Maldivian Development Alliance (MDA) interim Leader and tourism magnate MP Ahmed ‘Sun Travel’ Shiyam has pledged during a campaign to boost his party’s membership that he will build pre-schools on the islands of Landhoo and Fodhdhoo in Noonu Atoll.
Shiyam’s Sun Online news service reported today that he had promised that the foundations for at least one of the pre-school buildings was expected to be laid during the year.
Addressing the pledge today, a senior MDA member told Minivan News that all funding for the proposed school buildings would be provided by Shiyam himself in a “personal capacity”, adding that the decision was not politically motivated, but rather a service to the public.
Shiyam’s campaigning for the recently formed MDA follows the passing of a new bill in parliament requiring political parties in the country to have a minimum of 10,000 registered members.
Should the bill be signed into law, parties without the sufficient number of members would be given three months to meet the target or face being dissolved.
During campaigning yesterday, Shiyam said that despite Fodhdhoo being small in terms of population, all islands – regardless of their size – were entitled to fundamental rights.
“You are like any other people. You as well deserve the fundamental rights that the rest of the people enjoy. I will do whatever I can to ensure that fact stays that way,” he was reported as saying.
During a rally held later the same day on Landhoo Island, Shiyam said that the development of the nation required educated young people to come forth, adding that the country had fallen into a grave state due to a lack of honest political leaders.
“Those who come to power need to have a very strong understanding of the public sentiments and should have the quality to respect the views of the people. Leaders who lie and deceive should never come in front of the people,” he claimed.
Speaking to Minivan News today, MDA Deputy Leader Ali Mauroof claimed that the party was “receiving immense support” from Noonu Atoll and expressed confidence in reaching the 10,000 member limit as stipulated in the newly passed political parties bill.
“Noonu Atoll is the native Atoll of both me and our leader [Shiyam], so we are receiving immense support from the islands. You would know about this support if you see our Sun Online [news service]. We believe we could get 90 percent of the entire population of the Atoll,” he said.
Asked about the immediate aims of the MDA, Mauroof said that the party’s first target was to attain 10,000 members. He claimed the MDA’s longer-term strategy was to become the “largest political party” in the country.
Mauroof also criticised the recently passed political parties’ bill, dismissing it as an attempt to “destroy” smaller political parties.
“The reality is that in a democracy, you would not see bills made to destroy smaller political parties. There are democracies which allow hundreds of political parties. That is what democracy is,” he said.
Mauroof also claimed that Shiyam’s pledge to build two pre-schools in Noonu Atoll had been made in a “personal capacity” rather than directly through the MDA.
“Our leader was the one who advocated for providing pre-schooling facilities in the islands. It was his proposed bill on pre-schools that were passed into legislation by the parliament and currently being enforced. This is not something new too. Our leader has built pre-schools in Dhaalu Atoll as well,” he explained.
He added that Shiyam was building pre-schools not as a “political motive” but as a social responsibility to “contribute to society”.
“We did not condition anyone to join the party. We did not give any reward or pay anybody to join the party. People are joining us willingly and voluntarily. Even the pre-schools are not built under the name of MDA,” he added.
“Not a cult-party”: MDA
Deputy Leader Mauroof also claimed that the MDA would display the “best internal democracy within the party” by adhering to democratic and transparent principles and best practices, adding that there would be no grounds to call them a “cult party”.
“We have our own party charter. Everything will be done in accordance with the party charter. This party will host the best internal democracy within the party. We would not have spiritual leaders,” he said.
Mauroof added that all decisions by the MDA were expected to be made by the party’s council, which he claimed would ultimately decide on its future political alignment.
“We are not enemies of any political party. We can work with any party for interests of the country. However, the decision to field or support a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections and making coalitions would be decided by the party’s council at the most appropriate time,” he added.
Mauroof added that their policies would reflect the needs of the people and their betterment.
“We will be a party that will work on strengthening democracy, bringing development and prosperity to the country,” he added.
MDA was officially given the permission to establish itself as a political party on June last year by the elections commission. The party officially held its inaugural convention on December 10, 2012. It was at this convention where the party elected Shiyam as its interim leader along with appointing other key leadership positions.
The tourism magnate was elected interim leader with 335 votes out of 362 ballots cast.
According to Shiyam’s Sun Online news website, 362 members attended the meeting at Traders Hotel, which was authorised to proceed by the Elections Commission after it had verified the attendance registry.
Under the regulations governing political parties’ which is still in force, at least 300 members are required to attend an inaugural convention of a newly-formed political party, while 3,000 signatures are needed to form the party.
The MDA becomes the 16th political party to be registered in the Maldives since 2005.