not a new finding or fact that China has always invested and shown interest in international countries when she sees a strategic location opening, such e.g. to foresee and understand the graveness of the situation can be taken from what happened in Hambantota, Sri Lanka.

Though the ‘Friendship Bridge’ also known as the Sinmale bridge, China’s largest project so far in Maldives has eased the commoners life’s in Maldives and has created a growth spurge in the economy, is the hefty sum that’s been indebted by the country worth it? At this point of juncture, Maldives needs to maintain cordial relationship with both China and India to get the financial support and assistance the country needs for its development. Political differences within our country that wants to use internal issue as reasons to severe ties with international countries, is a naïve move from our administrations.

And if these issues are still not a concern, can we talk about how our basic human rights were eroded during his term? Yameen is a man who can’t deal well with criticism, his way of dealing with questions is to jail the person who colludes doubt over his way of working. Is this how we want our future nation to be? Oppressed and silenced from freedom of speech, expression, political participation.

Moreover, media which is considered as the fourth estate of a country, who holds the power to shape and shift people’s way of thinking by projecting facts and drawing light, who needs to have the right to draw constructive criticism to the government was held powerless in his term. Yameen passed the controversial defamation law in 2016 and made sure that space for independent media suffocates in Maldives. There have been actual events reported of journalists being abducted and disappeared. In 2017, Yameen Rasheed who was known for his sarcastic comments on politicians was found dead with multiple stab wounds in Male. Religious radicals have been at rise and has played key roles in the government, these unidentified group of people have been under suspicion for playing these foul games in the shadows. Their movements peaked when Yameen was the President. Can all these events be a coincidence or is it a planned conspiracy?

Democracy is needed in a country; Maldives needs democracy and Yameen’s understanding for democracy is not in par with what our nation needs right now. A nation’s government should work for the people and attend to the needs of the people, that’s why democracy is considered as a better and successful form of government. As far as the current government is concern, they may have their flaws but at least they support the idea of democracy and promises Press Freedom. This was proven in the World Press Freedom Index, where it was reported that Maldives has shown significant progress within the year. This change itself will make a big difference within the country, promising for a better tomorrow. If we ever were to re-elect Yameen Abdul Gayoom in the future, can we really trust him that he will lead our country to progress and that our human and civic rights will not be harmed? Is Maldives ready for that risk?