The following is an English translation of a speech by former opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) member Ali Waheed given after signing with the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).
I first met you from behind a podium like this during the 2008 presidential campaign. The 2008 presidential election was a competitive contest that took place due to the hard work of the beloved members of MDP and the efforts of members from other parties as well. We were able to have that election due to a lot of hard work by some members of the Special Majlis [constitutional assembly convened to revise the constitution].
What I am trying to say is, with the life of our constitution changed and those changes accepted by the people, but without forming an interim government – that is a transitional government that included the opposition – we Maldivians had to face a competitive election. That election was won by his Excellency President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed from the Maldivian Democratic Party-led coalition.
Following that election then came the parliamentary election. In that election the Maldivian people gave to those opposed to the government a majority to hold it accountable. In truth, a government of change was formed among us and, to hold that government to account, parliamentary majority was given to opposition parties.
Two and a half years we swam in that sea. However, what we, or I definitely, tried to do [in opposition] was clean the muddy aspects of a long rule. To do that, at the DRP Congress I came out in first [place] as deputy leader in spite of the direct disapproval of DRP Zaeem al-Usthaz Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.
However, when boys who came from Thoddoo, Addu and the street achieved high posts in democracy, beyfulhun (aristocrats or members of the upper class) could not accept it!
We did not bring change to the country for a person to advance because he belongs to a certain family or clan, but for a person to move up through merit. Today we can see that those who could not digest this have created different factions and we can see the state of the party we formed with our hard work. Therefore, because [the party] has become an inheritance, I have let go and walked out empty-handed.
I’ve come to this podium tonight empty-handed. I have signed this form as a common member of MDP. I joined DRP as a common member. I know how to climb one rung after another and advance in the party.
We have seen that in parliament we have had very competitive and heated debates. However democracy is for those who can come to the [discussion] table even with differences of opinion.
There are people in the DRP who believe that talking to Caranyge Mohamed Nasheed is haram [sinful or forbidden]. However, I say this with daring, I am the one who criticised Mohamed Nasheed the most but here I am at this podium!
Democracy is about criticising when it’s needed and shaking hands if we have to. We are all Maldivians here! This country belongs to all of us. This President is the President of all of us so we can criticise and praise him, too.
What we see in parliament, with two and a half years gone, what we see from opposition activities is that, despite prolonged efforts within the opposition coalition, everything becomes about saving a person whose tail is caught and stuck in the 30-year reign! Everything! So what solution can [they] bring?
We dare to load our magazine with bullets, sling our rifles and come out to the front. That’s why it is from our tongues that the ‘boom, boom’ comes most loudly. However, a flight cannot be operated without passengers, without fuel. That’s why I’ve come to collect the passengers.
We truly have to think today, our country is at a very critical juncture economically and socially. My manner of speaking is not going to change even if I’ve left the blue podium for the yellow. The fact that prices of goods are rising is a reality that we all know. That dollars are out of reach for us is a reality.
The government has a plan but what the opposition has is only calling [the plan] bad. When we asked for an alternative, we never got an answer for that.
When the party’s name failed and the name of youth was attached, even then we came out to protest, because it was on behalf of the rights of the Maldivian people. However when it came to negotiating, or when it came to offering a better change than the one made by the President, what they are now saying is ‘if we protest any further we might be arrested, so we’re going to stop protesting’!
It can’t be done this way. There must be a solution. Therefore, when there is no purpose or destination, what I want to say is that it’s going to become an exercise in futility. Ordinary DRP members use your brains and think!
We come out under different colours not only to serve the party, but to serve the nation. If so, if one party offers a better ideology or philosophy, ideology must be met with ideology. We cannot change the country if we bring only resistance to that ideology [without offering an opposing or alternate ideology].
So it’s been two and a half years of resisting and opposing for argument’s sake. But two and a half years later, DRP has not given birth to an ideology – that is why I had to leave.
I do want to say this though: because the government did not have a majority in parliament, I do accept that things had to be done in the margins. Any government would have had to do so, as the President says, acting inside and outside and in margins of the chart – that was necessary to maintain this government!
Now however, when parliament returns from recess, we will redraw the chart and its boundaries will be clear. We will move forward with this government even if it means setting aside those who would obstruct benefits to the Maldivian people.
If we do not, what we have before us are very dire consequences. For example, we are very young. Our young generation is bound in chains. There is not a single family in this country without a youth caught up in drug abuse. With things as it is, we cannot solve this if we squander the future of this country with political quarrels between opposition and government in parliament.
Tomorrow we might have a new leader and a yet a new one the day after that. A new colour might come. I have not come to the MDP podium assuming at all that MDP will win in 2013. Even if [MDP] loses, we have come accepting a principle and we shall remain so.
You would have heard at the last sitting of the Majlis session about a sunset law, as it’s popularly known in the media. If powerful laws are written as the prescription for what’s ailing our youth, we cannot find a solution. And if we resist the changes that need to be made to our economy, we cannot win tomorrow. Therefore, we have to bring our expenditure in line with revenue. Without doing so, how can we bring down the price of a dollar? The only thing that will come down will be our shorts.
I don’t want to say much today. I don’t want to launch attacks. I saw yesterday the leader of my former party saying that ‘leaders are those who do not leave whenever they are worried.’ I have been worried and concerned for two and half years now. I have not come [to MDP] all of a sudden.
I did go to the Supreme Court and remove ministers, thinking that it was a philosophy that was beneficial to the Maldivian people. However when the matter of approving this Finance Minister [Ahmed Inaz] came before us, we started receiving orders to eliminate him because he was young. But I’m a youth too. I told them, why not keep [the no-confidence motion] until after the recess, as politically by then the people will be unhappy with rising prices. But they went and ahead and did it anyway. After that, the finance minister said at a news conference that Majlis giving him consent meant MPs have said yes to the increase in the value of dollars – for that they wanted to submit a no-confidence motion and the first name on it was Ali Waheed. I told them you sign it, it cannot be done!
This is why I’m saying that the efforts of politicians in parliament and inside and outside government to shape and instill democratic principles in this country are going to waste. Independent institutions are being filled with people who belong to those whose tails are caught. The whole system is collapsing! We cannot stand aside and watch this happen.
It is not the President or MDP who will be harmed because of this. It is the beloved Maldivian people and our children who will suffer. […] We must not be stuck in quotation marks after two and a half years. We have to hike it up to maximum and bring wellbeing and prosperity for our people. Vassalaamalaikum.
Ali Waheed as a DRP MP:
“I would say our Zaeem, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, is with us here tonight. The reason is that there’s a full moon tonight and Maumoon is this party’s full moon.”
– April 2010, celebrating the DRP’s victory on the decentralisation bill.
“Given the state of the country today, the biggest betrayal to the nation and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party would be to split up this party,”
– November 2010, on holding concurrent opposition protests
”They take me to police custody like a medicine they take twice daily. It’s all President Mohamed Nasheed’s doing. He is afraid of me.””
– March 2010, after a police case against him was filed with the Prosecutor General for last years ‘gate-climbing’ protest outside Muleaage.
“Without doubt these new procedures are void – nobody can narrow the summoning of cabinet ministers to parliament.’’
– October 2010, after the government ordered Ministers not to respond to parliament questioning.
“People who should be behind bars are sitting around on the beaches, sucking on butts and all sorts of things – this is the result.”
– October 2010, on how the lack of prisons is responsible for rising crime.
“When I received government documents that I believed had the potential to harm the national security of the country I presented it to the national security committee to investigate. I do not believe that it is known as thieving. It was not leaked by my mistake.”
– May 2010, after releasing confidential documents on the government’s intention to accept several Guantanamo Bay inmates.