Wednesday, March 18, 2009
The Age of the Stupid?
If we had a film of the legislative events of the time of Maldives’ first Constitution (circa 1932), one would be tempted to label the period as the ‘Age of the Stupid.’ A legislative committee was working overtime to produce all sorts and manners of laws, which were becoming increasingly more difficult for citizens to bear. Thoroughly fed-up with the laws, the people of Male (‘Havaru’) came out on the streets, tore the laws and banished the legislators. More than 75 years after the episode we have a new Constitution and a sense of Déjà vu is permeating the atmosphere. Another Age of the Stupid?
In 1932 the Legislative Committee drafted laws to cover ‘monumental’ issues such as fire crackers (Lonumedhu Fataas), demolishing public wells on Male waterfront, cutting trees and 40 other similar topics. Visitors to Male soon found they had no place to take a bath. Boat owners found out that they couldn’t get timber to repair their dhonis. In short, the ill conceived laws made life impossible for the people.
After 75 years, today the new Constitution has given an endless list of rights, of which criminals are taking full advantage. A labor law is creating tension in the workplace and draining the government budget. A civil service law has led to loss of job security for hundreds of public servants. An information law is putting government officials in the dilemma of being legally obliged to provide information which is not readily available.
Looking at the legislative ‘masterpieces’ of today, future generations may be tempted to label the era as another Age of the Stupid.