Comment: Let them eat cake

As the world watches the escalation of violence in the Maldives, the media, both nationally and internationally, has focused on the major characters in this unfolding drama. A corrupt government headed by an aging dictator was, for a short period, defeated by a popular movement led by a relentless activist, recognised for his fearless and uncompromising struggle to change the system.

However, the old regime was returned to power by the coup on February 7, barely four years after the previous government was established through a popular democratic movement. This is the stuff of Hollywood movies, but the script is still being written…

Democracy or Oligarchy? The dictionary definitions of these conflicting ideologies do not clearly reflect the real reasons behind the political struggle and the recent coup in the Maldives. It is not primarily a drama of personalities, as some of the media interviewers have portrayed it. It is a struggle between an oligarchy doggedly maintaining its privileges and a growing number of Maldivians who refuse to be beaten or intimidated into submission. Baton clashes with belief. Power clashes with powerlessness. And most importantly, privilege for the few clashes with justice for all.

For centuries, pre-eminence in government has been synonymous with privilege in the Maldives; and the privileged few used their power to do little other than to preserve their position and lifestyle. Gayoom, who was educated in the Middle East, came to power with such promise of change, but managed only to perpetuate an Arabian Nights style of governance.

Under him, the Maldivian government continued to be inward looking. The rule of the privileged few continued to be the norm. Thirty years of exploitation and repression under Gayoom left the country economically and emotionally bankrupt. The social results of this are seen in the plethora of problems that the Maldives faces today. One outstanding example is the neglect of the atolls- the economic backbone of the country.

While members of the privileged oligarchy lived the lifestyle of the rich and famous funded by the country’s earnings and the aid that was poured into the country to assist its development, there was a deliberate neglect of the islands outside the capital Male and their need for education, health care, and employment. This neglect led directly to the beleaguered state of Male today. Thousands upon thousands of Maldivians go to live in Male, to work and educate their children. Today, Male is one of the most crowded and polluted cities in the world. Privilege, married to self- interest, leaves long, dark shadows.

Privilege also goes hand in hand with exclusiveness and a strong sense of entitlement as evidenced by Gayoom’s regime. State money that was the right of all citizens was spent on personal aggrandizement. ‘Theemuge’- Gayoom’s presidential palace- and the millions of public money spent on it, is a symbol of corruption and excess that will stay with us for many years. However, the platoon of luxury yachts and the lifestyle enjoyed by his family and friends were not seen by them as a result of embezzlement, but a reflection of what they were justifiably entitled to.

Such self-deceit went further. Just as the colonial powers and the Christian missionaries of the past justified their dealings with the indigenous people of the colonies as humanitarian and ethically sound, the regime justified its way of doing things as enlightened and for the public good. For years, the old regime has argued that the Maldives was not ready for Democracy; this became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

This style of archaic thinking assumes that change for the better can only happen when it follows a time line that suits those who are opposed to any change which threatens their privileged lifestyle. The return to that regime suggests that Gayoom is of the belief that the country will not be ready for such a change in the life time of his children either! The truth is that any major progress in human history, such as the growth of Islam in its early years, the development of the parliamentary system or the emancipation of women in the West, is achieved with pain and commitment. When the oligarchy takes the moral high ground, it asserts that the ordinary public is at a lower level of evolution- incapable of rational or intelligent behaviour. Will the regime now destroy the schools, keep economic power in the hands of the few, and then tell the many that they are too ignorant for Democracy?

“Let them eat cake” is a well-known quotation possibly misattributed to Marie Antoinette, the wife of Louis XVI, whose regime was toppled in the French Revolution. The queen, who had indulged in a lifestyle of huge affluence was told that the peasants had no bread; bread being the staple food of the French peasantry and the only food they could afford. The queen’s reply illustrates her lack of understanding of the predicament of the poverty-stricken population.

Privilege is characterised by this sheer obliviousness to the concerns and opinions of the less fortunate. Thus the February 7 coup in the Maldives is not merely the effort of an old regime to reinvent itself, but it is a deliberate and belligerent signal that the privileged regime and its supporters can do what they please regardless of what the ordinary citizen feels. It is an overwhelming show of strength: they can depose a legitimately elected president, they can beat people, including elected representatives, on the street and they can wipe the slate clean for those who have stolen from the country or committed grave crimes against the Maldivian people. It is a show of huge indifference.

There is nothing that testifies to this attitude more than the employment of Abdulla Riyaz as Police Commissioner and Hussain Waheed as his deputy. Even the least informed of the Maldivians understand that these people were the driving force behind the horrifying escalation of police brutality under Gayoom.

An oligarchy, such as the one in power in the Maldives, is unable to sustain itself on its own. Maintaining antiquated rules of behaviour and supressing the beliefs of the populace is increasingly difficult in the age of the internet and social networking. Unholy alliances have to be made and the regime under Gayoom relied on the police to stay in power.

In the minds of many Maldivians, the name Gayoom is synonymous with police brutality and torture and ill treatment of political prisoners. It is not surprising that the most committed detractors of Gayoom’s regime and its scarcely disguised puppets in the present administration are those who have been at the receiving end of the inhumane treatment. In the short period of time when Maldives was ruled by a democratically elected president, this reliance on the police to enforce compliance disappeared. It is possible, given time, it may have changed not only the way the people perceive the police, but also the way the police saw their own place in the community – perhaps as the caretakers of a more humane and compassionate society.

However, the February coup has introduced a more sinister note into this unholy alliance between those in power and those who help uphold this power through the use of fear and force. This time, the allegiance of a number of police and military has been purchased. It is not difficult to conceive of a future Maldivian police force, with shifting allegiances and well-honed negotiating powers, cutting the best deal for themselves. Less obvious, but yet more insidious, is the effect of using the police to uphold the rule of the few. T

The Maldives is a small country, and much of its social functioning is based on connectedness; the type of face to face relationships which unite and hold small communities together. Senior police officers, bribed by a handful of rich supporters of the regime, have ordered the juniors officers to beat their sisters, brothers, uncles and aunts. These are ordinary people who have little to gain by the power-play of their superiors.

Recent events in the Maldives also highlight another of the problems that privileged oligarchies have to address. No modern oligarchy has managed to completely obliterate social mobility. The ambitions of small groups of people who fight their way up the through private enterprise have to be addressed. The nouveaux riches of the Maldives have reached a stage where some of them are starting to question years of hard work which has not afforded them the privileges and influence to which they have aspired. Although oligarchies, such as the present regime, do not welcome new blood with open arms, they do manipulate it.

The coup represents an outcome of synchronicity – where the needs of the oligarchy and the aspirations of a small group of rich resort owners struck a meeting point. When in power, the Maldivian Democratic Party introduced a system of taxation that did not please some of the wealthy resort owners as well as low end tourism that would open up the industry to ordinary Maldivians. These efforts by a people’s government to improve the lot of the ordinary Maldivians were a huge threat to a small group of the rich who have enjoyed a monopoly of wealth alongside their friends in the regime.

The possibility of a law that would ensure that tourism profits in fact trickled down to the local economy by putting it through local banks, was another affront to some of the powerful resort owners. Like the members of the regime, they too have an interest in maintaining the status quo, so that both sides can continue building their own empires, be it based on power, money or influence. In aligning themselves with a cruel regime, they have tarnished their own names and become traitors to their nation.

However, oligarchic governments are also invariably threatened by a more fundamental force that is not so easily manipulated. This is the inevitable state of conflict which ensues between the power of the few and the needs of the many. Eventually, the down -trodden simply refuse to be part of the narrative and mythology perpetuated by the privileged few.

Some of the greatest upheavals of human history are testimony to this simmering sense of resentment. The French Revolution, The Russian Revolution, and the Chinese Revolution are all well documented examples of how the masses revolt against such inequalities. Inevitably the people find their voice in the figure of an individual who is prepared to be the punching bag of the powerful bureaucracies. A brown man with spindly legs wearing a dhoti makes an appearance. A black man insists that he wants his children to be judged by the strength of their character and not by the colour of their skin. An old woman refuses to sit at the back of bus and decides to break the law. An Anni appears…

Justice is a powerful threat to privileged oligarchies. Some two thousand years ago, Aristotle argued that the ordering of a society is centred on justice. No oligarchy has yet managed to convince the under-privileged majority of a nation that what is justice for the minority is also justice for the masses. And justice matters. The fundamental search of the human spirit is not, as advertisers would have us believe, to holiday on ‘the sunny side of life’. Nor is it money. It is a search for the confirmation that each individual life has meaning and each individual has a right to live in dignity. This is the point of civilised society. This is why, justice is central to the smooth functioning of any society. This is why one of the most enduring symbols of the anger against the coup of February 7 is a T-shirt that simply asks, “Where is my vote?”

This is why injustice penetrates deep into the human psyche. There is nothing that unites people more than a shared list of grievances. In more recent years, Martin Luther King Junior echoed these sentiments when he argued that, “Law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.” Indeed, we need to worry when law and order have been unable to function effectively in the Maldives for over thirty years, due to the self-interest of a small minority of people.

Democracy or Oligarchy? This is no longer a political question. Nor is it an issue about two strong individuals. It has become a moral and ethical judgment that every Maldivian has to make. We must decide whether we are brave enough to choose ‘the road less travelled ’, make mistakes, take risks and grow towards maturity as a nation, or continue to be bullied by an oligarchy which, by its very definition, is focused on its own survival at the expense of the population.

The rest of the world also has to make a decision; the well- known words of Edmund Burke are hugely relevant to the situation in the Maldives: “All that is required for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing.”

It is time for good men and women, both nationally and internationally, to stand by the Maldivian Democratic Party and help write the script for a new and more enlightened age of Maldivian history.
The time for action is now.

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33 thoughts on “Comment: Let them eat cake”

  1. This is an excellent article! Puts the coup and their style of administering power into context!

  2. The sad truth about the Maldivian people is that they are inherently right-wing. This viewpoint has been inbred into the mind of the native with over three decades of skewed politics and decidedly devious education.

    Unfortunately, the end result is a large population which is still fundamentally incapable of free thought. I guess you could say that the populace has been fed a staple of cake, such that significant numbers of people no longer have a taste for, nor desire to eat bread.

    kudos to you on a spectacular piece.

  3. Thsnk you Latheefa Ahmed.This is really a very interesting and well written opinion.would like to get more from you.

  4. The indoctrination of the populace to elitist values of seeking validation from strongmen and more recently to the faux Islamic belief - "follow the insane Sheikh" must also not be discounted.

    We must admit though there is a discord between the beliefs and values people express and those expressed anonymously in the polling booth. The huge turnout for the 23rd Dec protest to "Defend Islam" would have a naive observer believe that these people will given the choice elect Islamic candidates.

    But look at the composition of the Majlis.

    With the increased debate of politics via via social networking sites by the internet savvy youth and the recent induction of women at grassroots level into politics, among other developments - the people cannot be kept in the dark forever.

    I am not betting on the current cabal of bandits lasting too long.

  5. This is a nice article but too long and too much rhetoric. As someone from an underdeveloped island I know very well of what oligarchic rule can do to islanders. Oligarchic rule stems from Male’ and I think many people hoped that with the rise of MDP this would change. Unfortunately we just saw a new set of oligarchs come out from MDP. Mariya Didi’s family including her in-laws and siblings; Ameen Faisal & Farahanaz Faisal and co.; Nasheed’s family including his nieces and friends – these are examples of new oligarchic networks that came about when MDP came to power. These are rich, Male’-born, foreign-educated and corrupt elite groups that used their power to give each other jobs, promotions and all the privileges that come with being in power. If someone can tell me that these groups would have refrained from undertaking corrupt practices I would believe the author’s oligarchy comments as only Gayoom’s trait. The author has failed to trace oligarchic rule to MDP because clearly she is fan of MDP. No problem in being a supporter of MDP but there should be more objective discussion when discussing an issue such as oligarchy in the Maldives. Gayoom and his entire group were oligarchs, no doubt, but so where these MDP elites. It was as it they were following the footsteps of Gayoom and his gang! Ambassador positions, secretary positions with the President’s Office, resort bids, board member positions- these are some of the positions that were shared amongst the MDP groups’ when they were in power. Oligarchs are everywhere in the Male’ and some of these MDPians have significant links with Gayoom and worked with him to strengthen his rule in the past. We have heard about the Gayoom’s corruption story a million times and when MDP was given the chance to change this they did the same things Gayoom did. The only exception was that MDP gave us more political freedoms but corruption, deceit and deprivation remained the same.

    Everyone pretends to care about islanders but no one really cares, it’s all about who gets the big seat and the most profit out of power for the oligarchs in Maldives. You also talk about Chinese and Russian Revolution – these revolutions created dictators (Stalin and Mao) that starved and murdered their own people for decades. These revolutions show examples of tyrants that came to power in the pretence of helping the peasants and once in power resorted to brute force and oligarchy. And comparing Nasheed to Rosa Parks, Gandhi and Martin Luther King is farfetched!

  6. Fathimath is very right. There are some good points in the article. But its all too lopsided. The author is so unashamedly pro-MDP. She failed to point the oligarchic rule and corrupt practices of Anni's regime. Of course Gayoom's 30 year regime was also an oligarchy and was corrupt to the core.

  7. Completely agree with you Latheefa Ahmed. The elite of this country has got to realize that their jet set life and globe-trotting for fun, is all done at the expense of poor people in this country, and just because you give some rufiyaa to an old aunt or uncle here and there, which will not make a dent in your pocket does not mean you have done the community a service. You should be ashamed, ashamed for pocketing from their misery.

  8. Shiuzza you are one of many who thinks 30 years worth of corruption can take place within 3 years?! There is no logic to it. Gayoom continued to stay in power through brute force, Nasheed was put out of power with that same force. Nasheed's government did more to the Maldives than Gayoom ever did, it is finally starting to look like a real country, of course there were mistakes made but the way to rectify it is not through reviving a dictatorship we had put in the past. This is the same process many countries go through, our feudalist past is still very real despite democratic changes, that was reversed to some extent - people could get scholarships and grants based on merit not through favoritism of Gayoom. People got medication without favoritism, and basic necessities were promised. New riche created is just the new wave of young people who have come out of privileged families, from Malé, yes - why? It has nothing to do with MDP, it is the result of how the country has functioned under Gayoom. Nasheed's family benefiting from his presidency is pure propaganda with no basis.

  9. "And comparing Nasheed to Rosa Parks, Gandhi and Martin Luther King is farfetched!"

    Did you even read the article?! She did not in any way compare those people to Nasheed she was drawing comparisons to strife they faced to change their country to what we have gone through to bring democracy.

  10. The new elite from Malé has nothing to do with MDP. It is because of the way Gayoom centralised Malé and did not develop the outer islands. You cannot make comparisons between Gayyom and Nasheed, one continued to stay in power using brute force for 30 years, the other was ousted by that same brute force. Nasheed's family benefiting from his presidency is a joke!

  11. A brilliant article!
    I hope the rest of the world will read it and understand what is going on now.

  12. Amazing all what some of you got from reading the article was the comparison of Anni to Rosa Parks or MLK? This article is how it is, It is the reality we lived in and since february 7th the elitists has returned to claim what they believe is theirs to rule and divide. This time the second generation has stepped up to take over from their parents and rule the Maldivians who they believe are not worthy of freedom or democracy. Mohamed Nasheed is the only person in Maldives who will ever be mentioned in the same sentence as MLK or even Rosa Parks.

  13. Such tyranny will only succeed while the masses are frightened into submission. Thank you Latifah for an honest account of the situation at hand. May your words give hope to the countless others who feel the same but are hesitant to say so. People should not be afraid of their governments, Governments should be afraid of their people.

  14. Much of the world knows the Maldives only as a beautiful island resort under threat by rising ocean levels. This analytical and well written article detailing the political situation makes interesting reading. Well done to the author for bringing it to the world's attention.
    "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men (and women!) to do nothing.

  15. Very true - pre-eminence in gayooms government was indeed synonymous with privilege. I am so glad that within such a short time, such a strong well established idea now seems totally ridiculous. i do not know why people are commenting against this, do they want to be voluntarily enslaved.

    And yes, change and conflict are part and parcel of the democracy package we are all trying to inherit. It will be a struggle and its one worth the fight!

    Thanks author for putting quite a lot into context. i just hope people would read into it and understand what is really being said here instead of blindly commenting on it.

    i like this article quite a lot.

  16. @ Fathimath Shiuza

    Completely agree with what you said.
    Nasheed and his cronies did exactly what Maumoon and his cronies did. The difference is that during Nasheed's time the cake was shared between a different group of people -- Nasheed's family, relatives and friends.
    This was what Nasheed promised to change. But he changed not for the better, but for worse.

  17. @ Fathimath Shiuza

    Come on lady! do away with your inferiority complex and accept the reality.

    Democracy is just a fancy word to describe an imaginery state of governance. In every society there will be the elite, the working class etc. The problem Maldives is facing today is because of the inferiority complex that the Raajjethere people harbours they are refusing to do any work and expect the state to feed and cloth them.

    Every society needs a hierarchy to function. If we do away with it you have a lawless society like the Maldives. We have to rely on expats to get the country moving.

  18. This article in my view is not suggesting to bring Anni and his team back into power, but is calling out for the citizens of Maldives to not let go of democracy. If in your opinion Anni's government is corrupt, you atleast had your right to vote for a change during his rule. What chance do we have now of voicing out our opinions about the present government officials (after coup). You cant even let yourself get caught even glancing at a police officer without being beaten up by them. According to them, we do not have the right to even look at them now. Fear is their weapon. You've experienced yourself how Maumoon's regime treated people who wished to practice their right of speech. The return of Maumoon's regime is the return of oppression. What this article is calling out for his people's right to vote. People should not forget that Maldives is our country; of all Maldivians (rich & poor), and these government officials as our servants. It is their job to serve us, to govern our country, to enforce the laws set by us. Do they not work for a salary paid by the citizen's of Maldives?! It should be solely our choice who we decide to hire to do the job. Wouldnt you want to feel safe in your own home? After three years of bliss, now we are suddenly under terror enforced by our own national security force. We are not their sheep and they are not our shepherd. We are slaves of no one but God. We must not forget that. Help bring back democracy, to practice your freedom and for the safety of the future of our nation.

  19. I completely agree with Latheefa Ahmed's points in the article. I also agree with the the comment made by Fathmath Shiuza.

    Self-interest in politicians and religious exploitation to coerce the common people has left me quite hopeless.

    Every generation should be allowed to live with dignity and respect but it looks like things will get worse in my life time.

    I no longer know who to vote for.

  20. Too much spin. Shiuza is spot on. Why are we comparing Anni to Gayoom anyway?

    We got rid of Gayoom to bring a better Maldives. We did not get a better Maldives. It is pointless to say that Gayoom was here for 30 years and Anni just 3 years. I am a lot older than most folks here and have seen from Nasi's, time too.
    The first 10 years of Gayoom was better than the first 3 years of Anni. The only positive Anni had was freedom of speech. Nothing else.
    Initially Gayoom did not bring so much of his family into it. At least not in the first 10 years.
    What would Anni have done if he was here for 30 years?
    In 3 years he has locked the Supreme Court, had a Judge renditioned, locked up two prominent MPs, gave away 100s of islands to his cronies, etc.
    That is alright but he claimed that this was a multi party democracy. Gayoom never claimed it such.

    Anyway what we should be comparing Anni is not to a brutal dictator of the past but what he claims to be that is, a modern democrat that is honest and not corrupt and operated within the Constitution.
    In that he has failed miserably.

  21. WOW! What an impact! Inspiring! Combines the intelligence of a matured philosopher with the emotional velocity of a religious experience.

    I agree, the struggle to choose one's political destiny through free and fair elections NOW is the struggle to reclaim the humanity of the Dhivehin!

    This is one of the greatest things I have ever read.

  22. hmmm...whats wrong with these fragmented and empty people fighting against each other restlessly day in and day out in every forum, interactio, gathering and article on tagging and defining whether anni or maumoon and co or both is more oligarchical,dictatorial,satanic,hedonistic or with every nasty and smelly word which in actual context does not make any sense or have any substance...

  23. Nasheed allowed his close MDP friends to become millionaires in a very short period of time. This article overlooks this. An article by an unashamedly MDP member for the reading pleasure of the like minded.

  24. The comments that followed against my comment shows the mentality of people who refuse to accept that MDP elite groups have done any wrong in the three years they were in power. I was never comparing who is better at oligarchy and I never disagreed with the authors valid calls to bring an end to oligarchy and all that. You cannot deny that Nasheed did give positions to his family and friends. It wasn’t only him but the others like Mariya Didi and co. I only added more to what she wrote as she clearly chose not to write about the MDP oligarchic networks developing over the past three years. Why is it so hard for people to accept that there were many mistakes made by MDP and Nasheed and digest them when someone mentions it? If MDP can claim all the good that came out in the three years, then they (MDP and supporters) should accept all the bad that came out as well. Corruption is not only an MDP problem but I can only judge them based on what I’ve seen over the past three years, the same way everyone is judging Gayoom over his 30 year rule. I am not saying Gayoom is a hero either. I voted for Nasheed and he disappointed me and a lot of other people. I condemn the coup and police brutality but that does not make MDP’s oligarchic trends any less. Again Nasheed is no Rosa Parks etc. because these people had principles and they followed through their principles. Much to my disappointment Nasheed didn’t.

  25. In the light of the Arab Spring over the course of the past year throughout the Middle East (as well as what is still happening in Syria), Latheefa Ahmed's powerful and moving article should serve as a warning to the corrupt practices of governments everywhere. Winston Churchill once said something to the effect that democracy is the worst system of government - apart from all the others. In other words there is no such thing as a perfect authority structure. Authority by its own definition entails some exercise of power, and power by its very nature is open to corruption. Human nature itself is flawed by self-interest and it would be naive to suggest that altruism would prevail in every decision made by a democratic government. However, what democracy does do is to strive for an equitable rule of law under which it is accountable to the people who have elected it to power, and bestows on them rights of expression without fear of reprisals. Fathima Shiuza seems to be asserting that maladministative practices of the past are some sort of justification for abandoning any notion of striving for democracy and social equity. One can only assume that such an individual is in some way benefiting from the elitist cronyism of this corrupt regime. There is no excuse for suppression of these basic human freedoms by the government of Maldives. Those who are too blinded by their avarice to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Hold a seance and ask the ghost of Gaddafi!

  26. Robert MacKenzie, please stop assuming things about me just because you can't accept the obvious reality of corruption and malpractices in the Maldives. Show me one line in my comments where I said it was OK to crush our democracy because of the past malpractices? You are one of those supporters that are ruining the image of MDP and their democratic calls because of your intolerance of criticism and quick assumptions about what others.

  27. @ Robert MacKenzie

    You state "Fathima Shiuza seems to be asserting that maladministative practices of the past are some sort of justification for abandoning any notion of striving for democracy and social equity."

    I don't think this is right at all. Shiuza is suggesting that the coup is not a justification for the corruption which occurred under Nasheed's rule. Shiuza is pretty clear in her statement that the curtailment of democracy was a bad thing, but there is the potential for all the problems associated with Nasheed to be forgotten because he has been unjustly removed from power.

    The backstory of why the coup took place is what is so violently splitting the Maldivian population. MDP see the backstory as being the rebirth of Gayoom, others see it as being the unconstitutional practices of Nasheed. I believe what Shiuza is trying to do in some way is to balance the initial article out to cover both sides (of which no one knows which is 'true', if either can ever be considered 'true' in a meaningful sense), not to condone the coup or to support the previous authoritarian rule of Gayoom.

    I've said it before, but we need a new political generation in the Maldives which doesn't constantly see evil shadows in every opposing viewpoint and who can move Maldivian politics beyond the personal-politics and self-serving politics we have seen in the past. That's not to say all the current politicians are like this, but it's certainly been a feature of many in the past on all sides. I have faith that these people exist, it's just a matter of developing the system so that it supports these people as best it can. That's the really hard thing to do in Maldivian politics!

  28. @ Shiuza,

    Oh quit being a such Ms. Goody two shoes, Robert Mackenzie may have made a mistake of assuming you are a rational person.

    It is pretty clear in your disappointment with MDP you are one of those people who says, "I supported Anni before, but....." Which is frankly very tiring.

    Democracy does not solve all problems in a society in 3 years, it takes many election cycles. Even then your pathetic life will only improve if you work for it, govt is responsible to provide infrastructure, law and order etc.

    You keep talking about Mandela. You would be disappointed if MDP was as ill effective as Mandelas ANC was. The ANC was and is not corruption free. In fact the Apartheid regime was a much better administration, technically speaking.

    If you were South African and hypothetically there was a coup there and you read an article. Would you comment complaining that it was unfair to focus only on the usurpers of power and not on the failures of ANC? Which is exactly what you are doing now.

    Think a little. We are not discussing which party in better or whether MDP was corrupt or not. We are discussing the future system of government.

    I wholly agree with what you said about MDP. But whatever their failures, Anni and the MDP brought us to the position where you and I can freely debate politics. This only the beginning of democracy. The tree is planted, a will soon bear fruits if we are patient. Anni or MDP will not deliver us to where we want to go- we must do that ourselves. Right now the choice is the previous dictator and cronies or MDP. You are free to choose, but via a vote.

    This is the beginning, if MDP does not fulfill their pledges and loses support if the people. They should be removed from power by the voters. After one or two election cycles and there has been a peaceful transfer of office, politicians will begin to realize that the only way to retain power is to serve the people.

    That is how good governance has evolved in mature democracies. They were not praying fro Mandelas and Lee Kwan Yews. They elected their representatives and punished them in the voting booth depending on their performance.

    By accepting a coup we are only sending a message to every power hungry bandit that there is a shortcut to power.

  29. @peasant
    Not sure why you are going on about Mandela. I never talked about Mandela.So me expressing my views makes me is irrational - tells much about yourself and how much you are able to engage in discussion. The article is about oligarchy in the Maldives and that is where I have contributed through my comment. Not sure why you are going on about everything else you've written in relation to what I have said. Though I totally agree with what you have said about election cycles and the need for democracy to be back in the country.

  30. @peasant

    I agree with much of what you say in the latter part of your comment, but comparing the Maldives to South Africa is somewhat misleading.

    I don't believe this is the case, but you *could* just as easily compare the Maldives to Syria. I'm not saying this is a rational comparison, but the Maldives pre-Nasheed was not the same as South Africa under apartheid.

    No one in Syria is arguing that the removal of Assad would be 'undemocratic', instead they are focussing on why Assad should be removed.

    I don't know (and I don't think anyone on here really knows) the full story of why Nasheed was removed from power, but I don't believe it was purely down to some dark powers behind the scenes, or an 'unholy alliance', as Latheefa puts it. That's not to say Nasheed should be compared to Assad, but equally I'm not sure you should seek to compare him to Mandela either.


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