Comment: Election 2013 – where to, people?

This article first appeared on DhivehiSitee’s Election 2013 hub. Republished with permission.

It has been 569 days since the coup of 7 February 2012. We have walked a long way back in those five hundred odd days.

State-sponsored violence has returned with a vengeance, along with arbitrary arrests and detentions. Precious civil liberties – freedom of expression and freedom of assembly among others, have been scaled back to alarming levels. Basic human rights—freedom from arbitrary arrests, detention, torture and other state-sponsored violence – have been taken away.

Xenophobic nationalism coupled with radical religious ideologies has damaged not just our relations with each other but our relations with the rest of the globalised and inter-connected world of today. From a respected actor punching far above our weight in international relations, we have become a nation viewed as a ‘terrorist hotbed’ dominated by radical Islamist thought with little respect for universal human rights.

Foreign investors have been scared away, international financial agreements reneged on and international treaties cut up and thrown out. Corrupt oligarchs and self-interested government officials have negotiated our sovereignty to appease the national interest of big powers while petty crooks posing as cabinet ministers have sold or rented out our precious natural resources to international gangsters and unethical international business partners for hefty sums that line only their own pockets.

We as a people, once united by a shared belief in our own moderate Muslim identity, are now more divided than ever before, torn apart by the political abuse of religion as a form of absolute control over our hearts, minds and lives. Facts have been sacrificed in the construction of a particular truth, reality itself has become what the rulers tell us what it should be. It seems like we have lived five hundred years in the last five hundred days, all roads leading back to the past, further and further away from the world at present and what it looks set to become in the days to come.

It can all change in the next week. On 7 September 2012 we will decide whether to stay on this road to the past, or return to the present and back to the future. On the other side of this inter-connected world, in the Middle East especially, we have watched the ‘Arab Spring’ unfold. We were ahead of other countries in the ‘Islamic world’ in making a peaceful democratic transition. And we were ahead of others, like Egypt, in having the heady joy of a revolution killed by an authoritarian reversal that took the form of a coup.

Analysts have identified an emerging trend among such countries of an ‘authoritarian push-back‘. Judging from the number of people who have failed to see the events of 7 February 2012 in the Maldives as a coup, both home and abroad, we may well fall within this new trend. Or, we can prove the analysts wrong like we did those who believed peaceful democratic transition is impossible in an Islamic country. We can say no to the authoritarian push-back, preempt the forecasted trend before it can even begin. The choice is ours to make on 7 September.

Let us make it an informed one.

Candidate 1: Gasim Ibrahim

Gasim Ibrahim (61) [or Qasim Ibrahim after re-branding for the campaign] is the candidate for Jumhooree Party. Gasim’s main ally isthe Adhaalath Party, the most politically active ‘Islamic organisation’ in the country.

Candidate Gasim’s defining characteristic, as put forward by him and his campaign team, is that he is the richest man in the country. Gasim is the owner of Villa Group, the largest company in the Maldives with 6000 employees. According to Gasim’s Wikipedia page, although ‘his net worth has not been made public’, it is ‘believed to be in access of 500 million dollars’. Gasim’s properties include several luxury tourist resorts, uninhabited islands, and shipping, fisheries, fuel, construction and manufacturing as well as import/export companies. Gasim also runs Villa High School and Villa College, which, although money-making businesses, he also aggressively promotes as evidence of his philanthropy along with a large number of study loans he has provided for many Maldivian students to study abroad.

Gasim’s chief selling point is his ‘rags to riches’ biographical narrative. Born to a blind father on the island of Dhiddhoo in the neighbouring Alif Atoll, his mother died when he was 39 days old. Gasim was brought up on Maamigili island by his grandmother and other relatives until he came to Male’ at a young age, ending up as a servant boy in Endherimaage, the unofficial residence of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Gasim’s chief patron in the house was Ilyas Ibrahim, Maumoon’s brother-in-law. That Ilyas, a powerful political figure throughout Gayoom’s reign, is now working under Gasim to promote his presidency, is another glorified strand in Gasim’s poor boy made millionaire narrative. Another celebrated one is that Gasim, who did not receive any formal education, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Open University of Malaysia in December last year.

Gasim’s chief pledges are in line with his multimillionaire identity. In addition to laptops and iPads for all children and more materialistic goods to all voters and various constituencies, the Jumhooree Coalition has also pledged that a win for them would ensure everyone in the country will have the opportunity to ‘be a Qasim’. Last Friday Gasim donated a large number of equipment — computers, air-conditions and LCD TVs to schools in Addu City, but has denied it is a bribe intended to influence the elections.

What Gasim’s campaign carefully omits from all discussions about his wealth is his enormous debt. While Gasim was the Minister of Finance (2005-2008), the state-owned Bank of Maldives approved loans to Gasim’s Villa Group worth almost US$ 40 million (US$37,601,520) — 32.4 per cent of the bank’s entire capital. The Finance Ministry, which Gasim headed at the time, held a 51 per cent veto over any decision of the Bank of Maldives board, of which he was also a non-executive member.

Gasim is also presenting himself to voters as a champion of Islam and has formed an alliance with the ‘Islamic party’, Adhaalath, to ‘defend Islam’. This part of his campaign appears geared towards the not insubstantial segment of the voter population that prefers a manifesto for the afterlife to one for here and now. Given Adhaalath’s goal of making Sharia the only source of law in the Maldives, Gasim’s alliance with the party means that a win for him is likely to bring the country closer to Adhaalath’s dream of the Maldives as an ‘Islamic state’ belonging to a revived global Caliphate.

Personal Tidbits

Gasim has four wives, the maximum allowed for a Muslim man, and 12 children, seven boys and five girls. His oldest is studying for a Master’s and the youngest is less than two years old. He also has six grandchildren. Gasim is reputed to have a hot temper and a reputation for not being the politest man in politics. One of his wives has said he is a very ‘caring and sharing’ husband who answers the phone no matter where in the world he is. Another says he is ‘very kindly’, and that he has never spoken to her in anger. Gasim has said that he married four women to increase his chances of having a daughter.

Why should you vote Gasim?

In his own words:

Maldivians would know very well that there is no other reason for me to contest these elections except to bring them the development and progress they want. If I were driven only by personal interest or my own business interests, I wouldn’t need to be running for this position. Anybody who gives it serious thought will know that what I am doing is making their development certain.  In the same breath, every Maldivian who gives it serious thought will also be certain that I will not touch even a penny from our treasury; that I will not allow room for hatred to spread in this country; that I will get the economy back up and running; that with God’s help I will establish justice to their satisfaction; I will not let our independence and sovereignty be disturbed even the slightest; and that I am ready to spill my blood on this ground in protecting our glorious and sacred religion and independence. Every person who gives this some thought will know that they must vote for me as President of the Maldives.

-RiyaaC Programme, MNBC One

Candidate 2: Mohamed Waheed

Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik (60), is the incumbent President, running as an independent candidate. Waheed took oath on 7 February 2012, a few hours after Mohamed Nasheed resigned under duress. Until then Waheed was Nasheed’s Vice President. Waheed insists his presidency is legal, a claim legitimised by the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI) ruling a year ago that the events of 7 February 2012 did not amount to a coup d’état.

Waheed’s chief selling point to voters has been a claim to calmness, an ability to remain undisturbed in extreme turbulence. As evidence of this, Waheed has pointed to his two inaugural speeches at the Majlis, delivered amid riotous heckling by MDP MPs and large protests outside. According to his brother Ali Waheed, it is down to Waheed’s infinite patience and unflappability that the streets of Male’ are not completely chaotic as they were in the immediate aftermath of the coup. With a long and illustrious career in the United Nations behind him, Waheed’s campaign also projects him as a man of the world with the kind of international experience that all his rivals lack.

Waheed has been described by Hassan Saeed, then his chief political advisor as ‘politically the weakest person in the Maldives‘, and his 18 months as acting president has been disastrous for both him and the country. He has presided over a shocking decrease in freedom of expression and other civil liberties as well as the biggestincrease in state-sponsored violence since democratic rule began. Waheed’s government has entirely failed to take any steps towards crucial judicial reform, has been dogged by massive economic problems, and has damaged foreign investor confidence with a range of bad decisions, especially the decision to void GMR’s airport development contract. Waheed insists none of this has anything to do with him and maintains that he has support of ‘the silent majority’ which he estimates to be about 90 percent of the population.

Personal Tidbits

Waheed makes a mean lamb/beef curry, shares domestic chores with his wife Ilham Hussein, loves cycling and listens to Ghazals. He has three grown-up children, two of whom are as involved in his political life as his wife. Until recently, his youngest, a son, was known as Jeffrey but is now referred to as Salim, perhaps to appease the radical Islamists who insist on Arabic names for children as proof of the parents’ Islamic beliefs. His wife Ilham, who is also his first girlfriend, has said what she admires most about him is his morals and good manners.

Why should people vote for Waheed?

In his own words:

I believe that today the Maldivian people want a leader who will take the nation forward calm and steady. People who can bring the necessary development and reforms as smoothly as possible. I have shown this to the best of my ability in recent days. This is a difficult time. This is an unusual time in Maldivian history. It is a time of exceptional change, a time which requires that we go forward with some amount of maturity, calm and steadiness. It requires development of the whole country without personalising the difficulties, by looking at the big picture. We have to find a way to continue with the democratic work that has already been started. I believe that our brothers and sisters will carefully look at all candidates. When they do, I believe that I will receive a lot of support.

-RiyaaC Programme, MNBC One

Candidate 3: Abdulla Yameen

Yameen Abdul Gayoom (54) [also known as Abdulla Yameen] is PPM’s [Progressive Party of Maldives] candidate and brother of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom who ruled Maldives from 1978-2008. The defining characteristic of Yameen’s candidacy is, in fact, this family relationship—a vote for Yameen, the electorate is told on a daily basis, is a vote for Gayoom; electing Yameen would be a re-election of Gayoom by proxy.

Yameen’s chief selling point is that he is an economist and as such someone who can manage the country’s bankrupted finances better than any other candidate. Giant billboards appeared all over Male’ in the early days of the PPM campaign, some with quotations from famous world economists, as evidence of Yameen’s economic competency. Yameen has also promised to concentrate on making things better for the country’s youth, the most troubled and troublesome segment of the Maldivian population.

Several accusations of corruption, including alleged involvement in an international money laundering racketworth  US$800 million with ties to the Burmese junta have been levelled against Yameen. He denies the allegation and all others, describing them as ‘baseless and unfounded‘. Yameen is known for his tendency to sue for libelagainst anyone who makes or repeats such accusations, sometimes claiming millions in damages purportedly for no other reason than to ‘vindicate his good name.’ Apart from the promise to bring back the policies and characteristics of brother Thuththonbe’s [Gayoom’s] rule, one of Yameen’s main pledges to voters has been his promise the plan to restart his earlier attempts to explore for oil in the Maldives. Most of Yameen and PPM’s campaign has otherwise concentrated on criticising rival Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldivian Democratic Party candidate and others.

Personal Tidbits

Yameen has a hard time smiling, a fact which his campaign has sought hard to remedy with several friends appearing on MNBC One’s RiyaaC programme with Yameen to insist on how much fun he reallyreally is. He is, the PPM campaign has insisted, ‘a seriously funny man’, and it is a mistake to view his normal ‘reserve’ as arrogance. Yameen has three children, oa six-year-old boy and two grown-up children. His wife Fathimath Ibrahim is an active member of his campaign, although both his older children he says, absolutely hates the fact that he is in politics. When he appeared on the RiyaaC programme, he was shown relaxing at home with a book which, on close inspection, appears to be Heart Work by Chan Chin Bock [Publisher: Singapore: Economic Development Board] – more evidence of his competency as an economist.

Why should you vote Yameen?

In his own words:

The only viable option for any Maldivian who wants to make their lives better is to vote for me. [Why?] Because the biggest challenges we currently face are in the economic sector—problems in this area are permeating all others. Why is the health sector not developing as it should? Why cannot we add a new classroom to a school? Why aren’t there more doctors, more foreign doctors? Why are we short of IV fluid? These are all budget, money, dollars and sense, Rufiyaa, Laari, aren’t they? So, to find out how to earn Rufiyaa Laari, to understand how to spend Rufiyaa Laari with the least amount of waste and knowing how to draw the political map is the only way to draw the map and get there. Is it not? That’s why I have said a person who comes to the leadership will come with the aim to do something, not to continue business as usual. That’s why I want to say to all Maldivians: if you want to seriously change things for the better, there’s no need to look at any other candidate in my opinion, okay?

– RiyaaC Programme, MNBC One

Candidate 4: Mohamed Nasheed

Mohamed Nasheed (46) is the candidate for Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the only democratically elected president in Maldivian history. He was ousted on 7 February in the coup that was ruled ‘not a coup’ by the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI).

Nasheed’s chief selling point is his long history of fighting for democracy in the Maldives and his pledge to restore it if elected again. Nasheed’s two and half years in government (November 2008- February 2012) was controversial — people either loved him or hated him. Few were indifferent. The Nasheed administration introduced free healthcare, a basic pensions scheme for the elderly, and a desperately needed transport system that made travel between the islands scattered across 90,000 square kilometres of Indian Ocean easier than ever before. Freedom of expression and other civil libertiesflourished to unprecedented levels during his presidency.

A large share of Nasheed’s time in government, however, was spent fighting the always present threat of an authoritarian reversal, the ‘dregs of dictatorship’ that remained within every branch of government. The opposition majority in parliament blocked several key plans of the administration and opposed judicial reformat every turn, vehemently obstructed Nasheed’s push for taxing the rich, making the executive’s job as difficult as possible in the new democracy.

Throughout his years in power, his administration was also dogged by accusations of nepotism, over-indulgence, and most damagingly, of being ‘irreligious’ [Laa Dheene] and anti-Islamic. Despite the latter, it was also during Nasheed’s presidency that Maldivian religious radicals, liberated by Nasheed’s commitment to freedom of expression, most widely disseminated their hate-filled ideologies ultimately contributing to his downfall.

As a presidential candidate, Nasheed still rouses strong emotions. Tens of thousands—men and women of all ages—clearly adore him. Detractors hate him, refusing to believe he resigned under duress and accusing him of concocting a tall tale about being forced to resign. In their version of the truth, he left the position unable to govern or in a moment of weakness. Despite the allegations, all his opponents acknowledge that he is their strongest rival. In fact, all of them have said he is their only rival.

Personal Tidbits

Nasheed is a history enthusiast who has authored two books. A former journalist and an avid reader, he has said his true passion is writing. He loves animals and kept a whole cage full of birds until he was jailed himself. On returning from prison, he freed them all. He loves spending time with his two daughters and, as a committed weekend-cleaner at home, has said if he loses the election his teenage daughter has suggested they start a domestic cleaning company together. His wife of nineteen years, Laila, has said what she loves most about Nasheed is his great sense of humour.

Why should you vote for Nasheed?

In his own words:

I believe the Maldivian people really wanted to ask ‘why’, and to do something by themselves to find an answer to the ‘why’. They wanted to vote, and to establish a leadership from the results of that vote. They wanted to have more than one person to vote for and to have a competitive political environment . People are realising that it is we who have tried to establish competitive politics in this country and I think they accept what we have done in this regard. People also appreciate what we were able to do in our two years. Our track record in government is good. We did not arrest and torture a single person. We did not seize anyone’s property unlawfully. People really wanted to be free from torture, to be safe from inhumane violence. Our track record on that is impeccable. I also feel that people accept the policies we propose for the future. I believe this year’s election results has almost been decided already. The re-registration of voters casting their ballot paper in places other than their home islands has shown clearly that we will win in one round. God willing, we will win in one round.

– RiyaaC Programme, MNBC One

Dr Azra Naseem has a PhD in international relations

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


27 thoughts on “Comment: Election 2013 – where to, people?”

  1. "He was ousted on 7 February in the coup ..." - Azra

  2. Where to? To a bloody, savage and brutal civil war, of course. Nazim, Riyaz and , Imran and Yaameen has ensured that the elections will end in violence.

    Victory, or death.

  3. Vote Nasheed. Seems like the only candidate we can trust, with eveything.

  4. I must commend Dr. Azra on throwing away whatever pretense at analysis that she wanted to project in her writing before. This is where she shines most - as a colorful writer who has all the makings of a useful propagandist.

    However I feel that those who have been awarded doctorates must show at least some semblance of respect for the awarding institution when they make fale/exaggerated claims.

    Case in point;
    1. Nasheed's administration introduced 'free' healthcare - free is a loaded word however I think everyone in the world would shudder to think that it has become a subjective term in the Maldives for some. An unsustainable non-contributor universal health insurance scheme that pays out of the treasury up to MVR 100,000 on an annual basis is not 'free' healthcare. It comes at the cost of higher taxes and the exacerbation of an ever-growing debt problem. It comes at the cost of focusing investment on strengthening the deteriorating health sector. Also the nominal amount of MVR 100,000, while politically useful was not designed in such a way as to prioritize vital healthcare needs. One just needs to look at the details to come up with a true picture of the writer's distorted description of a haphazardly introduced and poorly thought-out scheme.

    2. Nasheed's administration introduced a basic pensions scheme for the elderly - when Nasheed took power, Parliament had been reviewing a bill on Pensions submitted by the outgoing administration. The bill was drafted with a lot of pushing from the World Bank. The bill proposed a non-contributor pension scheme for senior citizens above the age of 65 IF considering the fact that a large segment of this population often reached that age without any form of savings due to the nature of their employment or lack of the same. Parliament managed to pass the Pension Act in 2009 which brought into existence a statutory body by the name of the Maldives Pension Administration Office which would administer the state pension scheme with minimal political influence or politicization of their services. However right before this admirable goal was reached, Nasheed and his advisers saw the chance to mount a campaign that would forever confuse the public about the nature of the scheme and make it appear as if Nasheed had thought it up in is sleep. Before the Pension Office could complete their preparations the Nasheed administration announced that they would start issuing the basic pension from a separate department of the health ministry. What Nasheed never informed the public was that their constitutional right to a pension was to be administered in the near future by a statutory body which continues to serve this purpose to this very day. However Nasheed's political outfit still insists in misinforming the public about this issue.

    3. Nasheed introduced an inter-island transport system - the Nasheed administration, without much study, apportioned the country into several regions and went through the motions of a tender process to award contracts for the provision of transport services within each of those regions to private parties. These private parties were all chosen on the basis of their political affiliation to the MDP and were mostly businesses that had no experience in providing sea-based transport services. Their interests were secured via islands for resort development that were given as an incentive/capital-raising instrument. The Nasheed administration however ignored (or rather deliberately overlooked) the fact that private parties cannot provide transport services on a commercial basis to the small trickle of passenger-traffic between tiny fishing villages. Also the subsidization of such a network from the proceeds of resort development requires careful planning as well as R&D which would be lacking in small business outfits. Throw in the fact that realization of profits from resorts developed on virgin islands would take some time and voila - there we have the wonderful transport system that Azra is talking about.

    I am not saying that any of Nasheed's rivals are saints. I'm just saying that neither is he. Promoting a person you support is one thing but using a doctorate degree to project propaganda as analysis is just so typical of the average Maldivian political outfit. What differs here is that Azra does not use a degree in religious studies and an Arabic-sounding title to validate her writings. She just uses her doctorate and the attached title to promote her adoring sonnets as intellectual comment.

  5. The artistic manner Dr. Naseem portrays the beliefs and ideologies of Maldivian politicians is allways an amazing source of insight.

  6. Religion In 21st century should be an identity, The Maldivian take religion as integral part of life and take more seriously than other vital things that is more important for living. Maldivian will starve to save money to go Hajj and can sacrifice health by starving and doing other religious myths. If you have a philosophy of death being more appealing than life, what you can expect from such people. This is the issue with Maldives, unless the majority of people are enough educated to grab the basic idea of religion, that the religion is simply an individual issue and it can’t be forced down on, those Mullahs whose only bread and butter is to sell the religion. Religion is not the ultimate answer for the purpose of life and definitely it is not as obvious as day and night. There are millions of people who are very intelligent and still they don’t believe in such thing, this is enough for us not be so serious about religion. If you think as individual your purpose of life is to be a slave of your master then be it, but don’t expect others to believe every shit you believe.

    I think why people want others to believe in their religious mumbo jumbo is because they are uncertain about their religion and want as many people to believe it to be satisfied of their stand. Human being is so greedy and selfish, and definitely they will never invite you to anything good if they are sure of it. Maldivian are not that educated to think by themselves and they always depend on something superior. As long as this mentality prevails, democracy will not function smoothly and without democracy you can’t challenge the issues of 21st century. The biggest problem for Maldives is the religion, if people start to take religion as personal matter then maybe we can see a better Maldives.

  7. Here are some additional points which was twisted by the author.
    1. Arbitrary arrest of people, detention , basic human rights . All these was exercised by Nasheed. Gaasim, Yammen Jameel, Chiefe Judge and several MPs were arrested and some were arrested over 20 times during 2 years. Still the writer had described as nothing this sort had happened during Nasheed's dictatorship.

    2.State sponsored Violence : Nasheed had openly requested his people to exercise violence and beat the police . Nasheed had used the highest amount pepper sprays in dispersion his opponent in the history of Maldives.

    3. Nasheed is only the man who had promoted violent demonstration while sitting as a the President and usually demonstration are carried out by the opposition. But the dictator himself goes out while sitting as the president. What a joke ?

    4. Corruption : Maldives had fallen over 100 points below during Nasheed 3 years regime. Corruption had become a daily norm and it was made open for every one.

    5. Nasheed had created so much hate towards Maldives by his unprofessional speeches and personal uncontrollable mouth. he himself can not control his mouth and does not know what to speak and what not to.

    6. He gave so much power to Adaalath to thinking that he can create a religious conflict among ourselves. But the guy failed to do so but managed to create some sort of friction .

  8. True, in Maldives Phd. holders do not uphold the value of the granting institution once certificate is awarded. It's a licence to lie

  9. When we analyze all candidates, the two options through logical conclusion for people to go are Anni and Waheed. Qasim is uneducated, psychologically unfit and is old rigid. Qasim has risen from very unstable childhood to be a tycoon who has the record of addressing the staff if they were his slaves. He is a womanizer and has a mentality of arrogance and dictatorship and definitely he is not a person to be a leader for evolving democracy. Yameen thinks the Maldives belongs to Mumoon and everything what Maldives has is what his brother has achieved. He thinks Maldivan have obligation to vote him to appreciate his brother. Also Yameen has arrogant self centered personality and shows very much of criminal attitude which of course has been substantiated through rumors that he back criminal gangs to achieve his goal.

    Anni has been fighting for democracy and has been central figure to bring a revolution to Maldivian culture of inferior complexity and slavery to obey the people who have money and influence.

    Waheed has mentality and personality of accommodation and flexibility with an attitude that supports freedom and democracy.

    None of four can do any miracles to give what they are promising, therefore when we vote we should look in to big picture. Qasim and Yammen means to be stuck in the past and everybody knows what the past was. Anni and Waheed is future, we can fashion the future provided that we have freedom. And these two guys are only hope if we want be free.

  10. The usual criminal anti Nasheed idiots commenting her again. Soooooo predicable Tsk tsk and Kuribee and ainth etc..
    We all know who you are!

  11. @tsk tsk (the intellect)
    "I am not saying that any of Nasheed’s rivals are saints."
    Oh really? So what would you call them exactly? If you're going to nitpick on Anni's wrong doings, why not elaborate on his three rivals also?

    We have Gasim, an uneducated guy who boasts that he is one of the richest men in the country, with a monopoly on most business sectors of the country, currently owing $37 million dollars to state-owned BML, loans secured while he was Finance minister and on the BML board, a guy that has funded Adhaalath, the main extremist Islamist party in the country using profits from his many high class resorts, to use Islam as one of his few campaign tools and one of the chief funders of the coup? Why is it do you think that he wants to be president? Surely nothing to do with his business interests right? Is he more fit to be president do you think than any of the other three? Or maybe Yameen, famous for a fraudulent $800 million oil deal with the Burmese junta, another chief coup funder and brother of the 30 year dictator. Or perhaps delve into the analysis of Waheed, the weakest politician in the country, words from his own advisor, who refused to step down as an unelected acting president when half the country demanded an election for over a year, while the economy dissolved and the rights of the people were destroyed. A guy who has the cheek to talk about democracy when he allows his police force and military, currently seen happily campaigning with him, arrest and beat innocent people, ignores a corrupt and pathetic excuse for a judiciary and has sold out to the good old US of A, allowing them to install a terrorist monitoring system in place of an operational border control system?

    Tell me, I'm interested from all your vast knowledge, you seem to know more than the rest of us 🙂 Which one of the four would be the best solution for the Maldivian people right now? I personally think Anni, a man of democratic values, a man for the people, who wants to share the wealth of the country with the people and stop all these greedy business men like Gasim sucking every penny from the people. A man who spent years of his life shackled in solitary confinement so that the people of Maldives could at least hope for a better future. A man that promotes peace, is educated, loves his culture, tried as best he could to beat an opposition backed blocking of parliament for two years, fought for an independent judiciary, I don't see these traits in the other three candidates, but maybe I'm missing something?

    I could go on a lot more but I'm beginning to rant like you, and would hate myself to fall into that narrow minded little place that you have found yourself in. And as for the author, I'm not sure why her doctorate needs to come into this, getting a little personal don't you think. If you're going to personally criticise someone of high moral professional standard like this, why do you insist on your alias?

  12. gasim was not so bad back in the day when he was arrested protesting along with nasheed and other activists. nor when he made donations to mdp. neither were adhaalath back in the day when they were calling maumoon unislamic.
    this article is good if it's supposed to be taken as a joke, and it's a joke if it's meant to be taken seriously.

  13. Report itself is biased one sided and only in favor of Nasheed.

    So people who are making comments here should at least have the guts to tell the truth about him.

    Tsk , has highlighted things which are true and he had not made up any story like the the writer .

    Nasheed is not a democratic leader and he is a dictator and he does not know how to digest any criticism against him.

    If he has any democratic values, and if he was a leader for the nations, he would still be our president. But he chose to be the leader of few selected MDP members.

  14. To answer your question "basher", my alias-hating friend, I must repeat myself.

    None of the candidates contesting the elections are saints. The writer however insisted on portraying her chosen candidate as free of all flaws. I was merely pointing out some of the distortions she used to mask what were devastatingly bad decisions on Nasheed's part.

    I do not have any personal knowledge of Qasim but I have seen a PDF document circulating on the internet which is purported to be a leaked draft of a report prepared by Grant Thornton on the subject of abuse of influence over BML by various persons in power. Highly interesting read and more so given the fact that the alleged culprits named in said report includes a well-known MDP financier as well - perhaps why it did not become effective fodder for the righteous and paragons of virtue.

    I do not personally know Yameen but the draft of another Grant Thornton apparently makes similar accusations against him.

    Sigh....such is our plight is it not? Most of the candidates contesting this year's election are discredited either by their affiliations, past performance or accusations against them. Nasheed himself is still facing trial for abuse of power to arrest and detain a judge outside due process. And yes I think the mere mention of that fact will invite several who have their interpretation of the law to justify whatever our chosen candidates do.

    Let us just relax and vote for whomever we wish. I was merely chipping at the writer's candy-coating for the benefit of those who might actually like some constructive criticism of Nasheed. Notice that I refrained from any tabloid-style musings on Nasheed's skills as a chef/domestic servant/polygamist.

  15. Axes loves Nasheed so much that she thinks Nasheed kidnapping a judge is being a champion of democracy. Likewise Nasheed arrested his political rivals, Yaamin and Qasim with no judicial process. This was democracy in action Azra so loves.

  16. What is Nasheed going to do about the religious vigilantes that already walk the streets of Male', asking people on their "list" whether they are Muslims or not? Let them die? Ignore the issue until lives are lost or another coup happens?

  17. While not commending any of the four candidates in the fray, we Maldivians will fail in our duty if we surrender ourselves to big power and interests of India like Anni is doing - he visits Delhi often and prostrates...

  18. kuribee conveniently forgets that the person "ablho" 'arbitrarily arrested' was a pedophile judge whose corrupt rulings marked as a 'threat to all Maldivians' by the MNDF and MPS.

    Or maybe he's just a bad liar.

  19. To an outside observer this is a very much well balanced report, but then one can easily deduce that the writer is promoting Nasheed’s image. I bet that the report was tailored to promote only one image that Nasheed is the champion of democracy and freedom and that he is the only one humane enough to be the president. For example, “On returning from prison, he freed them all (birds in cages)”. Azra Maldivians are too mature now; you cannot deceive them with your powerful metaphors. Also to quote Azra “ In their version of the truth, he left the position unable to govern or in a moment of weakness”. We are aware that truth does not exist in the country and it’s always our version of truth and their version of truth. Also commenting on backsliding democracy in the country? Were we ever formally democratic? We are still the REPUBLIC of Maldives.

  20. @Tsk Tsk. As usual, your critique is refined. You leave no stone unturned. You certainly have a sharp mind.

    However, the cycnical nature of your feedback seems a little - misdirected.

    The title of the article starts with the word 'Comment." I think we have all read minivannews enough to understand that this word comment grants the auther an artistic licence to express their opinion. It was never MEANT to be an objective presentation of empirically verifiable facts.

    Even I have become aware of an all too human side too Anni. But I found that the poetic nature of the presentation helped me to really "FEEL" some of the moods in the Maldives.

    For example, whilst reading the Gasim narrative, I found myself feeling sympathetic with Gasim and the cause he represents - a symapthy I had heard expressed - but never felt or understood before. Of course I am aware that political narratives are highly subjective constructions, and I would not like my children to be brought up in the Maldives if Gasim's policies were implemented. However, the feeling of empathy many have with what Gasim represents is a very real feeling, even if it is based on a highly selective, even embellished presentation of the facts. I am appreciative that I have been able to understand a little of this thanks to Dr. Naseem's art. It means that if ever I needed to critique Gasim's policies, I could do so with empathy - and therefore much more effectively.

    Also, I was moved by the story of Anni setting the caged birds free. Even though I have no doubt you could convince me that this was a PR stunt ONLY, the feeling of desparation for freedom the symbolism produced within me was extremely powerful - and IS a feeling many experience. Feeling this helped me to understand how even a normally extremely intelligent person, IF they felt THAT HUNGRY for freedom, could be manipulated into supporting MDP due to Anni's appeals to liberty EVEN THOUGH deep down their minds TELL THEM they are supporting either a false or at least an unrealistic vision.

  21. I usuthey don't like the irritable political hubris Azra churns out they usually fail to deliver the point due to the losses manner of her prose, but this propagantists piece is calm and and appealing.

    From the wealth invested Mr. Burma Gasim to Burmese Junta economist, I was thoroughly entertained, and mildly titilated.


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