Comment: Where do you draw the line?

Where does one draw the line?

In a referendum held on August 18, 2007, 60 percent of the people of the Maldives overwhelmingly decided on a Presidential system of government.

In 2008 a new Constitution came into force, taking into consideration the doctrine of the separation of powers and incorporating the ideas of checks and balances.

The executive branch separated from the legislative, and the judiciary began working independently. The Constitution is clear about the extent of the powers of each entity, the demarcations clearly drawn.

The powers and duties of the President, elected directly by the people, are clearly defined by the Constitution. There is a clear demarcation line drawn between the two spheres of influence: the legislative branch and the executive. It allows the separate powers to act independently while understanding the need for co-operation between these entities.

The legislature, staffed by members directly elected by the people, is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend and repeal laws. Article 5 of the Constitution vests the Peoples’ Majlis with all the power to enact necessary legislation.

In addition, the legislature has the authority to pass bills related to the lowering or raising of taxes, adopting the national budget and related money bills.

The executive branch is unipersonal, meaning that all executive power lies with the President. Members of the Cabinet are appointed by the President, held legally responsible, and are expected to implement the policies of the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches of the government. It is the President’s prerogative under the Presidential system to direct members of the Cabinet, the military or any officer or employees of the executive branch.

The President’s power, however, does not extend into the domain of the judiciary: he generally has no power to dismiss or pass orders to judges.

The fact that a Presidential system seperates the executive from the legislature is sometimes held up as an advantage, in that each branch may scrutinize the actions of the other.

The question we are grappling with here is whether the legislature has the power under the Constitution to announce for applicants, interview, shortlist and hire members into State institutions.

While the Presidential system empowers legislative approval of Presidential nominations to the Cabinet as well as various other government posts such as judges and members of independent commissions, it does not allow the legislature to encroach into this sphere of influence that is specifically the domain of executive power.

A clear line has to be drawn between nomination and appointment of members of state institutions within the executive domain and approval and accountability which is the prerogative of the legislature.

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8 thoughts on “Comment: Where do you draw the line?”

  1. The system of government we voted for is set out in our constitution. If the constitution allows the legislature to "announce for applicants, interview, shortlist and hire members into State institutions", then the legislature has the the power to do that. If the constitution is not clear about it I guess we have to leave it up to supreme court to decide.

  2. There are no clear lines or demarcations. Just useless stuff written on paper that most Maldivian do not understand and do not care about.

    A Presidential system was decided on following indications from the referendum that the opposition movement had enough support to secure a Presidential election.

    However, mines were placed within the Constitutional setup in order to disrupt the workings of the State if Maumoon were to win the Presidential election. Each mine is now being stepped on by the MDP following its election victory.

    It was never so much the system of governance that was at dispute but rather the people who would be in power.

  3. The Maldivian society as a whole (like many other unsophisticated cultures) do not follow the law out of respect and reason to decency, dignity and integrity to high moral standards of our way of life. They merely obey authorities and that is out of fear - to avoid the punishments of being caught doing the wrong thing. This is at a very low level of cognitive moral development and you have to question if the society is really ready to debate highly sophisticated concepts such as constitution and separation of powers.

  4. I guess the Executive can ask Supreme Court to draw the line.

  5. @Hassan K: I am deeply greatful that you wrote this. Thankyou Brother. Indeed we must aspire to be moral and encourage other's to aspire towards this goal for the right reasons. That is damn hard word in a society which rarely thanks you for your efforts when you try to do be moral.

    Hassan K, to be moral, you have to be fuelled by the pain of caring, it has to hurt so much when you see needless, innocent suffering, that not only are you driven to compassion, (to suffer with and for a person or a people) but you have to be able to hurt enough to embrace struggle, because you will be struggling against the grain. You have to hurt so much that you get tough, but you have to keep feeling the pain, as the pain is your DRIVE to keep aspiring towards morality.

    People say, 'be good,' 'be loving' as though it was some airy fairy, easy thing to do, but it is more than a philosophy brother.

    Spend the next few weeks striving to do good, speak kindly to people, and standing up against injustice, even if it makes you look like a fool. People will become jealous of you and hurt you so much that you will be filled with the temptation to be selfish in spite, and it will TAKE fear to stop you from being a badass...UNLESS!!!

    Unless you understand and can embrace the kind of pain, rejection, alienation, social ostracisation it takes to be a truly moral person in this world.

    Just in case you had not noticed, we live in a world which most often rewards immorality, lies, displays of bravado which inimidate others and is therefore dehumanizing and immoral. If you are going to be moral, you will be there speaking out against greed, injustice, oppression, because that is moral, and you are going to be alienated and ridiculed by your loved ones, lose your job, be sleeping on hammocks at Vilinghilli with the drug addicts because you will be homeless.

    When dawn paryer comes, you can go the Mosque and pray, and when the Imam and the Qu'ran reciters leave, fall alseep there if you want a few hours safe sleep. Thats what I did a few times in Maldives.

    You have to do more than know moral philosophy to be moral, brother, you have to be tough as steal yet still able to hurt when there is injustice or suffering.

    In New York, there was a few minute blackout and there were so many rapes, break in's in that time, see -"civilisation" and "a sophisticated culture" is as thin as your fingernail. Not just Maldives, but the world is driven by fear and aggression, and it takes a very special few to break out of being that way.

  6. Oh, and, for a 'separation of powers" to work to secure liberty, equality, justice, enough people in each branch of Government have to fit HassanK's vision of a moral person, because, if the people are not morally fit, the society will be unjust no matter how advanced the legal constitutional arrangements are. By itself, a written constitution is just a few words on a bit of paper. It has no power to enforce itself, the ink can't leap up from the page and spray dictators in the face and the page is not going to leap into a fire and leap onto a crooked parliamentarian when he attempts to bribe a judge. The meaning of the constitution and it's spirit has to be culturally internalized for it to work, for people to uphold it.

    There used to be a big colourful grafitti murial on - Majeedi Magu??? (I think) towards Artificial beach which read, "Be The Change You wanna see!" (a quote from Gandhi) Every Maldivian must have seen it but seemingly only a few ppl ever READ IT!

  7. The Constitution should have been written in such way that even the people who are not morally fit, should not be able to abuse the powers. Our Constitution framers have tried to reinvent the wheel, not fullyt incorporating some of the fundamentals of the Presidential system such upper house, mid-term election for the Legislature. Its not a round wheel.


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