New Progress Party (NPP) had just been registered and I was at the Party headquarters to interview party leader Meedhoo Thakur. When I was ushered in to Thakur's chamber, he was counting bundles of 500 rufiyaa notes. I assumed he must have just received a grant from the Election Commissioner. I also noticed a few car catalogues on Thakur's table, but resisted the temptation to ask Thakur about it. That was not the topic of the interview and besides, who was I to question how a party leader spent his funds? Thakur greeted me warmly and asked me to start.
"What's the purpose of NPP?" I shot the first question. Thakur looked a bit puzzled. Obviously this was a topic that had never crossed his mind. Soon however he recovered.
"We are here to serve the people," he said and added after a brief pause, "…though I'm not sure why the people are here for."
"What's your goal?" I tried a different angle.
"It's better not to have a goal," Thakur shot back. "We could then go wherever we feel and still call it a goal."
"Do you mean to say," I asked, "you won't change the direction of the present government when you come to power?"
"I didn't say that and besides we must change direction immediately," he replied, "because…because if we pursue this direction … we will reach where we are going."
"What system of government do you propose?" I changed topic.
"That's a difficult one. It all depends on the circumstances. When we are in the opposition we prefer a system like that in America. But when we are in power we prefer a system like that in North Korea."
"So you prefer the presidential system," I said, "North Korea also has a presidential system."
"Definitely not," Thakur reacted sharply, "you boys must do your homework before coming to interview senior leaders like me. North Korea does not have a president they only have a Dear Leader, which translates to 'Lobuvethi Zaeem' in Dhivehi."
"Lobuvethi Zaeem may be a nice name," I said "but how will you ensure people love you all the time?"
"I will include that in the school curriculum and also in all TV programs. If that does not work I have some less subtle methods. But let's not go in to that."
"The basis of democracy is one man one vote," I queried, "do you believe that?"
"That's not enough," Thakur said. "It should be one man one vote ONE TIME. You see, once Thakur comes to power there will be no need for any further elections."
"But Thakur," I protested. "Don't you think the people should have the power to change the government if they don't like it?"
"Certainly not." Thakur shot back. "The Majority of the people are stupid. They won't know what's good for them. Only experienced people like Thakur know what's good for the people. So the people should never have the power to change the government."
"What's your view on separation of powers?" I asked.
"A very bad idea. Haven't you heard the saying 'Unity is Strength'?
"But if there is no separation won't it lead to influence over the judiciary?" I protested.
"It won't," Thakur said. "The courts will function under my special guidance. So no one can influence them."
"What about the parliament?" I asked 'Don't you think that should be separate?"
"Parliament should also function very closely with me," Thakur replied, "without such unity it will not be possible to pass the right type of laws."
"But who will speak for the people?" I asked.
"Thakur of course. Only Thakur knows what is good for the people."
"You have already said you will not hold any presidential election after coming to power," I said "does this mean there will be no elections at all after that?"
"I didn't say that. I will hold atoll and island council elections."
"Can people vote freely for whoever they want in those elections?"
"Of course they can," Thakur replied. "In an election it's not the voters who count, it's those who count the votes who count."
"Do you mean to say you will rig the elections?" I asked.
"Not necessarily," Thakur said. "When I have all the winning cards I always play very fairly."
Finally asked my last question. "Are you prepared to face the electorate?"
"Thakur is prepared to face the people. But whether the people are prepared to face Thakur is a different question," he said. At this point I realized that I was also not prepared to face Thakur anymore. So I put off my voice recorder and left.