Sunday, November 14, 2004

No Amount of Democracy will bring MDP to power


Let us face it. Dissidents are exiled in Colombo and London not because there is no democracy in Maldives . It is because they have no space in our society-at least, not as men and women of integrity, respect, and honesty.

Many of these people have been social misfits for years before they became political dissidents. And they are thriving today on a younger generation of social outcasts-the yobbos that we call "partey" (which by the way is a corruption for "partner".)

Latheef had always been a social misfit, the result of the tragedy that befell his family as a result of a British-fomented secessionist rebellion in Suvadiva from 1959-63. Reputed for being an alcoholic who did eccentric things in a traditional Muslim society, there was mutual rejection between Latheef and society. Never a man of much moderation, naturally, Latheef kicked the bottle and took up Wahhabism, or fundamentalist Islam. He may be too ill-disciplined to follow the devotional rituals that a "haabie" follows, but he has retained the political ideology and the crusading mentality of the habbies.

It would take decades before a habbie was embraced as a mainstream politician in this country, especially in an age of satellite Television and proliferation of western graduates.

Of course, Latheef having punched and kicked his old friend Ahmed Zahir, MP just outside the Parliament building in December 2000 does not improve his image as a politician. His recent outbursts in the media, calling President Gayoom a "congenital liar" and a "brute" in a BBC interview, and calling people in the Maldives "animals and dogs" and the President a "sadistic animal" and trying to puke in an interview with has not helped improve the way society views him.

Of course, radicals like Che Guevara carry an aura of mysticism and romance that have earned them international reputation. Likewise, foreign diplomats in Colombo , desperate to find even one Maldivian who would want to reject the dominance of Islam in the country, have been drawn to aid and abetting Latheef.

These interfering diplomats are yet to learn that a pathological hatred of President Gayoom does not translate to alternative political leadership or vision. Just as a person who articulated a pathological hatred for George Washington, calling him a sadistic animal, a congenital liar, and brute, would not have been offered to succeed the Father of America.
Nor would the British even dream of handing over No 10 Downing Street to some hooligan who calls Blair a "brute" "congenital liar", "sadistic animal," "dog" and pukes in an interview, after Blair retires.

Why should the people of this country not have the right to choose our own leader from the ranks of respectable people? Why do foreigners insist on imposing on us the likes of Latheef, Sappe and Anni?

What people forget is that President Gayoom enjoys the status of "father of modern Maldives." Personal insults on him, a rejection of his successes, and a campaign to vilify him would earn little support in a country that has gone from rags to riches in just two decades. His successor would be not be a venom­breather, but someone who could fill his shoes with dignity. We are also a nation. We have happy families. We have thriving businesses. The people have a positive outlook. In such a situation, only a decent man or woman can succeed a man as decent as President Gayoom.

Such a person does not exist in the ranks of the dissidents. In their deluded analysis which holds that the country is being "brutalized", and in their eagerness to embrace that view regardless of the facts, they forget that we are an upbeat country whose people will not handover their future to a bunch of "parteys" or to eccentric dissidents out on a personal vendetta. This country has 87 resorts. Soon that number will become one hundred. We have the potential to become a very rich nation. That is a future that every rational person in this country will want to protect and place in safe hands.

Che's "Mini-manual on Revolution" may be alluring read for the dissidents. But we have not yet become Fanon's "the wretched of the earth". But hobnobbing with parteys, the dissidents may not notice that.

Apart from Latheef, who else is there? Not one person who has any reputable social standing. Gasim is a super businessman. But his wealth was handed over to him by people with influence. Everybody knows that with over 80 million dollars in debt, Gasim can only survive as a businessman by taking more loans or getting some written-off or by getting a permanent lease on his resorts at low rents. Not everybody may yet have woken up to the unsustainable basis of Gasim's debts and that his interests ultimately are diametrically opposed to those of society at large, but we all know that he would not give up his wealth for political office. He wants a sympathetic government to ward of his impending financial meltdown, not to give up business and run the country.

Zaki and Munavvar were removed from office because the public would not have them even in the Gayoom cabinet. They had become so unpopular that MDP would not even elect Munavvar as a Councillor, and Zaki was shouted down by MDP persons in the town meetings in June and July. In fact, they were so certain of losing their re-election bid in the parliamentary elections scheduled for this year, they did not hesitate to spend nearly 10 hours in the Jumhoree Maidhan on 12-13 August, in the company of some 200 drug parteys and Fareed's band of religious extremists, exposing themselves to arrest and being charged under the Criminal Code.
Who else is there? Anni? He is scion of the Sikka family who has opposed every government in this country through violent means, including funding the invasion of Maldives by Tamil mercenaries in 1988, resulting in the loss of some 50 lives.

Mujuthaba? He is a signatory of the MDP petition in 2001. His pedigree is certainly impeccable. People also believe that he has magical powers and can walk on water. Whatever the truth about his presumed magical powers, he is decidedly short on commitment and tenacity, having resigned from parliament in just a matter of months. Besides, what has he done in the past 30 years?

This therefore leaves us with David Hardingham. I think if MDP is to run this country, they would have to be led either by the British High Commission of the Friends of Maldives. That is because no amount of democracy, transparency, election funding or monitors will cause the people of this country to hand over the reins of this country to Gogo Latheef, Buruma Gasim, Zaki, Munavar, Anni or Mujuthaba, and other social misfits and political rejects.
So David? Do you want to start where Sir Arthington-Davey left off in 1965? Do you really think that we are cannibals?


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