Dhivehi Observer, 3 July 2010
Constitutional crisis? Power struggle? Encroachment of one power over the other? However one may define what is going on in the Maldives, there is one thing that is certain – that is our country as a young democracy is trying to emerge from 30 years of darkness and what we face today is the fall out of that past. If we thought that on the dawn of October 29th 2008, we faced a perfect model democracy in the Maldives then we were either too high on euphoria to think straight or we were damned fools. It is going to take more than an election and a separation of powers on paper to bring democratic change to the Maldives and the situation we face today is one of those several hurdles that we have to cross before we reach our final destination.
But one thing is certain – that is there is a section of our society who is really tired of all the political high drama. And that contingent is growing larger by the day. The question is what we going to do about it? Are we going to let the parliament take over the role left vacant by the dictatorial regime of the past? Are we going to let the government and parliament throw stones at one another and see the political fabric of our nation disintegrate before our very eyes? Or are we going to tell them that they are there because we put them there and that they have a responsibility to us, the people of Maldives.
Let us look at the Majlis and the current amendment to the financial Act. If it was not serious it would be damn right hilarious. As it stands, it means that the ordinary Maldivian person cannot even get a passport until the Majlis pass another law decreeing how the passport can be issued because the passport is a state asset. And the way our Majlis seems to function, it would be another 30 years before they even start debating on this one!
Crippling the government is not going to affect those in power. Crippling the government is only going to impact on the ordinary citizen. At the end of the day, it is the people who will suffer. As the old Maldivian saying goes, when the two big bulls fight, it will affect the smaller stones. Many of those who sit in the parliament are those who have benefited from the days of the dictator. Several of them owe thousands of rufiyaa to the people. If these crooks are not brought for justice, there is an even worse scenario that may already be unfolding. That is those in power today may also be tempted to walk the same walk and talk the same talk and think that they can also get away with it.
It is time that the ordinary people of Maldives came out and regained our country for ourselves. Tell the parliament that they are there because we put them there. They have to pass laws not to cripple the government but to benefit us. Tell the government that they should start working on our behalf to make life better for us. And tell the judiciary, that they will have to get their act together and shed their image of weaklings who are easily bribed. Unless we do it ourselves, this crisis is going to drag on and on. But the question is ‘how’? How do we do it?
There is one arm of the society that often gets ignored. That is the Civil Society Organizations. It is time that the CSOs organized themselves and called the government, the parliamentarians and the Judiciary to get their acts together. For the sake of our beloved nations, let’s march to the President’s Office, let’s march to the Parliament and let’s march to the Supreme Court. And let us ensure that no political party can hijack our agenda. Let us take our destiny onto our own hands. As the great Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’.