Sunday, September 28, 2008

Whose agenda is it anyway?

“Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it.” –Malcolm X (1925 - 1965)

"The reform agenda is mine," President Gayoom pronounced to his rivals on TVM's Riyasee Suvaalu program. Technically speaking, if he was merely referring to the "Reform Agenda" he announced on 9 June 2004, he would be right. But if he was referring to the whole reform movement that is in motion since 2003, that's a different story altogether.

Probably even Gayoom himself wouldn't go so far as to claim the entire reform movement as his own. Had that been the case ironically there would have been no need to announce the 'Reform Agenda' in 2004, as the agenda would then have started and progressed incrementally since 1978. So obviously there were others besides him who triggered the movement that culminated in the ratification of the Constitution on August 7. Who were they and what were their roles?

First wave of reform

With fresh faces elected to the Majlis in 1989, including Dr. Waheed, Gogo Latheef and Modi, new ideas took the Majlis by storm. Press freedom reached new heights simultaneously with the launching of three political magazines. The new found freedom was short lived, however. With the help of the infamous Bimbi Force, the movement was crushed and reformist MPs were evicted from the Majlis.

Mohamed Shafeeg (Editor) and Mohamed Nasheed (Anni) of 'Sangu' were charged and sentenced. So were the writers of Hukuru: Mohamed Saeed Moosa Wajdee, Mohamed Jaleel, Ahmed Waheed Ali, and Ahmed Fayaz Hassan.

Second wave

The second wave of reform started in the late 90s during the debates on Vision 2020. These debates marked a watershed in the reform process because it was the first time participants could openly criticize government policies in an official setting. This wave reached its climax in 2001 when a group of 43 intellectuals and professionals submitted a proposal for registering a political party. The group included names like Rado Zahir, Mujthaba, Qasim, Anni, Suood, Hathifushi Shakir, Hassan Afeef, Naushad Waheed, Alia Ali Abdulla, Ilyas Hussein, Maizan Hassan Maniku, Ahmed Muiz, Husna Razee, Abdullah Zameer, Zahiya Zareer, Mahmood Razi and Ali Faiz among others. The movement reached a dead end when the government on the advice of Attorney General Munavvar decided that the Constitution was not compatible with political parties.

Some significant events of the period included:

  • The arrest and sentencing of Male MP Mohammed Nasheed on dubious charges;

  • The launching of the internet magazine Sandhaanu and the ultimate arrest of Nazaki Zaki and Ibrahim Lutfee who ran the magazine.

Third Wave

Without any doubt the third and current wave of reform was heralded by the death of Evan Naseem in Maafushi prison in September 2003 and the shootings that followed. The massive outcry and the spontaneous demonstrations on the streets of Male changed the Maldives forever. Unlike its predecessors, the third wave of reform could not be stopped because of reasons including the following:

  • The role of Mohammed Nasheed (Anni)'s charismatic leadership and unwavering commitment in mobilizing the young generation as agents of change;

  • Successful formation of a political party, MDP, by a group of reformists spearheaded by Anni and Gogo Latheef;

  • The effectiveness of Ahmed Shafeeq (Sappe)'s Dhivehi-Observer in communicating anti Gayoom messages to a broad Maldivian audience, thereby denting his media created image;

  • Ibrahim Hussein Zaki, Latheef and Anni's success in bringing the reform movement to the attention of the international community, and the resulting pressure from that quarter;

  • President Gayoom's launching of the 9th June Reform Agenda, which put pressure on the government to stick to its timeline;

  • The New Maldives movement, which brought reforms from within the government including Hassan Saeed's landmark ruling on political parties and accession to major international human rights conventions;

  • Male Member Ibrahim Ismail's role in incorporating principles of liberal democracy into the draft Constitution;

  • The effectiveness of opposition MPs including Afeef, Ibra, Reeko Moosa, Monaza Naeem, Suood, Ali Waheed, Sanco Shareef and others in articulating reforms on the Majlis floor;

  • Qasim Ibrahim's leadership in steering the work of the Special Majlis to a fruitful conclusion;

  • The willingness of the DRP majority in the Majlis to pass the reforms;

  • Information Minister Nasheed's role in introducing a degree of media freedom;

  • And above all, the resolve of ordinary Maldivians who within just five short years have become the most politically mature people in South Asia.

Author's note: In any list of honors, certain names inadvertently get left out. So let me apologize to them in advance. Let me also acknowledge the large number of people who wrote personal letters to President Gayoom urging him to launch reforms long before people poured out onto the streets and set the juggernaut rolling, letters that would haunt him as constant reminders of what could have been.


ali said...

waheed, this s a real n true,. i observer reform movement after 1999, these r the points i have written. unfortunatly m not in maldives ryt now. m abroad for stuydin law,. i read these blogs n website gain information abt current situation maldives. Thanks waheed and all writes who write a balance / truth.......

Steps said...

Very balanced and analytical article.

Islander said...

Dr Waheed, Do you by any chance happen to have access to any of the letters that the people sent to Gayyoom. It would be nice if you could post them here.

Any by the way, your approach to assessing things in a balanced way are much appreciated - even though I may not always agreed with thenm

Anonymous said...

You have missed some of the important meetings and events in the” First Wave”. You have not mentioned 1989 National Level Consultation meetings (some very critical) on National Development Plan held in October 1989 for almost a week including developing of Villigili as part of Male’, I remember you were presented and Anni was representing Transport Ministry.

You also have not mention the work of Journalists involved with Thomson Foundation training and their attempts to “come out of the shell”.

You have missed the attempt to form a political party by Koli Hassan Maniku, Anni, Kalhu Huraa Latheef and Dhethadimaage Sheefeegu.

Anonymous said...

quite nice to see you writing balanced articles after praising the so-called philanthropy of Gasim Ibrahim. You have portrayed so many 'heroes' in this article but to me the real heroes are the Maldivian people who stood for hours on Republican Square on August 12, 13 (2004), and the people who gathered on streets and demonstrated on every possible occasion demanding change. you have said that hassan saeed gave a ruling allowing political parties. but lets not forget that it was international pressure that forced gayoom to allow political parties. hassan saeed was merely finding a legal excuse for allowing parties under the orders of gayoom just as munavvar was finding legal loopholes to ban parties on the previous occasion because he wanted to please gayoom. it also bothers me that you are a deputy minister in a torturer's cabinet.

Anonymous said...

Believe me, if it wasn't for the prison deaths of 2003 Maumoon would not have even though about any reform. He knen that he could no longer wait even if he liked to delay the reform process. So this was sort of imposed reform, not proposed reform.

Anonymous said...

We sure like balanced articles like last anony .From anonys comment it appears if your article supports Burumaa it cannot be balanced.Seems like it has to support a particular person for it to be balanced.!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Dr. waheed y don't u mentioned about the proposal to register a political party, i think it was in early 90's Anni and kalhuhuraage kommeves meehaka ekee!

Anonymous said...

The article is informative, if not for little things here and there. Most significantly what I noticed was stating Dr. Hassan as the AG who gave green signal for parties. I do not think that its true, its Qayyoom's say and Hassan Saeed as AG sealed it. Sometimes I doubt what Reform is when people say that the reform is achieved. I see reform as a living thing, it should be always there. And Maldivians should not tolerate any subjugation be it economic or political.. Whatever happened in the past is the result of up gradation of knowledge base of Maldives. People are educated and more informed...

Anonymous said...

I wonder what happened to the Aeform Agenda during the following 2 periods namely,

(I) early mid-1990 (Sangu was banned in May 1990--1990 also was Minivan Fansavees)to 1993

(II) 1993 (Ilyas challenged unsuccessfully to Gayyoom at fled to Thailand) and 1999 (Anni was elected MP for male)

Period I

The Reform Movement was given serious warnings from the Gunners. Printing press chiefs were summoned warned not to support any form of political activity by non-ruling family initiations. All non-ruling family initiations were predominantly Anni's activities.

Ilyas siezed this opportunity and started work on his bid to power. Yameen also did the same.

Period II

Anni's activities were largely low profile but HIGLY substantial abd effective. Arif Hilmy's economic policies (1993-1999) were a blessing in disguise for Gayyoom.

This was the begining of Sandhaanu activities.

Anni was elected as MP for Male in 1999.

Those were my recollection of what happened during that time, and you have missed that period. I think that period which actually ignited the real reform movement which is bearing its fruits today. Anni's election to Majilis was a major milestone.

Can you shed some light on this period?

Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

Its good to find an analytical summary like this. Your recent posts are great work. However, as in all other posts I keep seeing, you have mentioned mostly Anni's name (and in one instance GoGo latheef) in crediting the formation of political parties and starting up mdp. If you are looking at this from the angle of portraying information about the presidental candidates, then it will onle be fair to mention Ibra's name in all the past work done by Anni starting from the time when Anni was elected as a Parliament member. Though Ibra was never on the forefront he always worked side by side in Anni in planning and executing all such reform work.

Anonymous said...

So Dr.Munavvar is right on his assessments on first wave, the country is not ready for multi party system, without proper constitution. I guess if we have listened, the country would have been better place by now.

Anonymous said...

I want to add two more was a very important factor in the third wave. Those who dedicated their time to the reform process were generously financed by the business community and unlike before there were more young people on heroine..

Anonymous said...

You have missed a lot. People like Mohamed Shihab, Hassan Afeef and Mavota Shareef were planning to bring reform long time back. But they always got out shouted and outvoted in the Majlis.

Anonymous said...

Riyasee Hit Singles

1. “Dhon dhon Saeed ey beynumee beynumee…”
2. “Ey Maumun araashey javva fazaage usminah…”
3. “Dheyshey dheyshey Gasim…ah mi gaumuge hurihaa echcheh…”
4. “Fun kanduga fethenee umarrr…”
5. “Ibra…oh my Ibra…”
6. No such singles about Anni is available.

Anonymous said...

i don't understand why people are trying to credit the introduction of political parties to maumoon.

if it had been for him, maumoon would not have given any rights to us.

i think quite clearly for the first time in maldives political parties were sanctioned at the legal advice of dr.hassan saeed. we have to give him creidt for that. its not the president's job to give legal advice to himself. r.hassan is a much more educated person than maumoon. so he does not have to listen to maumoon to give a legal advice. the best. believe it or not. he is the only one in a position to bring together a nation in havoc. maldives cannot be governed by DRP/MDP or even jumhooree party.
all parties have to work together, but not like maumoon appointing his bro yameen as tourism minister.

Anonymous said...

You are analyses were very much base on to give credits to your (friends) favorites whom you would like to portray them as reformist hero’s, or else you would not only have mentioned bringing reform movement to international community only to 3 people, either you are miss informed or purposely you don’t want to give credit to real people who is behind.
Further you would not have given credit to New Maldives as a person who has experienced a planned corruption project which you have been dealing personnel! Or have you also been promised for a stake?
Don’t fool our future generation by portraying base on your wish, if you write then write been faithful for the present and future generation

Anonymous said...

Thaks for the great article and history about the reform.

You have mentioned a list of people who deserve credit for bringing the reform.

How about a list people who opposed and threatened the reform process. A shame list or something. It would be great if you could analyze from that angle as well.

I think that's important as well. What would have been the cause if Fathulla Jameel, Abdulla Hameed etc were not forced to resign. There may be others, powerful people who were force out of office to pave the way for the reforms.

Anonymous said...

Dr Waheed, you have very beautifully analysed the waves of reform in this country. Reform was not introduced by Gayoom. It was the result of hard work and sacrifices of many people. But the reform is now becoming a nonevent with Gayoom grabbing more power than ever to have total control over everything in this country. Just imagine how the Majlis have approved the Judiciary and independent commissions. I think it is because we have been forced to introduce party system before we are ready for it with a proper legislation. Dr. Munavvar was the only person who foresaw this catastrphe. Now it is too late. Gayoom looks like to win, that is why Yamin has accepted to become Tourism Minister. Things seem to be changing and people are exchanging SMS messages they don't want a new moon, they want Maumoon. Serves it right for the greed and selfishness of the reformist leaders.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Do you have any wisdom or fanditha which will help to get rid of this monster from our country. Please for God's sake do something to save the suffering and helpless people from the tyranny and oppression of Gayoom. Can you send a letter to UN Secretary General telling how this man is robbing from us our country and our freedom.

Anonymous said...

This is a very well balanced, well written artiacle. Brief and to the point. The informative comments enhances the artiacle positively. Well done and keep it up.

Moosa Anwar said...

Excellent analysis. keep blogging. btw ANEH fithuru eid ge thahaany aris kuran.