Parliament cancelled over ‘lack of work’

Today’s main parliamentary session was cancelled the basis of there being no work on its agenda.

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom has meanwhile claimed that the Majlis was nonetheless “on track” with its legislative duties and was being unfairly criticised for a perceived spike in gang violence across the country.

Speaking to Minivan News, Dr Mausoom claimed that despite the cancelation of a scheduled meeting in the Majlis’ main chamber today, committee work was still continuing in the parliament, which he believed was playing its part in pushing legislation to allow law enforcement officials to deal with violent crimes, despite certain “public perceptions” to the contrary. The opposition party MP claimed that parliament was stepping up its workload to ensure the government, as the country’s executive branch, had the right powers and capabilities to uphold the law.

While alleging that current statistics indicated that there were an estimated 460 people on the country’s streets who should be held in custody over their suspected involvement in criminal activity, Mausoom said he believed that national media had incorrectly created an impression that potential parliamentary failings were solely responsible.

“There are people who have been sentenced [for criminal behaviour] that are currently out on the street. There is a public perception that a lack of legislation has led to this,” he said. “The media perception is that more legislation is needed to do their work and that they have to be detained somehow. However, I do not think this is the case.”

Mausoom said that the formation by the president of a National Crime Prevention Committee and the passing during the current parliamentary session of a number of bills, such as measures to punish individuals carrying items that can be used as weapons, served to highlight that the Majlis was working to try and deal with public concerns about gang violence and other major crimes.

“MPs and opposition parties have made agreements to try and work together to ensure major bills are passed quickly,” he said. “Two of the bills currently in the Majlis relate to criminal process and witness protection, but these will take time as they are very technical.”

Mausoom added that he understood possible frustrations from the public that parliament’s main session had been cancelled and would not reconvene till next week after Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim said that certain MPs wishing to present bills to the floor were unavailable to do so today.

However, Mausoom claimed that “public perceptions” about the cancellation of today’s main session and wider concerns that MPs may not be acting professionally were failing to address wider societal problems concerning crime that he believed represented a failure of the government to deal with the issue.

“The Majlis is not the executive [governing] branch, we are the legislative branch,” he said. “My question to the government would be; what is the missing piece of legislation that is preventing you from doing your jobs and protecting people?”

Mausoom’s comment come after parliamentary speaker and fellow DRP MP Abdulla Shahid told Minivan News last month that he believed that while the Majlis had become much more productive in the number of bills and legislation it was passing, the institution had still failed to live up to public expectations.

“The three branches of government are trying to deal with a situation where, as in any transition, the expectations of the public are at a very high level. When you have a new democracy come in, citizens will be wanting things to change overnight. [These expectations] have been seen in many countries,” the speaker said at the time. “The challenges that we have here – with the judiciary and parliament – are not because we are unable to perform, but that we are unable to perform to the expectations of the people.”

Shahid accepted that subjects such as outlining a clear and clarified penal code, as well as an Evidence Bill to support judicial reform and policing, were vital areas needed to be addressed by MPs, with partisan behaviour between rival parties within the Majlis creating the impression that there was no interest in having such bills passed.

In order to facilitate a faster moving reform of criminal legislation, Shahid claimed that talks had been opened during March between the various political stakeholders required to finalise any agreements.

“I met with party leaders and also the chair of all the committees yesterday (March 30). There is the general desire amongst the leadership to find ways of increasing the productivity rate of the house. We feel even though we continue to do work ahead of what any other parliament had done, still we are far behind in meeting the public’s expectations,” he added.  “The reality is that we need to meet these public expectations. The committee chairs have given me an agreement that they will try and finds ways of fast tracking many of the bills, while political parties supplied an agreement that on issues on which they may disagree, they will endeavour to deal with the technical and more mundane bills faster.”

Aside from MPs working along partisan lines, Shahid said that the issue of language was another significant challenge for members to overcome – especially in translating very technical proposals relating to legal definitions into Dhivehi from other languages.

While other Commonwealth countries were able to take existing legislation and adapt the document accordingly, the Speaker took the example of the Penal Code. In its original English draft, put together by Professor Paul Robinson at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, the code was said to have perfect sense, yet the Speaker said it did not translate directly into the Dhivehi language.

The speaker’s comments were generally shared by certain local NGOs like Transparency Maldives, which claimed that it believed parliament was additionally failing to meet its responsibilities as set out in the national constitution.

Aiman Rasheed, Projects Coordinator for Transparency Maldives, told Minivan News earlier this month that although it accepted that there had been improvements within the effectiveness of the Majlis concerning the amount of legislation passed, the NGO was concerned that parliament had failed to work independently and pass vital bills such as a national Penal Code.

“Shahid is right when he says that parliament has failed to meet public expectations,” he claimed at the time. “It is not just in meeting public expectations that the Majlis has failed in, but constitutional expectations as well.”

Rasheed said that although parliament was holding the president and the executive accountable for their actions, he believed that there was a failure to review legislation in terms of financial and political impacts before it was being passed from parliamentary committees back to the Majlis.

Rasheed said that the NGO had spoken with 15 MPs from across a number of political parties including the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and the DRP as part of a project called Parliament Watch designed to try and put a spotlight on governance and political decision making. From these discussions, Rasheed claimed that the NGO had uncovered a wide consensus of concerns over parliament’s ability to review and research the legislative process.

“All the parliamentarians that we have spoken to said that they believed that the current set up is not sufficient for parliament to meet its constitutional requirements,” he said. “There is no proper system of review mechanisms [within parliament].”


12 thoughts on “Parliament cancelled over ‘lack of work’”

  1. “My question to the government would be; what is the missing piece of legislation that is preventing you from doing your jobs and protecting people?”
    Did the "doctor" know that whatever Police does is going down the drain because of that sloppy evidence act? how about that penal code? did the "doctor" know that counterfeiting US dollar isnt a crime in Maldives? but MPs are so eager to "draft" their own version of their own privileges law and all those unimportant bills, but dont have the balls to draft a good penal code?
    yeah, sure. MPs dont have any work at all... put the blame on the government and we are all set. yippy dandy doodle!

  2. enlighten me again why we are paying these fools exorbitant amount of money the country does not have ?.
    The way these morons are taking the country to the cleaners is akin to daylight robbery.

  3. Well done 'the opposition'. Atleast you are showing the interest in implementing measures to safeguard the public from these gang criminals. Sadly the MDP is not at all showing improvement in protecting the citizens. How can they! Most of the gangs operate under their command.

  4. MN... Can you please do an indepth report on this gang violence in Male'? I haven't actually seen any of your reports publishing on this site any analysis of your own regarding this topic. You always put up stories of this but haven't actually managed to interview even one of them (criminals) and let us know why all these gangs are happening and who are the people who seems to be operating them.

  5. Agree that there are legislative bills/ammendments that are essential.... BUT

    The convicted/sentenced 450 plus criminals out on the streets.... is it because of legal loopholes?

    The dramatic increase in number of fugitives (some from Court and some even from Surgical Theater lol ).... are they because of legal loopholes?

    Police not being properly "equipped" and "empowered", is it becauser of legal loopholes?

    The fact is that the government lacks the will to solve the problem. It is already late..but not too late for the govt to act with will.

  6. Parliament should be shut down for the rest of the year so the rest of the country can do some real work.
    Right now it the politics that is sinking the country

  7. Just a few minority in the country still tries to make this issue a party issue and blame always the other side. These violence is not about MDP, DRP or any other party as a whole. Its about the elected Parliament members from all the parties as a whole failing for the past 2 years to implement laws which would make it safe for us to walk on the street or let our children go out and feel safe that nothing bad is out there. Now it happens on broad daylight! So don't think anyone one of you can just come up and tell the public that its not the Parliaments fault. First year at parliament was like watching a zoo fight between different parties. These are all time wasted, days wasted, weeks and months thrown away for your own self interests. Most of the MPs talk big about combating crime, but when it comes to doing your job.. you drag your feet for over 2 years... that's 730 days. If you loved your country or atleast your people, you would be spending less time bickering over which party is better and more time in bringing laws that will make thieves and killers think twice before they even try to commit a crime.

    Now that the public's anger is at a boiling point due to Parliament's failure, why bother coming out trying to explain this and that. If there was a problem, why wait 2 years?

    Subhanallah, I feel some politicians are really taking advantage of voters with their soothing talk and ability to fund islands in exchange for more votes. You should assist your people even if some does not like you. Being a politician does not mean people have to please you. Maldivians are not like some other Asian countries and they do not want to turn into a corrupt country like others have.

    May Allah (swt) guide you all to fear Him before your time of death comes because there is no repenting after that. Let me remind you of death, so you can be more honest in your dealings for Allah (swt) will hold you accountable for every atom of bad deed you do. Only the good hearted ones are blessed.

    "Every soul shall have a taste of death: and only on the Day of
    Judgement shall you be paid your full recompense." (Quran 3:185)

    "Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good, by way of trial. To Us must you return." (21:35)

    "Every soul shall have a taste of death: In the end to Us shall you be brought back." (29:57)

    "Wherever you are, Death will find you out, even if you are in towers built up strong and high! " (4:78)

    "Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger, they are with those whom Allah has blessed, the prophets, the sincere, the martyrs and the righteous. Very excellent companions they are!" (4:69)

    Now one of the most important hadiths which you as a politician or as a person with authority should remember more than the ordinary person:

    Abu Hurayrah related that the prophet (saw) said: "Every servant of Allah will remain standing before Allah on the Day of Judgement until he has answered five questions about five things: His life--how he spent it; his knowledge--how much he acted upon it; his wealth--how he acquired it and how he spent it; and his body (and health)--how he used it." [Muslim]

    Hold yourself accountable, before Allah (swt) holds you accountable!

  8. Parliamentarians should be ashamed to carry on their private and party businesses as their full time employment while taking probably the highest paid salaries in the world (in comparision to country's average salary). What a shame even to open their mouth blaming others when there is no penal code, no evidence law, and most other laws also being very very old. Shame... shame... on you...

  9. are you freakking kidding me!!!?
    No work! So why the heck are you going on and on about your "ramzee inaayath" if you dont work you dont get even basic salary. what applies to others doesnt seem to apply to you.

  10. @Mausoom-

    By omission you continue to sprout lies of the DRP. You are the worst kind, the educated who choose to ignore the detrimental role DRP plays. I can ignore idiots like Nihan, Umar Naseer and co who give rabble rousing speeches stumbling after one fallacy after another, they are idiots who mistakenly believe themselves to be saviours, but you are not an idiot.

    As for the dysfunction of the Judiciary you can ask the people of your party in the JSC whether they followed due process inspite of Velizinee's protestations in swearing in incompetents and indicted criminals as judges. The very same judges who released murderers who went on to murder a week after they were released. The very same judges who ruled that swords weren't illegal because no laws against "swords" exist. I could go on, but you get the drift.

    Through the JSC the judiciary is owned by you and your party. Judges are able to issue court orders at midnight on a Friday when Yameen needs to be released but the same judges and courts can't set a date for months when one of you is charged with corruption.

    You can fool a few Mausoom and don't think you can hide within the group, you bear more responsibility because you know better.

    We need an opposition because Anni are not doing the job we expected, but we will not have one until people like you speak the truth and are sincere. If educated and smart people behave like populist idiots, what chance do we have?

    You probably are secretly ashamed of yourself, it must torment you that you sold your soul. Serves you right to sit through those cringe inducing rallies.

    Shame on you.

  11. What work would there be for a Parliament in a place where the govt. depts do nothing, never respond to communications and the police do nothing?????

  12. REMEMBER, ANY BUREAUCRACIES FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS IS SELF-SURVIVAL AND CONTINUANCE.... if there is any time or money left they can argue how to spend it. How many people there are considered of too little importance to represent?????? No wonder they have no work......


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