Comment: The Maldives today

Rozaina Adam is the member of parliament for the Addu-Meedhoo constituency. She is also deputy leader of the Maldivian Democratic Party’s parliamentary group.

It’s with intense sadness that I write this today. Maldives, my beautiful country, a country I was so proud to be a citizen of – while it still remains a paradise for tourists – is hardly a paradise to its citizens.

The democracy that our people hoped to enjoy with the ratification of the new constitution is dying a slow death. The separation of powers, which the new constitution proudly states, has been bundled up into the fist of one person, while the rest of the citizens gape in horror at the abominable unfolding of a dictatorship in front of our eyes.

We as the opposition party remain helpless to do anything as our rights, provided by the constitution, are ripped away everyday bit by bit. We struggle to remain heard, to relay our messages in a feeble attempt to bring check and balance to a lopsided state.

Our messages are met with resistance by the government, which threatens to cut off our voices by sending us death threats and terrorising us in the most horrifying and barbaric ways possible.

It’s been more than a month since a reporter, Ahmed Rilwan went missing. Nobody has any idea as to what happened to him. Has he been abducted or murdered or simply gone missing? Even the police has established nothing so far, but the evidence collected by his family points towards an abduction.

The police, as the paid protectors of the people, have done very little and as far as we can see have not attempted to solve this case at a serious level, as noted by the Human Rights Commission of the Maldives. The president’s simple refusal to comment at all on the abduction of a reporter, about which the whole nation is concerned, came as a shock to the family of Ahmed Rilwan as well as the people of this nation.

A question hangs – why?

Questions without answers

On one hand, as Rilwan’s family and friends and concerned citizen’s struggle to solve the mystery of his disappearance, others face another horror on the streets as young people get stabbed, beaten, and gutted every other day. Everyday, the newspapers unveil the horror of violence on the streets and horrified citizens sit at their dinner tables discussing the terrible dilemma our nation faces. People are afraid to walk on the streets alone, to leave their house doors unlocked, to climb the staircases to their apartments.

And then there are others who demonstrate the need for Islamic Shariah in Maldives – which of course is how it should be, since we are a 100 percent Muslim nation. But how are we going to practice Islamic Shariah or any justice for that matter, in a nation where the judiciary has totally collapsed?

Isn’t it time we all came out to fight for our right to an independent judiciary? But the sad state of this nation is that, when the issue of a Judge Ali Hameed (a supreme court judge who is alleged of corruption and was also caught on tape having sex with a prostitute) was brought to the attention of parliament by the opposition, the ruling party kicked it out faster than one could say ‘Ali Hameed’.

Everyone wonders – where is the government that came into power through an election influenced by a corrupt Supreme court? What is their role in keeping the citizens of this nation safe?

The answer, sadly enough, is that, everyone is coming to the same conclusion; this is state sponsored terrorism. Parliament members with a constitutional mandate to raise their voices on behalf of the people, are terrorised with death threats to their phones, which, having been reported to the police on several occasions, have been conveniently ignored. The law requires that security be provided to MPs and any other citizen who has a life threat and yet the government refuses to provide security to MPs or such other citizens.

As all this goes on, rumours of corruption by government officials, especially at the ministerial level, spread like wildfire and the parliament which is the overlooking body for the government, of which the majority is the ruling party, turns its back on this. And as if this is not enough, they have rolled up their sleeves and set to work on amending bills and proposing new bills which will further empower the president, and pave the way for further corruption.

As this scenario keeps unfolding, it is worth noting that the Progressive Party of Maldives government which came into power as a coalition with JP no longer holds that status. Without JP, the ruling party now is one which held only 26 percent of popularity votes in the presidential election.

The question is, how long is this minority government’s terror tactics going to work? How long will the citizens continue to tolerate these new levels of corruption and violence? How long will these horror stories remain just dinner conversation? That is a question for tomorrow.

For now, from a Maldivian citizen’s perspective – welcome to the other side of paradise – hell!!