The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has hit out at the Commonwealth over the work of Singaporean Judge G.P. Selvam, whose initial draft report on the Committee of National Inquiry’s (CNI) findings was yesterday denounced by the opposition party.
The criticism, backed by an MDP resolution, was first raised by former President Nasheed’s representative on the CNI panel, Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed.
“I think it is embarrassing for the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG). This is a bad show – it is not worthy of such an institution,” said MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.
After concerted pressure from the Commonwealth and the MDP to reform the CNI, Selvam – a retired Supreme Court Judge from Singapore – was installed as co-chair of the body charged with investigating the events surrounding former President Nasheed’s resignation on February 7.
The Commonwealth’s Special Envoy to the Maldives, Sir Donald McKinnon, released a statement today regarding the report’s scheduled publication on August 30.
“I look forward to the imminent completion of the work of the reconstituted Commission of National Inquiry and to its being able to agree on its report. As we approach the release of that report, I would encourage all stakeholders to respect the commission’s findings, and to take time to reflect carefully on how to act upon them in a manner that maintains harmony in Maldivian society and helps strengthen democratic practice and institutions in the country,” he said.
The changes to the commission also included the addition of a Nasheed nominee Saeed, who yesterday revealed his deep dissatisfaction with Selvam’s initial draft of the body’s report.
“The report that Judge Selvam has drafted and brought is a draft that somewhat refutes or denies what we Maldivians saw and experienced – or a draft that somewhat confuses things, the way it is now,” Saeed told the press.
“While this is happening, for me to stay here, at Muleeage, would I believe be a betrayal of my country and the Maldivian people. I see the draft report as having been written without considering the witness testimony of many, many people to CNI as well as the many scenes we saw,” he added.
Ghafoor, who today described the situation as “unacceptable” and “embarrassing” for the Commonwealth, suggested that Sir Donald McKinnon ought to be asked “who the hell this guy [Selvam] is.”
“Mr Selvam’s integrity is at a critical level,” he claimed. “Yesterday he got caught out.”
McKinnon’s statement today acknowledged that many issues would undoubtedly arise after the report’s release.
“I encourage political leaders to increase their efforts towards engaging in genuine dialogue, in order that consensus may be achieved, in a constructive and peaceful manner, on the path forward,” said McKinnon.
Meanwhile, local television station Raajje TV – linked closely with the MDP – yesterday aired a video of Singaporean-born lawyer and long-time critic of Judge Selvam, Gopalan Nair, in which he describes Selvam as a man “totally devoid of integrity”.
Nair has been writing about Judge Selvam on his ‘Singapore Dissident’ blog since 2010.
Moreover, in January this year, Malaysian media reported that Judge Selvam was accused of lying by chairman of the Malaysian Democratic Action Party (DAP), Karpal Singh.
Singh accused the retired justice of “lying to clear the air on an alleged plagiarism case involving a Malaysian Court of Appeal judge.”
A letter from Selvam to the Malaysian Chief Justice, clarifying that there was no case for plagiarism against the court of appeal judge, reportedly contradicted a statement from Selvam published in the Singaporean Straits Time.
Selvam was quoted as saying that the Malaysian judge had obtained a copy of his judgement through a lawyer, and “copied chunks from me without acknowledging”.
Meanwhile, MDP MP Mohamed Shifaz was also reported in local media as labeling Selvam “Singapore’s Abdullah” in reference to Maldivian Criminal Court Chief Judge Abdullah Mohamed, whose controversial detention earlier this year by the military has been the subject of investigations by numerous independent institutions.
Abdullah was arrested in January, with the former Home Minister Hassan Afeef accusing the judge of having “taken the entire criminal justice system in his fist”.
The incident proved to be a major turning point in anti-government protests against the Nasheed administration, leading to sustained periods of unrest in the run up to the former President’s resignation on February 7.
However, President’s Office spokesman Masood Imad was dismissive of attacks on Selvam’s credibility.
“Selvam is a man of stature chosen by the Commonwealth,” said Masood, who also criticised Saeed’s outburst as “lacking professionalism”.
Masood noted that both Selvam and Saeed had been added to the commission at the MDP’s request.
The MDP’s National Council, yesterday evening, unanimously backed a resolution refusing to accept the report in its current format.
In the evening, the MDP recommenced its campaign of protests, which had been suspended for the final period of Ramazan in order to encourage political negotiations.
In response to questions over rising tension in the country, Ghafoor said that the party was not seeking confrontation.
“We are demanding two things – early elections and an agreement on a post-CNI scenario,” he said.
The MDP forwarded a list of suggested outcomes to the government earlier in the month to which the President’s Office responded that it would not discuss the findings until their official release on August 29.
Ghafoor accused President Waheed of “cunningly destabilising the country” by refusing to make arrangements for the report’s release.
He also said that the party remained hopeful that the commission’s final report would reflect its opinion that President Nasheed was removed in a coup.