BBC Hardtalk grills Nasheed on economy, climate, human rights

President Mohamed Nasheed has been grilled on his adherence to human rights, the Maldives’ financial condition and its commitment to combating climate change on the BBC’s Hardtalk programme, broadcast this week in the UK.

Journalist Stephen Sackur observed that given the President’s history as an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, “it is strange that you are now a president at loggerheads with parliament, and who has deployed the army to the streets to quell disturbances.”

Noting that the country had improved markedly in terms of freedom of expression, commitment to human rights and allowing political activities, Nasheed also acknowledged that “there are issues in our country.”

“We are a very young democracy and we are settling down, and we are consolidating democracy and we are going to face challenges. We are presently the only 100 percent Muslim multi-party democracy in the world,” he claimed.

Nasheed was also questioned by Sackur over the government’s arrest and detention of MPs.

In response, Nasheed denied the government had any say over who was charged, claiming that “the Prosecutor General’s office is an independent institution and I’m extremely glad they have dropped the charges.”

“Basically, we have the last dictatorship as the opposition,” he told Sackur. “[But] we do not want to destroy opposition through legal action, because then we will not have an opposition. I believe it will be best to bring about justice through the democratic process, and not necessarily by charging these people.”

How the government should deal with the former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was “a major issue for us”, Nasheed said.

“In the past, our culture has been very ruthless [towards] former presidents. There has always been a circle and it’s hard to pull out of [it]. But the manner in which we deal with Gayoom’s shows us a path of how [we] move forward. I believe democracy will dispense justice better than a courtroom drama.”

Sackur also challenged Nasheed on the country’s financial position, noting that the IMF had delayed the third tranche of its assistance to the Maldives.

“[The IMF] wants the civil service reduced instantly, but we would snap if we did that,” Nasheed said. “We have to be politically mindful of what would happen after that. We inherited 30 years of dictatorship and a huge government – in the absence of political parties all a dictator can do is build up a huge civil service.”

Nasheed denied that the Maldives had negotiated a payment from the US in exchange for taking a prisoner from Guantanamo Bay, as suggested by recent leaked cables of US diplomatic exchanges.

“I don’t think there is substance [to those claims],” Nasheed responded. “We wanted to take a detainee before we came to government. We came to government on a human rights platform.”

On the subject of climate change, Nasheed said he was disappointed in both the Americans and the Chinese “for so irrelevantly talking about this issue as though it were arms control or trade negotiations. You cannot cut a deal with mother nature, or negotiate with planetary boundaries.”

But he noted improvement in so-called sustainable commitments being made by countries such as Brazil, South Africa and China in particular.  “I think the Chinese have gone a long way towards [investing] in renewables,” Nasheed added.

Asked by Sackur as to why the rest of the world should care about the fate of the Maldives, Nasheed responded that “what happens to the Maldives today happens to England tomorrow.”

Listen to the full programme on Radio 4 (English)


37 thoughts on “BBC Hardtalk grills Nasheed on economy, climate, human rights”

  1. Well done, President Nasheed. you've done us proud again! congratulations for a very successful session with Sackur.

  2. I think the President needs to learn a new line for his advocacy other than 'You cant cut a deal with mother nature', I've heard it so many times from him its getting annoying!!

    Am all for Global Climate Change and Environment, but Nasheed should stop trying to be the Grand-father of Environment to surpass his predecessor.. and focus more on domestic issues at hand at least for the next 2-3 years.. and that means very much practicing what you preach about the environment right at home..

    It hurt my ears and eyes when my President goes around lecturing the world, when our sees are full of plastic bottles, our level of environmental awareness is barely sufficient.. you just have to travel on a dhoani to see by the end of a 8 hour trip the amount of bottles, supari packets, and God knows what ends up in the sea.. Renewable energy is a fad word among the policy networks in Maldives, but at the ground level, the awareness and usefulness, practicality and cost-effectiveness of these technologies are not known by the common man.. so i wonder how we will encourage the uptake of this, to accomplish his grand scheme of 'carbon netrality'- it surely wouldnt work, if he's going to depend on a couple of wind farms and a dozen of solar panels...

  3. Listening to Nasheed on Hardtalk was so eerie. It was a repetition of the lies and thats not trues that we heard from Gayoom. Guess its something to do with us Maldivians that we end up with leaders like this. Both look for international approval by talking about environment protection when faced with strong disapproval locally.

  4. It was damn funny to see him lie like that! Did he think that the people here in the Maldives will not see the programme? Or did he think that the 'westerners' were going to believe whatever crap came outta his mouth? pitty. . .

  5. I listened to this programme early this morning..Your President spoke very well, without giving any answers to the questions,,a mark of a true politician..To me, his main concern was for the future of the Maldivian nation,that is its possible dissapearance in the event of sea levels rising.That tells me he cares,,the question is--does the rest of the world care???...Your President speaks like an honest man carrying a great burden on his shoulders,,give the man a chance to prove his worth...

  6. Poor Sackur, I feel pity fpr you. You didn't know when the man was blatantly lieing right on to your face. But we Maldivians back at home know that he is a liar. Come talk to us and ask us how we feel about him. He is no better than the dictator Qayyoom.

  7. I have just listened to the Hard Talk programme featuring Maldivian President Nasheed with Stephen Sackur.

    Nasheed performed admirably. He spoke fluently. He answered intelligently.

    Stephen Sackur asked the type of questions Western media are interested in about the Maldives.

    There are some other questions being asked by the Maldivians themselves.

    In Nasheed's ability to satisfactorily answer these questions will depend the political future of himself and his MDP.

    It is good for Maldives to have a president who pleases the West.

    It will be better still to have a president who commands a bigger majority of votes for himself as president and also wins a majority of seats for his party in Parliament.

    Currently he is very weak as president.

  8. lots of individual ideas delivered with enthusiasm and passion without telling how they are linked to one another. 100 percent spin and 0 substance.

    Sackur summed it up well with the word 'compartmentalization' of ideas.

  9. @Larry,
    Its so sad that some foreigners are so gullible. President Nasheed may speak like a honest man but honest he is not. What he is concerned about is money and ofcourse international awards. He will say or do anything for this to the extent that he was willing to take suspected terrorists in return for support in obtaining loans from IMF. Then again he lied about this too and several gullible foreigners will believe.

  10. Well said Fathina, there are simple things here that need to be done first. Have a proper waste management proceedure in place for all the inhabited islands. The locals have no where to dispose of their rubbish so they do has they have been taught from others dump it straight into the sea and this will distroy this country as well. Educate the people and give the local islands the resources to dispose of their rubbish and teach them how to
    The saying goes 'there is a lot of money to be made from other people's waste' and this is very true.
    I'm all for protecting this country but you have to start from the basic things and think about the local inhabited islands as well. Lets face it on most inhabited islands there is one area which is dump where everyone just piles all their rubbish, if this is anywhere near the water then it will eventually be washed out to sea! I believe the government should ask resorts close by to inhabited islands to help them dispose of their waste or build a small Thilafushi in different atols and arrange barges to collect the rubbish from the islands twice a month. This should be down to the government to organize.
    Stop the business bringing in plastic bags and takeaway containers.
    I can't believe how much waste their is. If the bags are not there in the shop for the people to take they won't, or do as European supermarkets do, charge them for every bag they take!! This will encourage people to start using cloth bags that can be used time and time again. I know some shops were selling eco shopping bags. Why not give a whole load out to people free!
    How many plastic bottles do we go through? We have a Cocola Company that delivers water, well why can they not encourage people to give back their empty bottles and for every bottle they give back they get 1 laree, this will help them save money and the bottles can be recycled!!
    The government, local business, resorts and the people of this country need to work together to protect this country but the government and business need to take the lead!

  11. another maldivian president. another day. and another set of blatant lies! what a pity!

  12. the monster on HARDTALK to represent MAldives !!!.Goodness..BEWARE no truth will ever come out from this monster!!!

  13. I read some of the comments above and noted that most are interested in verbal attacks on the President, without listening and commenting on the substance of the interview. A narrow minded approach!

  14. I thought the president handled the questions superbly.
    And he was honest.
    Yes a lot needs to be done on the homefront in regards to waste disposal and banning of these destructive plastic bags and such.
    But i believe we are getting there, maybe a bit too slow for some people.
    Oh and the question on Wikileaks, that answer rocked.

  15. I read these comments with great interest and notice the 50/50 split with like/dislike for your President.This is common with all governments,none more so than here in the UK,,it makes one wonder if they[government]have anybody's interests at heart,other than their own..I also notice a common thread through the comments--that of the amount of waste/rubbish around your Islands..Here in the UK recycling of waste is now real big business,,with the Chinese having an enormous appetite for anything they can re-use..Surely there must be some entrepeneur who could start a recycling/salvage business covering the whole of the Maldives,with depots on each Island..People employed as collectors,others employed sorting/baling/storing until sufficient quantities are available to warrant nation-wide collection and export..Just think of the employment it could create,maybe need government subsidy to get it going though----HERE WE GO AGAIN!!!!!!!!!.

  16. I just wonder when some of these gullible Maldivians would woke-up? We are a state that is struggling for basic needs. And YES - people lives are getting harder and harder, they are facing unnecessary burdens these days and they are in a trepidation on what's going to happen in the following day and now we are no longer able to get a simple cash card that we could use in abroad if we have to travel to fight with our lives for basic medication. The incumbent government has done nothing except being rhetoric. The economy has simply slumped and is retrogressing and again the so-called 30 years would be blamed for this. Do you people really believe that a nation of this state could afford to invest to environment mitigation while the more affordable states are unwilling to take action? Also, I don't know why some Maldivians believe his interview was so brainy. Seemingly, Mr. Sackur did not want to embarrassed Nasheed any further with more evidence, specially when he lied about the Maldivian politics. Westerners are not impressed about his feeble comment and on how he could achieve his endeavour of influencing world nations on carbon emission.

  17. The president was at least brave enough to go on the BBC and get grilled. We have to remember he introduced democracy to the people, when the opposition party was (and is?) twinned to the Communist Party of China. The same people in the DRP - including their beloved Zaeem - stood by and oversaw a regime that imprisoned people for saying anything critical about the government.

    Lets not forget who is the democrat and who is the dictator.

    For while I know we Maldivians eat a lot of fish, thats no excuse for pretending to have a memory like one.

  18. The President did well....for people who watch Hard Talk more often would know Sackur likes the politicians to get angry and aggressive.
    However, our president handles all the question very well.
    For us maldivians, we have problems in the homefront. But it is an internationally watched show and the questions were based on what the rest of the world is interested in.

    Yes, we have plastic bottles thrown in to the sea, and other rubbish thrown as well. But we all should know that recycling and waste disposal starts with us. If i used paper bags instead of plastic bag that makes ones of us. So instead of blaming the president why dont we as individuals be more responsible and collect waste properly.

    I say WAY TO GO HEP!

  19. V funny Ms. Luna

    So the President is devoid of any responsibility???

    I am completely in agreement that it has to start with us.. But the President do have to facilitate it. I personally have carried bottles, rappings etc in my handbag, because there was no where else to throw it away. I did my part, but isn't there a slight responsibility on the Government's part to maybe, just maybe provide some bins, followed by garbage collection and disposal?

    This is an example at its most basic and individual level.

    And yes, I do watch Sucker regularly, and I have to say he was awefully soft on the President. Normally he would inturrupt the interviewees so often that it feels like the show is really about him and not about what the guests has to say..

  20. Bravo Mr. President
    And whingers, pick your own shit... and there'll be no litter 😛

  21. Did I hear Witchhunt!! Let the cat out of the bag did you, this was not a grillin it was a grilling whilst roastin basted!!! All these comments on here about Nasheed doing a great job, if that was a great job, then I think you are off the chart!!!!

  22. CLIMATE is Anni's way of playing hide-and-seek with the people who are critical of his weak government, just like Maumoon used religion to do the same!

  23. If you can cut a deal with Uncle Sam, what will stop you from cutting a deal with Mother Nature?

  24. Hi,

    What Anni should understand is that he got elected President because many believed him to be a person of integrity. Two years - and the entire perception has changed. Everyone is commenting on his abilities as a fluent liar - almost as good as Gayyoom. Another 'dream merchant.'

  25. our main concern should be how soon are we going to be submerged in the sea!no use making fun of nasheed and his capabilities.

    don't dream of being a rich and powerful country..dream and pray that you all don't go floating..

    unite as a people and quit the maldivian way of making fun of others,for how many of you can sit for such an interview and will even be able to utter a single word??

  26. "Lair means a Den. Is that what you mean? President is a den? hehe"


    I see we Maldivians make this mistake everywhere, facebook,blogs,etc,etc.

    Let people learn from their own mistakes.

    Sometimes I find it funny why so many people confuse LIAR with,lier,lair!

  27. now can anyone tell me wot does dis mean “what happens to the Maldives today happens to England tomorrow.”


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