Quarter of all parliament sittings disrupted, report finds

A quarter of all parliamentary sittings last year were terminated due to disruption, a report into the legislature’s performance last year by Transparency Maldives (TM) has found.

The Parliament Watch report, produced with UNDP support, draws on attendance and voting data obtained from the parliament secretariat.

Attendance data shows that shows that 22 MPs were absent for 35 sittings of parliament – more than a third of the total number held.

In addition to the four months of recess, 13 MPs took casual leave for 58 days – almost two months – while 20 MPs took 38 days leave. Only seven of the 77 MPs attended all sittings of parliament.

Notable absentees included Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Ali Mohamed, who was absent for 52 consectutive votes, and Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MP Nazim Rashaad, who missed blocks of 34 and 19 consecutive votes with only several days in between.

Independent MP Ahmed Shiyam Mohamed was among those who attended the least number of votes, and was absent for 84.

The report’s “highlights” of the first session of parliament included the dismissal of the Auditor General (and failure to approve a replacement for over a year), and the provision of Rf 2 million in media subsidies to the two wealthiest opposition-supporting private broadcasters, one of which is owned by a sitting MP.

Performance evaluation

The report also interviewed 15 MPs from a spread of parties and seven professionals from the media, civil society and legal sectors in an attempt to evaluate parliament’s performance.

It found that the strongest perceived aspect of parliament was the relative freedom MPs had “to express their opinions freely, without executive and legal interference,” although interviewees noted significant under-representation of women.

Parliament’s oversight of the executive was also highlighted for its autonomy over the government and scrutiny of appointments to executive posts, although the effectiveness of committees scored poorly.

The weakest area of parliament, TM found, was accountability, particularly the public acceptability of the procedure whereby members determined their salaries.

This was highlighted in one of parliament’s first votes of the June session, in which MPs voted against a motion to cut a controversial Rf20,000 in committee allowances – an effective 33 percent salary increase that sees Maldivian MPs earning on par with those in Sweden. A quarter of the chamber was absent during the vote.

The report highlighted oversight of party and candidate funding, procedures for preventing financial conflicts of interest, and reporting back to constituents as particular areas of weakness.

Based on its findings and interviews conducted, the report makes a number of recommendations. These include:

  • Fulfilling parliament’s constitutional obligation to publicise financial and other interests of MPs submitted to parliament. The report noted that the disclosure of such interests “should extend to the MP’s immediate children, spouse and parents”;
  • Prioritising bills of national interest, as bills vital to the state and preservation of justice, such as the evidence bill, right to information bill, political parties bill, penal code bill and drugs bill “remain stagnated at committee stage”;
  • Incentivising MPs to consult their constituencies, as despite allowances paid for such, “few MPs – if any – operate offices”;
  • Assessing the financial and governance impact of bills before they were passed, as bills such as the Public Finance Act and Decentralisation Act contained conflicting clauses;
  • Increasing the participation of women in parliament so as to ensure a balanced gender perspective;
  • Developing the infrastructure and human resource capacity of the secretariat, both of which were insufficient, as were the quality of documentation produced and its accessibility.~

Read the full Parliament Watch report


22 thoughts on “Quarter of all parliament sittings disrupted, report finds”

  1. Most people would consider these recommendations commonsense. I highly doubt the financial assets of these MPs will ever be disclosed though considering how corruption is not integrated into the parliamentary system. (e.g. Buying votes, using undue influence, voting according to specific business interests)

  2. It is shocking these people do so little work and yet take so much salary! Independent MP Ahmed Shiyam Mohamed, MP Ali Mohamed DRP and Nazim Rashaad MDP - hang your heads low. I hope your constituents hang you by your miserable bol---ks.

  3. These recommendations are commonsense but in the absence of commonsense they may seem preposterous or a gigantic task

  4. I for one would not want to be part of the membership of the current Maldivian Parliament.Such a parliament can only exist in a country where the electorate is immature and unaware. In the Maldives, money has always gone hand in hand with political power. The present parliament of Maldives, unlike the previous ones, enjoys real political power. The MPs know better than anybody else ( or rather as well as everyone else) that it is their turn to make money.Money they are, indeed, making. I am not surprised at all. I am surprised only that you are surprised.

  5. I believe these recommendations are like Dhonbaage Dahannakan....

    Anyway, it's an important job TM did....

    Also it's important that the People of Maldives to carefully look at and observe those MPs taking advantage of the poor citizen and using state revenue without doing the job that they are paid for.

    No doubt! such MPs have no sense of shame and that they would continue enjoying all the privileges and forget about their duties as MPs. So, now it's the peoples' duty to start the process of removing such MPs from the Majlis.. May Allah SWT help us to remove the dirty shameless MPs sitting in our Majlis, Ameen

  6. The report looks good but there are some issues in it that may be due to the lack of effort on the organizations part to do proper research.

    While Transparency talks of assets declaration I wonder whether they declare their assets.

    This project was funded by the UN so how much did they get and was the report the only output they have.

    Talking of grants given to Transparency I remember reading a year back that they were granted a million rufiyya or GBP 50,000 by the British Government. Wonder what Transparency did with it. Did they also publish another report for that money. Where can we see it. Could minivan do a followup.

    When an organization talks about transparency they need to be transparent themselves. This is why it is so difficult for us to trust these organizations who seem to know everything.

    As a citizen of Maldives, I call upon Transparency Maldives to declare their assets to the public and let us know what you have been doing with the millions you receive. The international donor money is targeted to the benefits of the Maldivian Society. We want to know what you do with it.

  7. if you cannot behave in a manner thats acceptable of a man with a social and political standing that warrants a pay of thousands in this bad economy THEN get them out!!!!
    By allowing these neanderthals to act this way we are saying its ok to do this, go right ahead act like baboons we will throw more money at you too as a salary to act like this!!
    Where is the qualified , dignified and well-mannered people who is suitable for this job? This is what happens when you hire greedy fame-whores!!

  8. Dear Ali Arif,

    Transparency Maldives welcomes any effort on part of an individual or an organization to scrutinize its governance policies and functions.

    Transparency Maldives commissions audits to international firms annually. The audit reports are available to individuals and institutions on request. Projects that Transparency Maldives conducts are subject to scrutiny by the funding organizations and must meet the financial and governance standards of the respective donors. Further to Transparency Maldives' internal mechanisms, Transparency Maldives must also adhere to Transparency International's governance and financial standards to remain accredited with the global coalition.

    Transparency Maldives' members and staff are required to submit a declaration of interest to the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is elected by an annual meeting with at least 2/3rds of members present.

    Parliament Watch: An Evaluation of the Parliament 2010 is not the only output of the project funded by UNDP. I invite you to read the first four sections of the report to understand the depth of the work that we have done, including lobbying for changes to bills/legislations at committee stage etc.

    Transparency Maldives received GBP 50,000 by the British government to conduct a project on assessing the transparency of political finance. The project is ongoing and we expect to release a report within two months.

    Transparency Maldives welcomes and encourages Ali Arif and other individuals to participate in our organization by way of queries or by lending support to our work. Please feel free to call our number 330 4017 should you have further questions regarding our work.

    Thank you for your interest in the work of Transparency Maldives.

    best regards,
    Aiman Rasheed
    General Secretary
    Transparency Maldives Board of Directors.

  9. Good PR Aiman. However, this small country makes such work as you are doing extremely difficult.

    Your sister's relationship with the MDP and your perceived affiliation with the ruling party makes accepting your work as unbiased kind of hard. Please do not take it the wrong way. Tsk tsk welcomes any and all politically correct replies to this comment and would encourage TM and other internationally-backed organizations in this country to challenge the social norms of this country.

    Thank you,

    Tsk Tsk,
    Regular Maldivian,

  10. tsk tsk. what has aiman's sister's relationship with MDP got to do with Transparency Maldives? are you also having the same political views and opinions as your father and grandfather? in the maldives, it is very common for people from one family to have different political views. for example, it was the relatives of Mohamed Amin Didi who plotted a coup against him. now we see Alim Shukoor as spokesperson fro Thasmeen Ali while Alim's sister Azima Shukoor is the lawyer for Gayoom and Yameen.

  11. My perception of why the Parliament can never seem to co-operate is as follows.

    The hatred on both sides of Parliament is fuelled by deep wounds which go back many years. Politics is so deeply personal, and so fuelled by hurt and vengeance, on BOTH sides, that it is almost impossible to agree with one you feel is on the side of someone who hurt you so much, even if it is good for the whole country. Too much pain equals too much pain. The pride and selfishness of the intensity I see expressed can only be made from severe pain, it is actually a natural protection mechanism

    It may take years of reconciliation and healing to fix.

    Some of Maumoon's sincere supporters love Maumoon so much because they can feel the pain he went through struggling against Nasir, and then, they can feel the pain he went through being hunted down with the intention to kill him. These ones sympathize with the suffering Maumoon went through standing up against Nasir as they had also been hurt by Nasir. Some love Maumoon as they had been hurt or lost loved ones in the coup attempt, and they feel that, as the point of the coup was to harm Maumoon, it makes Maumoon so dear to them. Those hurt in the coup have come to believe that Anni's only intentions were to win the coup through another means. Some claim that because Anni's Uncles were allegedly involved in the coup (or distant relatives) that Anni himself is one of them, a guy who would murder his own people to get power. So, they hate Anni and MDP passionately, they feel they are their families murderers.

    On the other hand, the sincerest supporters of Anni and MDP are those who had been hurt, had their loved ones murdered or tortured by Maumoon or his people, so, for them, Anni is the symbol of their own pain.

    Again, it is a survival instinct.

    I am not here to debate whether Maumoon's supporter are justified in thinking Anni's true intentions are nothing but will to power. I don't believe that Anni himself is like this, but then, for me to comment on who or what Anni is is foolish, because, I don't know the truth. I don't know Anni or who his family is, so I don't know if these are true or not. My respect for him is based on the fact that I felt repressed by the opposition, and sympathized with Anni for that. Also, I only know Anni through the media, which can not be relied on.

    So, when I see past my own hurt, I can see how utterly selfish and stupid my taking sides was,

    I now renounce my taking sides.

    But what needs to happen for parliament to get on track, is for healing and reconciliation to happen, so political squabbles would be about the Maldives, not about personal hurt...

    I am very serious about this.

    Their has to be deep healing for all, or else, parliament will fail

  12. @tsk tsk was right about my stupidity for taking sides, though he was wrong about my overall intentions, he was right about that... I was blind.
    I admit I am just a gullible outsider who knows nothing.

    In fact, the nature of power is such that I don't think it is logical to see any one as right or wrong in political struggles, every side feels they are the righteouss oppressed, and can only see their own pain. A victim mentality fuels all power struggles. Yet when one is always seeing themselves as a victim, one cannot see that the way they are treating others is wrong, everyone is always justified in their own head for the pain they cause others.

    I have learnt that my Western moral judgements about humanity, morality, democracy, liberty, etc... are all totally stupid and oppressive.

    I believe, that Maumoon believed that everything he did was genuinely for the good of Maldives, and that even torturing and oppressing, he believed it to be necessary to save Maldives from terrorism and a further coup attempt. Yes, that is a delusional belief, but we are all deluded by our own struggle.

    I believe that everything Anni does, even if he were to jail a person, that HE believes that he is serving the best interest of the Maldives...

    Yes, intentions are all pure, to oneself and to one's supporters, emotions are all self deceptive.

    I feel, that what is needed, is a genuine exchange of mutual empathy.

    This will sound, to you guys, like a whole lot of emotional dribble, but, I am really serious, democracy will fail in the Maldives if an attitude of empathy is not cultivated, as pain, pride, and will to power will rise up, smash the contitution down, and demolish democracy in your nation if ppl don't support reconcilliation development.

  13. As difficult as this will be to do...

    The most radical supporters of MDP (Reeko Moosa Firebrand full of pain and hatred type) have to try and imagine themsleves being cast aside by Nasir, and try and imagine that pain, and the pain of all those hurt in the coup attempt...

    The most radical supporters of MAumoon need to imagine the pain of - the family of Evan Naseem, and all those killed and tortured in jail, the pain of Anni being tortured, and... the pain his Wife went through, giving birth without her Husband being by her side, because he was detained...

    I am serious...

    This MAY seem impossible, but, with sincere prayer and sincere intention, The Creator can make the impossible possible.

    yes, squabble about economics, debate about everything, but drop the hatred, it is destroying Maldives...

    IF it does not happen, the Politics will need to resort to tyranny for efficiency, or else, nothing will ever get done...

    Tyranny is the product of unforgiveness...

  14. Ben Playright. a foreigner writing thousands of words here without understanding the politics and history of the Maldives. when you write about a coup attempt i assume that you are referring to the 1988 November coup attempt. victims of that coup attempt are families of the people who were brutally killed by the mercenaries. an evil deed committed on our soil and i condemn it. but are those families of those killed on that day the same ones who are the most vocal opponents of the current government? i highly doubt. they are a handful of families, mostly not even powerful families in the maldives and they are just mourning the losses of their loved ones rather than getting their hands dirty with the politics of the maldives. november 3rd topic is brought up by the gayoom loyalists whenever they want to discredit their opponents. this was done when sangu was published in 1990 linking the writers of sangu to the coup plotters. this was done when MDP was the opposition party trying to bring down the gayoom regime. and this is being done now when Anni is in power. some of the families of victims of the coup attempt could be supporters of gayoom but then again they are negligible when talking about the supporters of gayoom. most vocal supporters of gayoom are those who benefited under his regime, whether they received good jobs, large contracts or other benefits from the regime. it also foolish to think that all criticism against the current government boils down to Anni. i agree that Anni has been a major disappointment but the unpopularity of MDP must also be attributed to all other incompetent and corrupt officials of the current administration. it is foolish to categorize supporters of gayoom to those who were hurt under Nasir's regime. i agree that one reason why people supported gayoom initially was because they wanted a change from nasir's autocratic rule. but not everyone who is a supporter of gayoom today is a person who was hurt under nasir. even Anni's father Keneree Abdul Sathar was jailed under Nasir's regime. but he is not a supporter of gayoom anymore (though he did initially and played cricket at Aarah with the dictator). the current politics of the Maldives cannot be examined by only taking such old factors as Nasir's autocratic rule or the 1988 coup attempt. to analyse the current politics of the maldives one has to know Heavy Load Maldives, Mega Maldives, the political aspirations of Gayoom's half-brother Yameen, the aspirations of Thasmeen, the hopes of Gayoom's sons and daughters, the dream of Anni to rule for a second-term and make MDP the strongest party in Maldives, the failure of Anni to listen to good advice, the greed of the officials and activists of MDP which is driving them on a rampage of corruption and the hopes of Gayoom's cronies to come to power again to enjoy the riches of the Maldives as they once did.

  15. Kakuni as summed up some of the key factors very nicely.

    As a foreigner "Ben" or whoever you are, it is best just not to comment on the internal issues of a country. If you truly have an objective outsider's view, write about it and record it for posterity. I am sure my comments on an Australian news network about how Australia should function and my aspirations for a better Australia would just seem nosy, patronizing and well...just plain bonkers. So no harm meant buddy, just stick to observing.

    The time for comparisons and historical observations are now past. What we have is the here and now. President Nasheed's government is undeniably inept. We face economic hardship and sociopolitical divisions which threaten to drive our country to the ground. We are currently under the threat of being;

    - Annexed by India.
    - Strategically consumed by the Chinese juggernaut.
    - Drawn into America's dying gasps at maintaining its hegemony.
    - Denigrated to the status of second-class citizens in our own country due to the sheer stupidity and greed of our rulers.

    If we are to set things on the right path, nothing short of a counterrevolution to the jaundice that afflicts our country can save us now. Let me be the first to sound the rebel yell. Down with Anni, down with the MDP, to hell with the false Anni-Maumoon dichotomy. We need to rethink our government. If the current leaders plan to stay in power do something and get your acts together. Corruption might be a part of politics in every country but it is reaching the levels of insanity in our country. Get a grip and get our economy on the right path. Protect our people. Secure our borders and ensure our future.

  16. We Maldivians start our games with coconut shells and sand. usually sitting under breadfruit trees, we dig small holes in the sand to be the stoves for our cooking. children fetch water in discarded bottles and mix the sand and water in the coconut shells. leaves and flowers are sometimes shreded into the sand mix. once prepared the little coconut shells are placed over the stoves. All the kids from the neighbouring house holds run additional chores in the preparations as the cooking continues. And thus we Maldivians start with almost every aspect of our living. When we were small we call it "Baiy Kakkaa kulhun". In 2008 for the first time we started our first elected parliament, and now we are at the stage of "Baiy Kakkaa Kulhun". I am proud of the Maldivian customs and culture. "Izzaiytheri Membarun nah salaam" ....

  17. Transparency Maldives, it would be helpful if you would publish your audit reports and financial sources online, in order to increase your legitimacy amongst the public.

    I did not know before that MPs are paid to maintain offices.. what are they doing with that allowance then? Have we seriously created a monster with the majlis who cannot be held accountable by anyone?

  18. @tsk tsk: kakuni: Whether I like it or not, what happens in the Maldives happens to effect me deeply for reasons I have explained in previous posts. I did not wake up oneday and decide I wanted to stick my nose where it does not belong, I am not that mad.

    So yes, I am a foreigner, but I sure as hell did not stick my nose in, it was the other way around, Maldives stuck itself into my nose, so, even if I understand nothing, and I am completely wrong and ignorant, what is happening effects me in ways it is hard for me to explain fully here, so... I never wanted Maldives to be my business, but it is whether I like it or not... So I am sorry, but, as naive and ignorant as I obviously am, until Maldives and its systems leave my life in peace, I will continue to fight for myself...

  19. Just in case you guys had not noticed, we are all connected, if you guys behave badly, it no longer only hurts Maldivians, it hurts others. You better watch how you behave as it won't only be Maldivians who will be hurt any longer, and I'll tell you something. Not everone is a non-violent, pacifist meek, mild shy little sorry assed, squinty eyed, dorky, ignorant, powerless, weak coward like me. You will soon hurt somebody who knows how to throw a social punch properly, it won't be me,

    But get used to it... This is the global community, your attempts to make Faranji butt out are infantile, this is not the dark ages man. If you want your freedom, stop hurting your ppl, because the hurt your society causes it's own people is thrust out through force and becomes the hurt of others, yeah, that's right, somebody is going to punch you back, and it is going to HURT!

    What MLK said is more relevant now than ever.

    Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

    I am living proof of this.

  20. @Kahuni, Tsk Tsk: Everybody, I actually am deeply sorry for bringing up the issue of Nasir and the coup, and any other pain or death…

    I only wanted healing through it. The last thing I wanted to do was to hurt you or anybody else.

    I mean that, even if it is well intentioned there are certain things I will no longer touch on.

    I genuinely am sorry to you and to everyone else for bringing up that…

    I will continue to comment, for the reasons I have explained, but, I will be much more careful from now on…

  21. @kakuni... thankyou for clarifying...

    I actually thought as such as I was writing, and I actually anticipated this exact response. But because I was passionate about reconciliation I went ahead and said something I kind of knew was incorrect technically.

    I will stick to what I know for sure, from now on, and what I feel, you guys will no doubt help me with the facts,

    by the way, thankyou, you guys are giving me an important education on... Many things, on how foolish some of our western concepts are, on how revolutionary figures are products of imagination, on how, pain and death is exploited by power brokers who do not really care yet pretend to care about the pain to gain sympathy, blame game points and pain the opposition as BAD etc... TSSK TSK especially, your criticisms are awesome education for me man thankyou, keep up the criticism please guys this is better politics lesson than what I got at uni... I will try be more careful as well


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