The government has proposed scrapping a provision in a 1976 law that allows the president to banish or place under house arrest persons who evade mandatory national service after completing state-funded training or education at public schools.
Presenting the amendment bill (Dhivehi) on behalf of the government at today’s sitting of parliament, Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Abdulla Rifau said the provision contravened article 55 of the constitution, which states, “No person shall be imprisoned on the ground of non-fulfilment of a contractual obligation.”
Rifau also noted that according to article 16(a) of the constitution, fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by chapter two could only be restricted or limited to any extent “only if demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.”
In the ensuing debate, PPM MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed argued that abolishing the provision would be a “cosmetic change” as it had become null and void with enactment of the new constitution in August 2008.
Advising a broader debate on national service, Nasheed noted that 80 percent of workers was employed by the government and 20 percent by the private sector when the law was passed in 1976 while the reverse was true at present.
“Our ground reality has changed while this law was on the books,” he said.
In 2013, Nasheed added, 7,623 students completed O’ Levels, out of which 3,123 students (43 percent) was eligible for A’ Levels after passing five subjects.
The number of students who completed A’ Levels in 2013 was meanwhile 1,725, he noted, of which 1,294 students (75 percent) was eligible to pursue higher education or bachelors degree.
While students who completed O’ Levels 40 years ago were forced to serve the government regardless of their grades, Nasheed said in the present day hundreds of people apply for job openings at government offices.
The 1976 law – comprised of 11 articles – requiring 80 percent of school leavers to join the civil service was therefore irrelevant today, he contended, with the exception of sections dealing with employees who refuse to return to work after completing government-sponsored higher education or training.
As the issue was not “clearcut,” Nasheed recommended “serious debate” on formulating new rules appropriate for present circumstances.
Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Abdul Gafoor Moosa meanwhile contended that the entire law should be abolished as it was unconstitutional.
The law was also in conflict with article 36 of the constitution on the right to education, which stipulates that the state should provide free primary and secondary education and ensure accessibility for higher education for all citizens.
While supporting the amendment, MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, however, accused the government of seeking positive headlines to mislead the public.
Jumhooree Party (JP) MP Gasim Ibrahim recommended expediting the debate on the legislation “to save time” as there was consensus among MPs on approving the amendment. The JP leader noted that several similar amendments to laws in conflict with the constitution were before parliament.
Among other amendments submitted by the government to bring outdated laws in line with the constitution include revisions to the Immigration Act, Child Protection Act, and detention procedures.
In June, Attorney General Mohamed Anil told local media that 51 pieces of legislation will be submitted to the current session of parliament out of a legislative agenda comprised of 207 bills.
4 thoughts on “Government proposes scrapping punishment for evading mandatory national service”
What about repayment of state supported higher education which is conveniently swept under the rug? How many evaders are out there who owe financial repayment to the government after their studies were completed? Those repayments could be supporting more education opportunities, but while some have paid them, MP Rifau could tell you that there are many people who never repaid their loans from the government.
The lacking sense of community and socialist ideals in some is a issue in my opinion. What can be done it cannot be forced upon. At-least the financial return that they got if they do not serve so another child of the country could benefit.
Instead of making national service mandatory why don't you send your young people on jihad to countries that share your religious beliefs.....you can split them up into groups and send them to Somalia to join Al Shabab, to Nigeria to join Boko Haram, to Iraq to join ISIS, to Palestine to join Hamas and to Afghanistan and Terroristan to join the Taliban.
I am sure they will get a good grounding in hate and intolerance just like they do at home.
Just think of all the money you will save.....might come in handy to pay off GMR.
I think MP Rifau is trying to save his ass from the problem as he is one of them who have to pay.. Spending most of his time in Malaysia selling Elken productions
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