Comment: Open letter to Ruder Finn

The following open letter was sent by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Eva Abdulla, also a member of the IPU’s Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians, to Emmanuel Tchividjian, Senior Vice President and Ethics Officer at US public relations firm Ruder Finn. The company recently won a three-month contract to represent the Maldivian government.

Dear Mr Tchividjian,

On 7th February 2012, elements of the police and army loyal to the former autocratic leader of the Maldives, Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, threatened the democratically-elected President of the country, H.E. Mr. Mohamed Nasheed, his family and his supporters with physical harm unless he resigned by a certain time that day. Those elements of the police and army then escorted President Nasheed to the President’s Office and stood over him as he wrote a ‘resignation’ letter, while others forcibly took control of the country’s main television station. A new Government has since been constituted, dominated by allies of former President Gayoom – even though the country clearly rejected him and his thirty-year dictatorship through the ballot box in the 2008 presidential election.

As a member of the governing council and the Women’s Wing of the Maldivian Democratic Party, and an elected representative, I am therefore writing to express our surprise and disappointment that Ruder Finn decided to tender for and sign a contract with this clearly undemocratic and illegitimate government, a contract under which you will be asked to act as public apologist and public advocate.

We note that you claim to be Ruder Finn’s ‘Ethics’ Officer and that you once argued in an interview that “ethics is essentially an issue of values”. We put it to you however that both you and Ruder Finn, by accepting this contract, have demonstrated a complete lack of both values and ethics.

You justify your decision on ‘ethical’ grounds by saying that you have studied the “complex political situation” and have concluded that the current government is legitimate according to the country’s constitution but that if the National Commission of Inquiry determines that the government came to power illegally you will resign the contract. This position is so riddled with contradictions that it is difficult not to conclude that your ‘ethical’ analysis is nothing more than a fig leaf disguising a policy of ‘profit-at-any-cost’.

How can Ruder Finn have determined that the government is constitutional and legitimate when the national mechanism established to answer that very question, the NCI, has not yet presented its findings? Do you have the power of foresight?

Having already prejudged the conclusions of the NCI, you then claim Ruder Finn will resign the contract if the NCI demonstrates foul play. And yet if you had indeed “closely examined” the complex situation you would know that the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the Maldives’ largest political party – the MDP, and the country’s civil society have all stated that the NCI, chaired by President Gayoom’s former Minister of Defence, is neither independent nor credible.

Also in interview, you have argued that “the starting point of using one’s values to make an ethical choice is, one would presume, to have a clear and accurate understanding of the facts”. If this is the case, one wonders which facts you are basing your ethical choices on. You are the only organisation outside the Maldives, which has already decided that the current government is legitimate. Both the Commonwealth and the European Union, the two organisations most closely following events in the Maldives have both said the opposite – that there are clear questions marks over the legitimacy of this government and it can only demonstrate its legitimacy through an independent and impartial national commission of inquiry, and through early elections. Does Ruder Finn have a political analysis capability greater than that of the Commonwealth and the EU?

Which brings me to perhaps the most damning indictment of your company and your claim to conduct “ethical public relations” – that in your public statements on this issue you have knowingly issued untruths and sought to mislead. You claim in your interview with the Holmes Report on 27th April that “accusations of a coup have been dismissed from many international organizations and governments, including the United Kingdom government who has said that they do not recognize the transfer of power in the Maldives to be a coup”. Yet this is a clear misrepresentation of the position of the UK and the European Union, both of which have consistently made clear that there are serious questions about the legitimacy of this government and thus (taken from a Declaration by Baroness Catherine Ashton on behalf of the European Union on 22nd February 2012 ): “The EU is of the view that the legitimacy and legality of the transfer of presidential power in the Maldives should be determined by an impartial, independent investigation as agreed by all parties in the Maldives”. Both the EU and the Commonwealth – which is working in close cooperation with the United Nations on this issue – have also clearly said that in the medium-term legitimacy can only be conferred through a popular vote expressed through early elections in 2012.

Thus one can only conclude that, if ethical public relations is indeed a case of having a clear and accurate understanding of the facts, and then applying one’s values, it would seem that Ruder Finn practices a deeply unethical form of public relations because you lack a clear grasp of the facts, and, it would seem, have no values beyond a wish to make money.

On this point, it has been reported that your contract with the current government is worth almost $150,000 a month ($1,800,000 or Maldivian Rufiyaa 28 million annually). To provide you with some “clear and accurate facts.” If in the Maldives:

  • N. Milandhoo sewerage project = 29.9 million MRF
  • N. Magoodhoo harbour project = 18.8 million MRF
  • One government built housing unit in Ga. Kolamaafushi = 1 million MRF
  • Aasandha health insurance premium per person = 2650 MRF

The Ruder Finn contract, per annum, with the current Maldivian regime is then equivalent to:

  • A sewerage project
  • A harbour project
  • 28 government built housing units,
  • Aasandha health insurance premium for 10,473 citizens (the same health insurance scheme the current regime has announced scaling back, claiming lack of funds).

I invite you to apply your ‘values’ to these facts and to reach an ‘ethical’ conclusion.

Finally, I would like to remind you that while you are fortunate, in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom to enjoy stable democracies which allow for the full enjoyment of human rights, with those rights come certain duties and responsibilities. Among those duties, I would hope, is to use your freedoms to promote the rights of other people in other countries and not knowingly work towards the suppression of those rights. President Gayoom presided over extrajudicial killings in our jails, and over hundreds of documented cases of torture. Since the overthrow of President Nasheed, cases of Police brutality have again begun to resurface – including against Members of Parliament (cases have been lodged with the Inter-Parliamentary Union), as have cases of State-sponsored sexual and gender-based violence against women, arbitrary detention and police brutality. Ruder Finn has now unwittingly made itself a vehicle through which he and his associates are defying the democratic right of people in the Maldives to choose their government and are instead reasserting the old autocracy.

If you continue down this path, then you will be party to one of the greatest injustices ever inflicted on the people of the Maldives. It is difficult to understand how Ruder Finn or you personally would be able to call such a choice “ethical”. We also wonder whether your corporate clients, such as Israeli Airline El Al (which Members of Parliament of the current regime voted to ban from landing in the Maldives) Reuters, Acca, Lexus, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Ricoh, Michelin, Four Seasons, Johnson & Johnson, Manpower, would be able to understand.

Yours sincerely,

Eva Abdulla

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27 thoughts on “Comment: Open letter to Ruder Finn”

  1. and to add to this, Eva is from Nasheed's family... We will not bring kenery family to power again..

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  2. "How can Ruder Finn have determined that the government is constitutional and legitimate when the national mechanism established to answer that very question, the NCI, has not yet presented its findings? Do you have the power of foresight?"

    How can EVA ABDULLAH have determined that the government is unconstitutional and illegitimate when the national mechanism established to answer that very question, the NCI, has not yet presented its findings?
    Do you have the power of foresight?

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  3. Aha! Now Eva and MDP robots getting scared that their deceptive narrative will be uncovered by real pro's soon. But why scared? Why scared if you are not hiding the truth?

    The truth is very clear. Waheed is a simple quiet unassuming vp untill the moment Anni resigned and he took over as is written in the law. There was no coup and there was no planning. Whatever Anni did, he did it for himself. He is the biggest enemy of MDP and himself. period.

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  4. I condemn any attempt by the current regime to whitewash the coup. We have seen the regime using extremist elements in the country to gain support and using the judiciary to force out elected members who oppose the coup from parliament.
    I condemn Ruder Finn for accepting to aid the regime in their unjust cause.

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  5. These PR firms care only about one thing - it is money, money, yes sir, yes sir.

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  6. Excellent.
    Ruder Finn may consider itself to be a more credible "authority" in possession of the "facts" about the (illegal, uncivilized and undemocratic) transfer of power in the Maldives, than the Commonwealth or the EU. Their unsubstantiated drivel only confirms their utter lack of competence and credibility.

    And when PR firms of this quality talk about having ethics and values, one knows they are devoid of any moral substance. No self-respecting organisation claiming to support democracy would engage in glossing over the coup d'état in the Maldives, because it is wholly against all democratic values, principles and most importantly, the people of the Maldives and the country's Constitution.

    Well said Ms Eva Abdulla.
    As a Maldivian citizen, I support every point you have raised here, wholeheartedly. Thank you.

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  7. Eva, you send nice letter to Ruder Finn now but you shout in Maldives filth at this company.
    C'monwealth also calls for inquiry to determine whether power transfer legal BUT at the same time calling for elections before the Inquiry outcome. Does C'mnWlth know outcome in advance?

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  8. Does the parliament members know how much their salaries add up to when most of the time they are on protest and holiday

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  9. Well argued and honest. Ruder Finn should be ashamed at rushing in. This is a young democracy being spat out by the old brutal police dictatorship.

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  10. @Ruder and Finn
    Remember, where they don't use the vote to elect governments, they use guns! One or the other, period!
    You shold be helping democracy not a violent police dictatorship. This current regime is evil and selfish.

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  11. Well said Eva. All of us Maldivians in our hearts know the truth. 7th February was a dirty coup in our history. And just don't bother if some paid commentators have their hearts at the feet of a dictator & criticise you. Keep it up.

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  12. We also spent MRF57288000 per annum on a bunch of idiots who doesnt have a clue about lawmaking and dont give a rat's ass about the people who elected them. Thats equivalent to the aasandha insurance premium for 21618 people

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  13. Eva's biasness is evident when she referred to former president Maumoon as Mr. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and at the same time referred to the former president Nasheed as H.E. Mr. Mohamed Nasheed.
    This kind of degrading actions further expose the real evil and vulgar nature of MDP thugs - in this case Eva, a cousin of Nasheed.

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  14. Well said. RF must withdraw their contract to whitewash the coup in the Maldives. Fact being, those who are in govt are not elected. The only solution to this is a free and fair election. No rudder Finn, no hill and knowlton can do anything about what has happened. We did have PR firms before, but what happened in 2008?

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  15. MDP parliamentary members accused Ruder finn as an anti-Islamic organization that supports Zionist's on Raajje TV two days back, and all of a sudden Eva (a member of the same parliamentary group) is writing a letter to the same company? TWO FACED MUCH?

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  16. Can any find the live coverage of VTV.
    Carefully watch how Ibrahim Nasir International Airport under the control of coup leader ship was announced. Watch the impressions and read the presenter carefully. That was before resignation of so called laa dheenee prez.

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  17. pro-regime bots seems very active!

    anyhow.. the only international team who came to Maldives to probe into the events are saying to have an election within 2012. To me it is clear sign that they see something wrong and the only way to make it correct is by ballot box.

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  18. Female literacy is an abomination, as they are incapable of employing such skills to a sagacious purpose.

    The woman who advocates on behalf of the MalDeviant Democratic Party is herself, a deviant.

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  19. May I also invite MP Eva Abdulla to apply your ‘values’ to these facts and to reach an ‘ethical’ conclusion apply the same standards to the work of PR firm Hill and Knowlton, who also worked with MDP.

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  20. Dear Rafiqul Alam,

    Why Eva and many other Maldivians know that Waheed is siting on the Presidential Chair as a result of Police & MNDF Mutiny which many Maldivians watched live on the National TV channel plus VTV...

    If this is not an illegal government because of the reason that the illegal leader appointed or formulated Inquiry Commission has not told us it's an illegal government, I believe you are not feeling well and you must consult a doctor without any delay

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  21. Maashaa Allah!
    It is the likes of Eva Abdhullah who will save nations out of difficult times like this!
    Alh'amdhulillah!
    Eva! You truly must be an angel in disguise like the ones some keerithi, moorithi ahammaidhees saw on 7th February 2012 at Jumhooree Maidhaan carrying weapons from heaven!
    Eva! Maashaa Allah! You truly must be having a holy brain!
    Alh'amdhulillah!

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  22. Eva is a disgrace to the Maldives. She is twisting the events to serve her own argument.

    Who decided that it is a coupe? No one who came to Maldives to explore and investigate the situation have yet concluded that it is a coup. Who is Eva to decide that it is a coup by herself?

    I am sure that Rudder Finn is more aware of the situation than Eva have ever thought.

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  23. wonder why is Dhivehi Hijab freaking out? One feels so naked and helpless when religious heresay and foreign influence is removed from the equation!

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  24. *I meant: No one who came to Maldives to explore and investigate the situation have not yet concluded that it is a coup.

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  25. @Shujau: If you think those who support the current regime of the Maldives are "pro regime bots", what are you? A pro-cult bot? I bet yes.

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