Jumhooree Party (JP) leader and presidential candidate Gasim Ibrahim launched a new pledge on Tuesday – three days ahead of the re-scheduled election – titled ‘Personal Pledges’, vowing to provide each citizen with a “more dignified life”.
Speaking at a press conference held to reveal the new pledge Gasim’s coalition partner, former interim Deputy President of Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) Umar Naseer – stated that the new pledge would “benefit and be a long-term advantage to every individual Maldivian citizen without any discrepancies between one another”.
Naseer stated that the JP candidate is currently sending letters to members of the electorate detailing the new pledge. Along with the letter, a form with a list of applicable pledges that citizens can request is to be sent to each citizen, which needs to be filled out and returned to the JP campaign offices.
“If you beloved citizens, God willing, elect me as President in this year’s presidential election, I pledge to fulfill one or more of the pledges listed in this letter preferred by each citizen so as to ensure a dignified and respectable life for every citizen,” the letter reads.
It then goes on to state that, if elected, Gasim would assign “an annual amount of MVR1.5 billion from the state budget to fulfill these personal pledges in accordance to a law or regulation which will be passed to support the matter”.
The categories in the attached list are: aid/loans, advance to newly begin building houses, purchasing of flats, costs to complete houses, materials needed for a household, funds to start-up a business, funds to expand a business, course fees/tuition fees/school fees, funds to receive treatment abroad for permanent illnesses, repayment of loans, repayment of debts, and payment of house rent.
It ends with an additional column titled ‘other’, which, according to Naseer, can be used to request for anything not already listed in the form.
However, the party does not detail – either in the letter or the press conference – any application for the deadline.
JP Spokesperson Moosa Ramiz said that this was done deliberately so as to let the electorate know that if Gasim is elected, their requests will be processed even if submitted at any time in his five year term.
“The thing is, we will only be able to fulfill the pledges if we win the elections and come to power. And so we decided to not specify dates as the people can continue submitting their ‘Personal pledges’ at any point in time during Gasim’s five year term,” Ramiz said.
“Now, once elected, it doesn’t matter to us who is submitting a request – whether it is someone who voted for Gasim or not. We will fulfill their wishes regardless of who they might have voted for,” he continued.
“We are getting an extraordinary amount of support for this pledge. I don’t know yet what the exact number of submissions are, but I am confident that we can tell just by using commonsense that such a pledge will be receiving immense support. After all, for over 30 years even to date, the average Maldivian citizen cannot make ends meet, even married couples are unable to find time to sleep together as they are forced to share rooms with children due to population congestion. Therefore, I am sure this pledge is being very well-received,” he stated.
Elections Commission Secretary General Asim Abdul Sattar told Minivan News today that the pledge has not been brought to the commission’s attention. He further said, if it the matter is submitted as an official complaint to the commission, it would investigate whether the failure to provide a deadline to submit pledges by citizens exerts undue influence on the elections.
An official from the Anti Corruption Commission, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated that the commission members “wished to refrain from commenting on the matter at the current time”.