Sunday, November 14, 2004

UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: GO GO LATHEEF PART II

In 1978 when President Gayyoom came to power Go Go Latheef occupied himself travelling between Singapore, Colombo and Male’. His main business was smuggling. Smuggling goods from one country to another was a typical method of earning some extra cash for seamen. They would buy some products from one port and sell it at a higher price at another port. Go Go Latheef also had strong connections with the Endherimaage family. Apparently Latheef and his brother Dr. Abdul Samad Abdullah stayed at Endherimaage when they were younger. Latheef got on well with the Endherimaage ladies. But even during those times he did not get on too well with Mr. Abbas Ibrahim. It is said that Latheef got to know President Gayyoom on a personal basis, and often conversed with him in the relaxed family environment in Endherimaage.

Latheef had the opportunity to befriend the Endherimaage family due to his parents’ connections with them when they were alive. At the time it was rumoured that President Gayyoom even wanted him to join the government. He was offered a number of jobs, mostly jobs in the field of commerce, including a job in S.T.O. Somehow it did not materialise, possibly because of the difference in demands from both sides.

Go Go Latheef also kept in touch with his former school mates from Sosun Villa (the Maldivian government hostel for students in Sri Lanka). Amongst his colleagues, Ahmed Zahir (the current Speaker of the Majlis) was publishing "Hafthaa" at the time, and later on Husney Mohamed, Mohamed Farooq (who was not in Sosun Villa but one of their colleagues interested in journalism), Go Go Latheef and Ahmed Zahir published "Dhuvas". Jesus Afeef acted as a correspondent for these young journalists. The paper covered politics and a lot of other aspects. Poor Jesus Afeef (the current MP for Thaa Atoll and one of the Special Majlis walkouts) was banished for an article he published which apparently lacked facts. However, "Dhuvas" was short lived not due to the type of materials that it published, but due to time, financial and management constraints. It was never able to make the mark it desired in the Maldivian community. That was the end of Latheef's interest for journalism.Latheef used to be a smooth talker. His speciality was gassing – all talk and no action! Latheef tried to get involved in politics, as many of his school friends and hostel friends abroad were into Maldivian politics. People like Ahmed Zahir and Husney Mohamed were close friends of Latheef. Both Ahmed Zahir and Latheef hail from the same atoll. Both of them left the atoll at a very tender age. Ahmed Zahir became an MP for the atoll. Latheef won a seat for the atoll with Ahmed Zahir during the early 1990s. As mentioned in part I of this article, he could not handle the pressure in parliament. When he was in Parliament, the members had newly attained their Parliamentary immunity.

There was a free flow of ideas, criticisms, challenges and even questioning the speaker on the way he conducted the sessions. Nobody was saved of challenges.For budding politicians, in a democracy parliament is the spring board to jump high for a political life. It is on this floor when you expose yourself to the people and other leaders, by voicing your ideas and opinions of governing the nation, and the way to reach your goals. This is why parliament is so important for the capable politicians. Many made their mark in the Maldivian parliament even after President Gayyoom came to power. You get recognition for what you are worth in parliament. You do not have to hail from Endherimaage or Kaamineege or be an employee of SHE. You only have to look at the lives of a handful of MPs to see this. For instance, take Jesus Afeef (who by the way acquired that name because he bore some resemblance to Jesus Christ). Afeef may be a member of the MDP and one of the MPs to stage the walkout. However, he has not gone by unrecognised for his values and opinions in politics. So far, Afeef has been far more tactful than Go Go Latheef in dealing with the sensitive issues in the Maldives. Or how about Mohamed Shihab or Husney Mohamed? Look at Ahmed Zahir. All these people began their careers together. They did not have any special privileges. They certainly were not sycophants. They were not boot lickers. They got the recognitions through their hard work in parliament.

Why didn't Latheef get it? The answer is simple. He is not a leader. He is just an ordinary businessman whose speciality is smuggling. Of course he made many people rich through his businesses, such as former MP Thinadu Rashad, who owns quite a few shops in Male’. Go Go Latheef married his wife, Wafiyya, without her father’s permission. His father-in-law, the late Mr. Ali Najeeb felt that he was a weird character, who did not live up to their standards. He felt that his eldest daughter should have her priorities on completing her education from Aminiya School. However, Latheef had other ideas. He felt that he might lose her if he waited. As it turned out she was pregnant carrying his baby. In order to escape from the law, and save the family from embarrassment, Latheef married Wafiyya. When Wafiyya’s due date was approaching, they felt that the delivery in Male' was too risky. They ended up in a boat to escape from Male’. The baby was delivered at sea. That is how Jennifer saw the world.

Her first glimpse of the world was while her parents were on the run from the law. (Apologies to Latheef if he is reading this, but from the way you have been ranting and raving, surely you must have known that this would have eventually come out?) History repeats itself. Jennifer appears to be following her parents. Latheef’s son landed himself in a scandal by getting married to an under-aged girl in Sri Lanka. They lived in Sri Lanka until she was of age and returned to Male’ to solemnise their marriage. Latheef’s son was just short of being branded a paedophile. The point here is that while DO/MDP delights themselves by reporting scandals on personal lives of certain government officials (and in the case of no scandals, by fabricating stories), they only have to look at their own people for ignominious records. President Gayyoom was kind enough to give Go Go Latheef two tourist resorts, namely, Rannalhi and Bathalaa. He used the legitimate income from these resorts to support his more dubious side businesses.

Even today he collects rent from the lease holders of these resorts. Due to his decent tourism earnings, Latheef was able to provide the best education possible for his children from the likes of Hollywood and Switzerland. Today, this nasty unpatriotic man is trying to deprive many Maldivians from their simple livelihood - tourism. Boycotting tourism won’t have any effects on the business tycoons, the ministers and President Gayyoom. However, it would affect the average Maldivian who relies on their meagre salaries. Everything in our economy relies on tourism. Government services could deteriorate (the kind of services that we take for granted at the moment). It would affect health services. It would affect education projects. It would affect all types of businesses.

It would even affect the price of an onion! These power hungry megalomaniacs want nothing but the Maldivian wealth, namely tourism, for themselves. Their behaviour could be likened to a bunch of small children with their favourite toys, which they would rather destroy than give anyone else. Go Go Latheef criticises others for their lack of democratic norms. But does he have any? Under what kind of a democracy does he get the freedom to write whatever he desires or what his stooges want, on the senior civil servants of the Maldives? Which democracy gives them the right to distort facts and spin lies? To the average Maldivian, democracy may bring about wholly new concepts, but what gives Latheef and DO/MDP the right to mislead Maldivian citizens? At this stage, not too many Maldivians understand the meaning of freedom of speech. DO flourishes daily on market gossip.

Latheef himself revels in conjecture. This is not freedom of speech! This is not contributing in any way to any reform that would ever take place in the Maldives! Latheef was shameless in joining the Christian missionaries to reach his goal. Buruma Gasim may be a wealthy man, but could he support his puppets as well as air space for a radio show that lasts an hour? A few minutes of advertisement on the radio could easily cost hundreds and thousands of dollars. We are all craving for proper reform in the government.

But do Latheef and his goons expect to receive a warm welcome in the Maldives after attempts to destroy our fragile economy? MDP and these “Friends of Maldives” could appropriately be titled as “Enemies of the Nation”. Would readers regard Latheef and his associates as fit to rule? Would you regard them as fit to advocate for our rights? For a country that is predominantly Moslem and holds Moslem values, can these guys bring us what we want? Will they be genuine in their “promises” when they happen to be hypocrites?

1 Comments:

At June 21, 2008 at 1:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

fuck you

 

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