This article was first published on DhivehiSitee.com. 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.’
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.
All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]