Comment: Speak freely, Dr Waheed

I write this letter with the passion of one who has not heard enough from the man who holds the second leading position in the government of the Maldives.

As Dr. Waheed says, “It is [high] time to get rid of that fear of speaking out.”

This is a new freedom we have as a nation that is clearly not being utilised enough.

This letter begins my own attempt to follow his example. This letter is also a plea that he continue to speak publicly, namely about the recent injustice to the Minister of Trade and Economic Development of the Maldives.

The government’s administration of injustice on Rasheed due to the call for freedom of speech led by Dr Waheed is discrimination. There was no reason given for Rasheed’s dismissal. I urge Dr Waheed to speak freely on what is going on in our government.

Dr Waheed brings up a grave concern. The gravity of the situation can clearly be seen now, as we know that even a Minister holds no safety in his position. Is this not just another autocratic government that does as it pleases with the power it holds? Who was involved in Rasheed’s firing?

Yet Dr Waheed is hopeful. He says in a recent article, “there is ‘nothing that can’t be fixed'”, as the government “is going through a learning process.”

Despite the hindrance on his job, he says, “I don’t see why we should be hiding our feelings now. We did not bring about this change to work in despair.”

In my view this is a man of courage and integrity. He is clearly working for the people. He speaks his mind and faces in the process public scrutiny and even ridicule. In my opinion, he needs to do more of this. If the government is not hearing your advice, tell it to us, the public. Continue the open line of communication you have started by beginning to voice your concerns.

If you are for the people, Allah’s power is with you. We did witness a miracle when we elected our current government into power, but the abuse of power can never reign without the intervention of Allah’s force. Dr. Waheed has not responded publicly to Rasheed’s loss at the hands of the government.

Please do not be silent for the sake of avoiding confrontation. Sometimes, difficult things need to be voiced, as you have suggested. Anything can be said in the spirit of compassion. Allah shows us this. This must be what is meant by freedom of speech.

As far as the claim that he is angling for the presidential seat in the next election, how is this even relevant to the concerns of governance of the people now, and the obvious unrest in the current government? As a self respecting citizen, I will not buy into this line of inquiry nor comment on what I think the VP is going to do, or is trying to do.

The question we should be more concerned with revolves around the unclear governance of our nation now, the very question Dr Waheed points us towards. The tyranny of the government has gone too far. The Vice President is being left in the dark. A minister has been fired for no reason. How can the people feel safe and secure under such a government?

Power is a dangerous mechanism and can be used too easily for harm. Dr Waheed speaks the truth that it should never be in the hands of a few. This always leads to the subjugation of others, just look at the history of governance of every nation in the world.

As a side note, when a voice of governance speaks publicly in any nation, he or she is speaking in his or her role, the role that this individual was elected into, especially if s/he makes it clear that s/he is speaking from this capacity! May Dr Waheed use his power for the benefit of the people. Speak to us, for us.

Dr. Waheed played a lead role in the reconstruction of a war torn country, Afghanistan, where he led an organisation of 250 Afghans and an international staff from 20 different countries. His early biography is brief, but mentioned he came from a low income family, and we all know what a low income family in Male was like in the early 1950’s.

Regardless of how he is able to serve us as a country, in my mind, this man has earned our respect for his very impressive track record abroad. As much I am giving Dr Waheed the benefit of doubt, I also think he needs to step up, and be more vocal about policies he would implement and the injustice being conducted by the government he is a part of. If you are working for the people Dr. Waheed, be the voice that gives us the power of information. Give the power that is being taken from us, back to us, where it belongs.

We as a country cannot forget the past that we come from. This man represents that past. If we are to move forward into the future with dignity and continued growth, we have to face the suffering of our past in unity, as well as the suffering we face today though of a very different form than it was only a few years prior.

I plead our honorable president to take heed of the words of a man who should be his best, his right hand man. Having read of Dr Waheed’s accomplishments abroad, I feel eager for some of this good work at home.

May Dr. Waheed continue the process of speaking his mind that he has only just begun. I challenge him to be even more transparent. What is the point of bringing his dissatisfaction to the public if he will not continue that process through, and keep us informed as to what he feels our country needs, as well as what is happening behind the curtains of the powers that be? You have the chance Dr Waheed, to use the power of words for our benefit.

Finally, as a Maldivian woman, I have been disappointed with the slow pace of progression when it comes to women’s rights and leadership. What does it take to right a patriarchal system that finds roots in the entrenched world patriarchal culture that we still live in?

I would like the women in power to speak to these issues. I implore the women in power to do so. For such an educated man as Dr Waheed, I find myself questioning how far he would go to uphold the rights of the people in this country, so many of whom are women.

This is a very high standard that I hold him to above others of his standing because of his background and experience. The task of reconstructing our patriarchal system is one I would like to see someone with power in our government tackle. When we look at the history of subjugation of women, we see how subtle and how permeable is the assault inflicted by those that hold power.

Every major power in the world that has found great success has not been able to do so without its women empowered to hold their own on equal footing with men, and add their wisdom to the process of growth.

Women have been given positions of power in the Maldives, but we are underrepresented and so our voices cannot be heard loudly enough. As a feminist, I am extremely sensitive to the power differentials among the sexes. Perhaps the task of addressing this issue in my country is one that I as an educated woman need to begin to tackle for myself. Perhaps I need to take my own advice around using the power of words and freedom of speech, being that I have it.

What I have learned as a feminist is that we each cannot hold anyone but ourselves responsible for speaking to the suffering in our own hearts. May the might of words bring power of justice back to the people where it belongs. May this letter be a start for me, in the name of our most Merciful and Compassionate.

With Best Intentions,

Mirani Bhava

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13 thoughts on “Comment: Speak freely, Dr Waheed”

  1. Dr Waheed, I feel sorry to say this but you are serving another dictator [Nasheed] like Qayyoom. You are supposed to stay mouth zipped,specially when you are within the governemnt. Sice Nasheed became president, we have all lost the freedom of speech and expression which we had during the later days of Qayyoom. You might be in trouble if you speak more. The example been sacking of your party minister recently. I wish you became the president of Maldives, not him.

  2. you are talking about the Maldivian government here lead by President Nasheed. In a presidential system, if you are a cabinet member, all differences in opinion should be sorted out in cabinet meetings. Not in press conferences and on media. President Nasheed is responsible for running the country and implementing MDP manifesto. He is not there to please each and every mistier or the vice president. If he feels, a certain cabinet minister does not perform or is discrediting the government in a way public loose trust, it his his responsibility to fire that minister, because in a presidential system, the president holds ultimate responsibility for success or failure to deliver. I feel the comment is very one sided or promoting a particular person.

  3. Baazu,

    Mohamed Rasheed - The former Minister for Economic Development and Trade - was not fired for incompetence. The Presidential Press Statement says as much. Rasheed has also since then come out and said that he will defend everything that this Government does right and that neither him, nor GIP is against this government.

    The fact is that GIP and MDP have an agreement that our Vice President will be consulted on ALL matters relating to the National wellbeing. Considering the fact that he has more development experience than any other Maldivian alive, this was not an inappropriate agreement.

    If this government fails, then the people will see it as GIP's failure as well - and it is for this reason that we were supposed to have some kind of say in how the Manifesto was enacted. GIP is committed to the development framework which we campaigned for. And the manifesto is an MDP ITTHIAAD Manifesto. Not just MDP. It is a GIP, MDP Manifesto.

    This rift between MDP and GIP is not appropriate. No one should be forced to silence, and constructive criticism should not be summarily dismissed. Thus far GIP has remained committed to our campaign pledges.

    What grievances was there was aired in private on more than one occasion and was only aired in the public as a last resort. We remain committed to this government, though there is only so many times that one's voice could be ignored before the need to speak out overwhelms you.

  4. its very obvious this is written by a supporter or family member of Dr.Waheed. Or may be himself?

  5. what is the problem now? I think salim has expressed why waheed is criticizing the government. because waheed feels that this government will be a failure so he wants to show the public that he is not part of it. I think being in the government waheed and his associates are making life difficult for the government which they should not be doing anymore. I am sure waheed will not be given the another chance to be the VP of this country by any other party (DRP) in the next election so be positive and work to make the govrenment a success. waheed, from the way you behave, neither you nor your associates will benefit.

  6. Dr.Waheed, Ex Trade Minister Mohamed Rasheed and Ilyas Hussain (Waheed's brother in "low") wants to run the government like Gayoom did with all fame and public money sent on them for their luxurious power show off life style. And these three hate Anni and doesn't believe Anni could be a better president than Dr.Waheed.
    Let me tell you Dr.Waheed, You have no no political strenght and wisdom (as you are more control by your wife family and your UN lazy friends like Rasheed) to rule this country at this juncture! Even Gasim Ibrahim would be better than you. Atleast he would work hard and be decisive! Dr.Waheed your party is a failure!! Goodbye from politics!

  7. Fair enough - Waheed is not entirely happy with the way govt is being run. Its alright to have disputes - there will of course be disputes within the Government. But, its a problem when the sitting Vice President in public begins to outrightly criticize the Government and especially directly criticize the President in a way that discredits him - particularly the comments on President not consulting the Vice President on matters of national well-being.

    I think at a time when everyone is under so much pressure, Vice Presidents remarks have not relieved the pressure and infact it has affected the democratic process - affects peoples confidence in this 'democracy' concept ...we dont want people to relate democracy to internal political turmoil or relate it to failures - that would be our worst nightmare - this whole thing can any day be highjacked by the very own people whom we despite. Patience is needed - The government was elected for a five year term - and the Vice President and the people shall give the Government its five years to deliver and clean this mess up. Such things as remarks from the VP only derails us from the cause.

  8. "... Considering the fact that he has more development experience than any other Maldivian alive ..."

    Jeffrey Waheed, that is the biggest pile of tuna dung I have ever heard in a very long time. The man did nothing worthwhile while he was given several senior positions whilst within the SAsia region at the UN.

    He's just a lot of mouth and no real action. We are again seeing this now. He was given a really appropriate nickname for a reason. You may be his son, but you know this to be true too!

  9. Today the President does whatever he wants, the Vice President does whatever he can and the rest of the country does whatever it pleases. So no wonder the country is in total chaos. Bravo Nasheed's presidency!

  10. The author of this piece is clearly divorced from reality.

    Rasheed's dismissal, far from being an "injustice", was actually a long overdue move to remove a minister not able to produce results at MED.

    Of course, the VPs decision to shun collective responsibility and attack the government at a time of rising pressure from the opposition, probably presented the President with a good opportunity to remove this obstacle to reform.

    To ask how people can feel safe and secure under a government that sacks ministers strikes me as a very strange way of judging people's security- they are probably more concerned about getting stabbed by those kids who hang out a bit further down the road.

    I accept that this polemic has been penned with the purest of intentions. But, in my mind, it is simply not credible.

    Having said that, the digression at the end about the importance of women's empowerment is very interesting and I support the sentiments expressed.

    Perhaps the Vice President should take this issue on and get actively involved in promoting women's rights?

  11. @Azeez

    See how deceptive you people are to cloak all your blunders when the ball is with MDP. Do you know a term called "accountability" and how important it is in the concept of democracy. It is the responsibility of all its citizen and the political parties to make any incumbent government accoutable to all its action.

    If we remain silent similar to the way that we have been in the last 30 years, it would be a retrogressive move and we would be giving a slap for those who fought to bring this change to this beautiful nation. It was a handful of Maldivian, and not just ONLY NASHEED, who initiated the reform process. Maldives have intelligent citizens and people who can work under any immense pressure. Maldivians derserve better standard of life and better future and for that to happen we all need to clasp our hands and that reminds me of that beautiful quote of Obama;

    “We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it’s easy, but when it is hard".

    BARACK OBAMA, Nobel Lecture, Dec. 10, 2009

  12. I cannot understand the Maldivian thirst for the messiah figure. A simple survey of Maldivian personages would reveal the various narratives that turn seemingly ordinary people into Christ-like figures. Maumoon Gayoom as the brilliant all-rounder (myth-making at it's best). Dr Waheed as the most educated and experienced man (a tall claim ). Pres. Nasheed as the father of democracy (there was more than one person). Dr Shaheed as the evil genius. Simply put, the king has changed but the desire for the kingdom(be it Gayoom, Waheed, Anni, Hassan Saeed or whoever else as King) has remained constant. All political fights in this country owe their existence to competing versions of who this glorious leader should be. It's rarely about principles or ideology. However, if democracy in this country is to make a name for itself, then we ought to rid ourselves of this unhealthy obsession with the "superhuman" who will deliver the people unto salvation, prosperity and eventually, paradise. It's just silly. Very very silly.

  13. @ Kim Philby - what you have said is so true. We need to understand what democracy is and stop glorifying people. The more we continue to do so, the longer we enable opportunists to lord it over us be it in parties, majlis or government. Democracy is ideally about the will of the people, however, if a populace feels or is made to feel that a select few 'know better', just by virtue of being born into a certain family or opportunities in life, where are we headed? For me, it was disturbing to watch the meeting of the Qaumee Iththihaad where everyone stood up when the Vice President stood up, and then booed and abused other speakers for stating their views about not calling for the government's resignation. Is this the system we want to continue in this country? Is this what respect and tolerance is? Is this what democracy and liberal values are about? We seriously need to start thinking about these issues as a nation if we want to reach that other shore we talk about.


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