Friday, September 19, 2008

Election fever heating up in Huvarafushi

On approaching Huvarafushi the first thing one notices is the yellow painted walls of MDP office and the golden flag flying above in the island's azure sky. The election fever in Huvarafushi is not surprising. After all, it's the political heart of the north, in the same way Kulhudhuffushi is its commercial heart. Going back in time, the peoples of Huvarafushi and Kulhudhuffushi were the joint organizers of the historic Uthuru Arumaazu.

Going by external appearance –flags, colors, music, meetings –the MDP campaign is the strongest in the island. However, appearances can be deceptive. According to many people there is quite a brisk, albeit hidden, DRP campaign in the island. Jumhooree Party leader Qasim Ibrahim has family connections to the island through his wife, whose relatives are also active in the campaign as indicated by JP flags flying over their houses. Social Liberal Party has a relatively minor presence in the island. Despite their small numbers however, SLP contribution is significant, particularly in acting as a watchdog to prevent Civil Service members from campaigning.

Partly due to the high level of political awareness in Huvarafushi, most of the 2000 voters in the island are members of some party, though it is alleged that many of them 'joined' parties involuntarily when someone filled forms on their behalf, sometimes without their knowledge.

It is difficult to gauge how the people of Huvarafushi will vote on October 8th. But many people believe the competition for the top spot will be between MDP and DRP. Current indications are that JP will be in a distant third position. This however could change dramatically when Qasim Ibrahim visits the island, most people say. Unlike in most other islands, Hassan Saeed's support in Huvarafushi appears small.

The people of Huvarafushi have a long list of grievances, which they expect the next president will solve for them. Here are a few of them as expressed by the people:

  • The health center is ill equipped and ill staffed. People travel to Kulhudhuffhishi or Male for even minor health problems.

  • The school is staffed with reject teachers from Male. Most of them lack teaching and class-control skills;

  • The harbor, constructed some years back, has now become small and congested.

  • Apart from some government jobs, there are no employment opportunities in the island. The only significant economic activity is fisheries, which itself is in decline and has become seasonal. Two Male-based companies operate fish processing facilities in the island.

  • Unlike most high-population islands, the ground water in Huvarafushi is still relatively clean. However, most islanders believe the time has now come for laying a sewage system.

  • The STELCO operated powerhouse is one service with which the people are happy.


Anonymous said...

Did u go to Hoarafushi in your official capacity but as part of an advanced team to collect info for Gasim's visit to the island? By the way which one of his wives is from Hoarafushi? Is that the girl he married when she was 18, after giving a large boat from Kulhudhuffushi to her step father?

shafeeg said...

dear waheed, could u pls bring me an article abt Anni's latest poll result.i belive u r the 1 who bring balance view abt politics.
thanks ur hard work.
m student, stuyin law in malaysia

Anonymous said...

This is the only blog I have seen giving a fair and balance of accounts. I would appreciate if you could give us your account on aftermath of election. Dr Waheed, do you see any political instability in the country after election? like currently its DRP and JP controlling the parliament, if MDP wins an election, could they join force and take a vote of no confidence on the MDP Govt and throw them out? Like bills sent by an MDP Govt been thrown out of parliament, or MDP President veto any bills passed by parliament... In such a situation, I guess it will make people suffer due to an unstable Govt. Would like to have your views and hope to see your views on this?