Comment: A Jumhoree Maldives?

This article was first published on Republished with permission.

I went with a friend to the Jumhoree Maalan on Majeedhee Magu last night to get a copy of the Jumhoree Party manifesto.

The Maalan is a vast space of two floors, on a piece of land well over 2000 square feet. Part of it, towards the back, is cordoned off with a big red banner saying ‘Voting Booth’. Two men sat at a table to the side – they looked the closest thing to receptionists we could find. We asked them for a manifesto.

For some reason, the request surprised them. They called over a harried looking man, ‘Ahammadhey’. He agreed to give us a copy and walked over to a room at the back with a big bunch of keys. JP manifesto is kept under lock and key, like a tightly guarded trade secret. He brought us each a little leaflet, a six page summary of the People’s Manifesto: Development Certain.

The frontpage is an illustration of JP’s vision for Maldives. There’s a small island to the far right, connected to an ‘Islamic city’ rising from the sea. The entire shoreline is dominated by a mosque which itself dominates a university standing adjacent, to the left. There’s one or two trees, a crane busily constructing more buildings in a concrete jungle.

A father and son are at the forefront of the picture, walking into the mosque together. They are the nucleus, the centre of the universe as imagined by JP. A woman is somewhere in the distant background, attending to a little household chore, as women do. The only other person is a figure of non-distinctive gender, standing on a bridge. S/he looks about to jump off it. A Maldivian flag is the tallest of all things, rising above everything except the minaret. Not one but two suns shine down on this JP idyll.

There’s quite a few things—eighty three to be exact— that JP promises will happen to make this vision a reality. It begins with the promise to build an Islamic university, followed by the promise to include Nationalism as a separate subject in the national curriculum. Four regional institutes for ‘Arab Islamic learning’ will be established across the country. Next to religion is crime and punishment. Better forensics, more surveillance, better trained police with its own ‘world class’ Police Academy and an all powerful Anti-Drug Agency that will ‘completely stop’ Male’s thriving drug trade.

We asked Ahammadhey if he could talk us through some of the pledges. ‘I am a masakkathu meeha [handyman],’ he said. ‘I don’t know what’s in it.’Ahammmadhay went to fetch us a man more familiar with what JP wants to do for us people. The resident expert turned out to be Umar Bey [Mohamed Hameed], who used to teach in Majeediyya School and is a familiar figure to thousands, like us, of Male’ voters.

‘Can you tell us a little bit more about the pledges here?’

‘It’s pretty straightforward, is it not?’

‘Can we have a copy of the full manifesto?’

‘I don’t have it. To be honest, I haven’t seen it yet.’

‘It does exist? You have one?’

‘Yes, there’s a big manifesto, it’s printed and everything.’

‘So where is it?’

‘I don’t have access to it.’

‘Who does?’

Umar Bey summoned another person who confirmed there is a manifesto the party can give us, but ‘not right now.’ He asked us to come back another time.

We continued our conversation with Umar Bey.

‘There’s a manifesto published on Scribd by Hassan Saeed, promoted on his FB page. What’s that about?’

‘Haha. That’s not a JP manifesto. That’s Hassan Saeed’s.’

‘Oh? Hassan Saeed has a different manifesto?’

‘He must do. I haven’t seen it.’

We had. A few days ago it appeared on running mate Hassan Saeed’s Face Book page.

The summary we got last night is a summary of Hassan Saeed’s manifesto on Scribd: build an Islamic state where religion, together with nationalism — taught as a subject in the national curriculum — will inform all socio-political and juridical decisions and conduct of society and individuals. It also speaks of ‘maintaining’ this traditional Islamic state, as if this is not an imagined place yet to be created but the way we have always lived.

I wonder how many people intending to vote for Gasim Ibrahim know the Maldives they are voting for.

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6 thoughts on “Comment: A Jumhoree Maldives?”

  1. Some revealing information. Thank you Azra. However, the lack of any clear direction from the party is to be expected. Gasim and Hassan Saeed just want to be in the government- ideally in charge of it.
    Gasim-because he has never outgrown the poor boy's syndrome. He may own millions (or not!) but his real self esteem and world view is shaped in the servants' quarters of his previous masters.This is not an insult to his poor beginnings. I don't give toss about where people come from.It is the lack growth that worries me. He thinks that money can buy anthing, including respect!
    Hassan Saeed- is the exact opposite. He is intelligent and arrogant. He really cannot commit to any ideology that recognises the rights of others. He is a nowhere man on a pilgrimage of self aggrandisement.

    They both deserve each other. But more importantly,if they end up as the leaders of this nation though a fair system of voting- the people deserve what they get.

  2. When the Maldives became a Republic after abolishing the monarchy, nothing really changed - the same old clans of the Male' aristocracy kept jostling for power, the mullahs at the pandiyaaruge and mosques controlled action/thought, and the government was still a centralised family business. Little has changed today except that the mullahs have risen in power thanks to the Arab imperialists taking over. Now we have this explosive mix of religion and politics masquerading as a republicanism. LOL. It'll be fun to see Gasim close down the Islamic University after its graduates start bombing his resorts.

  3. what does this report gives you . It gives nothing ?

    JP had a manifesto and they do not need to give it to Azra knowing she is MDP activists and will be looking for any grammatical and typing errors, instead of looking into the contents .

    Even this article proves that the whole purpose of she going there is to try to defame Gaasim.

    Nasheed Ebburun fail.

  4. I must have missed the point the author is making here. Nevertheless, I agree that all parties, except MDP, have been slow to publish their manifestos, and generally not well prepared for the election campaign.

    But that's besides the point. I don't see any issue with emphasizing on Islam and Nationalism (even though I disagree that it's the main focus of their manifesto), both of which are key to unity and stability of our nation. While it's true that Islam and Nationalism are often incompatible, it is hard to imagine a nation state without any symbolic form of nationalism.

    Maldives is a country that claims to be made up of only Sunni Muslims, hence, it makes sense to teach Islam and to form Islamic universities and other forms of Islamic institutions. I believe majority of the voters will not dispute this fact.

    So on face value, I see nothing wrong with JP's manifesto. For that matter I don't see anything particularly wrong with MDP's manifesto. In fact, I think majority of the population are content with the promises made by the candidates.

    The issue is then not the manifesto, but rather the implementation of it. In this regard, the manifesto itself is irrelevant. In Maldivian politics, I see the manifesto as a form of bribery, not too different from buying votes. What we need is a president who will be true to their manifesto.

  5. To be fair I read the JP manifesto online a week a go through a link in Burma Gasims FB page.

    I thought a lot the policies outlined were very vague on how it would be implemented rather than the MDP manifesto. Some policies were outright fantastical dreams considering the state of the economy.

    One other very useless expenditure would be establishing a all Arabic medium university, I don't see the use in teaching all curriculum in Arabic while the Arabs themselves are seeking education in the current language of global academics and commerce.

  6. Gasim is already running education institutions and as far as I know they aren't teaching 'Arab Islam learning'. And he has sponsored many western educated maldivians. He knows these skills are required. Islam will obviously be taught in Maldivian schools but I don't believe religion will be taking over the education sector if gasim wins the election.


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