Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Mohamed Musthafa has said that protesters against MPs committee allowance have invaded the privacy of MPs and violated MPs privileges, after the protesters put up posters of photos of MPs with their personal mobile phone numbers.
“MPs have been subjected to disturbances from citizens that hate them, and publishing the personal mobile number of MPs invades the privacy and privileges of MPs,” Musthafa said. “They have invaded our personal life by doing that.”
Musthafa said he had asked Speaker Abdulla Shahid to look into the matter, and said he was looking forward to hearing from the parliament.
“I think the parliament will issue a press release today, I am looking forward to it,” he said. “Shahid is currently abroad on an official trip so I sent him a text message to bring it to his attention.”
Musthafa said that some MPs have said they are unable to use their numbers any longer.
“One MP told me that he had been using his number for 12 years and the number was used for international relations as well, but he said now he has no other choice but to throw it away and get a new number,” he said. “How the NGOs acted on this matter is very disappointing, they could have done it a better way.”
He alleged that were “senior figures” behind the NGOs.
“MPs are members representing constituencies and become an MP with the consent of their constituency, so people should have at least some respect for them,” Musthafa said.
In the text message sent to Speaker Shahid, Musthafa said that it was very concerning that MPs personal contact numbers had been published on a poster with their photo in Majeedee Magu.
He told Shahid that the personal details of MPs could not be published without their consent, alleging that culprits had asked people to call and disturb the MPs.
“It is the legal duty of the parliament to find out the culprits, and they should be prosecuted and action should be taken,” Musthafa said.
Project Coordinator of Transparency Maldives Aiman Rasheed’s mobile phone and landline was not reachable and he was unavailable for comment.
Parliament meanwhile issued a press statement today noting that the constitution protected the privacy of individuals.
“Matters should be brought to MPs’ attention responsibly in a way that does not undermine their dignity and reputation or create difficulties in their personal lives,” it reads, adding that making MPs photos and contact information public “as a nusisance to them” was a “matter of concern.”
Noting that MPs had special privileges under the law, it continues, “any action that undermines MPs’ dignity can be seen as violating MPs’ privileges.”
The statement concludes by urging the public not to violate “social norms” in contacting MPs.
A Majlis media official confirmed to Minivan News today that only 19 of 77 MPs have written requesting that the lump sum of Rf140,000 not be desposited with their salaries. They include 16 MDP MPs, Independent MP ‘Kutti’ Mohamed Nasheed and Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and his wife MP Visam Ali.
Last Monday Aiman told Minivan News that the campaign against the committee allowance will continue and there was hope for success.
“Today we presented the Finance Ministry 1365 letters signed by concerned citizens and eight cabinet members, plus high-profile people across the country,” he said at the time.
“We have made plans to continue the letter campaign and to make the citizens aware of the impacts of this committee allowance.”
MP salaries have increased 18-fold since 2004, according to a graph released by the NGO.
The committee allowance was Rf18 million, Rasheed said. “In comparison, the budget to combat drugs is Rf 14 million, the budget subsiding the fishing industry is Rf12 million, medical services Rf18 million and the budget for small and medium businesses is Rf16 million,” he said, adding that these areas would be impacted by the increased expenditure on MPs.