Saturday, August 8, 2009

Will democracy work this time?

AS Foreign Minister Dr. Ahmed Shaheed Stated in his address to India's Council of World Affairs in New Delhi, democratic reforms have been attempted on three different occasions in the Maldives since 1932. The earlier two attempts failed; but Shaheed claims that the current attempt could succeed.

While Shaheed does not specify the earlier two democratic movements, one can assume that the first of them was the one that ended with the label of 'Motor Boat Revolt.' The second was presumably the movement launched at the beginning of President Gayoom's regime, the movement that fizzled out and died with the 1998 Constitution.

Each movement was made possible during periods of weakness experienced by autocratic rulers. The earlier two movements failed when the ruler regained his composure. As Shaheed has also noticed the current movement is different in that the ruler was deposed before he could regain his authority. So it's left to the new ruler to complete the endgame. Will he stifle the movement if he does get full authority?

This time around there are certain safeguards against degradation into autocracy – independent judiciary and parliament. However they are not absolute guarantees. Parliamentary control can be regained through engineered defections. Judiciary can be cowed down by threats. So time alone will tell us the fate of the current democratic movement.


Mohamed Naahii said...

Very true, only time will tell us. We must not forget that ushering cannot be just done by one person. Like wise current ruler President Nasheed cannot do it alone, the democracy to develop needs everyones support. From the judiciary, parliment, the opposition and most importantly the people. Despite our political differences i hope that our politicians would work on achieveing the common goal that is ahead of us, Consolidating the democracy that we bred in our homeland...

Anonymous said...

Democracy is not on the right track and in fact it is getting derailed step by step in its infancy.
Some important and alarming points to this effect:
*The government doesnot consider it important to consult the opposition on matters of national importance.
* Doubtful policies are getting implemented without taking the involved parties into confidence.For example the privatization of hospitals and schools.
*The government run media is now nothing but a mouth piece of the ruling party and opposing views are not broadcast anymore.
* Opposition leaders now live in an atmosphere of fear and uncertainity due to daily intimidation.
*Some junior members of the government loose temper very easily when audiences ask them questions of a sensitive and critical nature.They seem to have taken on a rather dictatorial attitude.Not a good sign for people claiming to be democrats.
* Harassement and intimidation and discrimination along party lines have become frequent and very alarming.
* Private media is living with intimidation and they even lost freedom to write or telecast independent and critical views against the government.The interference in VTVs Maakanaa programme is a telling reminder.
Now the question is why did the self proclaimed democrats suddenly took an about turn and became paranoid autocrats?The real reason may never be known but some possibilities include:
* They are never true democrats in the first place.
*When you are not a true democrat is is rather difficult to digest criticism on your failings.
* Democracy was just a ploy to get power and inorder to continue it is better to turn dictators.After all isnt what the Burmese junta is doing?
* Too much of democracy can seriously expose the flaws of this government and make it impossible for them to regain office after five years.
*Many people in the new government are tyrants in their social and family life and habits die hard even if your are elected to highest offices in the country.
It is still too early to make a final judgement on the ultimate end result.Democracy or dictatorship but one thing is quite clear.The immature, hot headed and new crowd of the new administration doesnot seem to love a democratic approach but take a lot of pride and pleasure in intimidation,hurling direct and veiled threats at their opponents and having almost zero tolerance towards opposing views and with this ominous outlook the fate of our endangered and nascent democracy is just anyones guess but tommorow is just another day and no need to be too pessimistic either.

Yaamyn said...

I'm afraid to sound like a cynic, but I'm convinced that Democracy in the Maldives is just a farce.

What we lack are leaders of calibre - we don't have a government that has a vision, nor do we have an opposition that has a constructive agenda.

They prefer obstruction.

The quality of 'debate' in the parliament is absolutely abysmal and totally devoid of ANY intellect or purpose.

The country is a mess because it's 'leaders' are a mess.

We are just a little better off than a lawless country like Somalia.

Anonymous said...

Under the stewardship of President Nasheed, democracy will work and prosper this time in the Maldives. Why? Now there is the willingness to inculcate the values of democracy in our society, as opposed to the regime presided by the previous president. The former president never did and never wanted to promote democracy in the first place. The current political reforms were brought about by twisting the arm of the government by the courageous opposition of the Maldives then. The former information minister Nasheed has also said something to this effect in his blog as well.

Anonymous said...

In democracy the road is wide open for crooks, bandits,murderers, drug leaders etc etc to run for parliament as seen in neighbouring countries.we may not be having bandits in the real sense of the word but have no shortage of day light robbers and it is really possible to enter the majlis by strong arm tactics as demonstrated by the last the end result is having a parliament with people of all variety with very inferior intellect as the majority.Offcoarse with a few educated and capable people too but as expected the quality of debate will be full of useless rhetoric and lack substance but when you elect these people thats what you wil get and suffer these fools for five years.

Zahid said...

To Anon 9.16:
What do you mean by willingness to inculcate democratic values?
1. Is it intimidation of Judge Abdulla Mohamed for refusing to tow your line
2. Is it bringing to task DhiTV for airing a program which you thought was biased?
3. Is it establishing a kangaroo court filled with biased people to harass your political opponents?
4. Is it harassing MPs like Saleem and Nazim?
5. Is it appointing 40+ uneducated activists as state ministers?

Anonymous said...

To: Comment Zahid at 1:12 am.
All what you have mentioned indicate the actions of a truly autocratic regime on fast track to become the biggest despots this country has ever witnessed.
All the actions you have mentioned can only be undertaken by governments of real tyrants like Idi Amin,Mugabe,Mussolinni,Hitler,
Zionists of Israel against Arabs,Pol Pot,Mobutu,etc etc.. All notoriously famous regimes for their brutality and lack of respect for democracy and human freedom.
Practically all this shows a willingness to subjugate and bring fear into the people so that the rule can be prolonged no matter what.Even now there is a growing dark atmosphere of fear, intimidation and lack of willingless express ones feelings in the open.A similar circumstance prevailed during the autocratic regime of President Nasir.Perhaps after turning the pages of history the present rulers have found this page of our dark history most attractive and want to repeat this all over again and take us back to square one.Let me say one thing.No matter what the people will recognise a true democracy when it comes and benevolent leaders if and when we are lucky to get them.Right now the reality is some what different and we can only hope for all these to change before it brings about irreversible destruction to our beloved country.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Zahid!
In this so called democracy, individuals do not have a right to choose a party or be independent. Family or peers apparently arent satisfied until everyone is on "their side"! We have forgotten that we are all Maldivian citizens with equal rights!

Anonymous said...

The art work is great.. worth thousand words..

Anonymous said...

Dr Shaheed was Maumoon's boy.Maumoon held his hand and nurtutred him until he could walk alone. Shaheed looked upon Maumoon with awe.Even on private and personal matters, Shaheed always asked/prayed for Maumoon's guidance.Shaheed was part of Maumoon's propaganda machine.Shaheed defended (to the best of his limited capability) Maumoon vigourously,in foreign and local media.He even had a blog page to answer and rubbish all free articles which were anti Maumoon.
So, why has Shaheed foresaken his hero,mentor,boss and friend Maumoon? Even now Maumoon has not foresaken Shaheed.