Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What lies ahead for the MDP?

A friend I met at a coffee house yesterday said: "Is this what Maldives will be like for the rest of our lives? When one party is in power, all other parties go on the streets protesting? It's like an eternal Mardi Gras has taken over us!"

Such a question led me to conclude that my friend is misinformed - or at least not very clear about the events of Feb. 7 despite all the evidence out there.

There are some elements in our society who think it was right to topple Nasheed's government - on the pretext that Nasheed had kicked out all the coalition "allies" after coming to power. But the truth is that, for whatever reason the coalition backed him (whether to oust Gayoom or whatever other reasons that are there), the coalition still backed him and gave the MDP the necessary majority to lead this nation. Hence, there is no room to claim that the MDP does not have majority support, and there is no reason whatsoever to oust Nasheed through a coup or whatever other means available.

Therefore, the MDP has taken to the streets over the past one month in order to get back a right they had been stripped of. This is in contrast to the coalition who took to the streets in December, January and February for no good reason other than pursuing their unashamed lust for power. Hence, I told my friend, that Maldives do not need to be a perpetual hotbed for street demonstrations.

The only way to bring calm to the streets, and most importantly, avoid another coup in future, whichever party happens to be in power, is for any party, even if it is the MDP, to immediately launch an "information war" to educate the public (in both Male' and other islands) on the benefits of having a democratic form of governance.

This time it proved easy to topple the (MDP) government because no efforts had been made to educate the larger public about the benefits of a democracy. Rather, valiant efforts to educate the people are constantly bombarded with counter-efforts to discredit democracy.

And this time it also proved quite easy to supplant the religious "chip" into the ignorant masses: if this was the time of Caliph Omar, the traitors who proclaim that God willed them the presidency ("God made me President", claims Dr. Waheed) would surely be lashed for lying in the name of God and distorting the meaning of galo gadhar (the concept of Destiny and Fate in Islam). Needless to say, in future it will be in the benefit of the Maldivian people to amend the Constitution to outlaw the use of religion as a political tool. Otherwise sheikhs will continue to bicker among themselves, subsequently resulting in ordinary people getting a distorted version of Islam and getting confused about Islamic principles.

The sad thing about the MDP is that the party is too disorganized and has always been so right from its inception. What the West took more than a thousand years to learn, Maldivians are being "rushed", with the MDP not undertaking any efforts, while it was in the government, to educate the people about the ideals of democracy: as soon as the MDP came to power, they ceased the print edition of Minivan Daily -- and Dhivehi Observer deliberately faded away... It is only now that new websites like MvDemocracy, MaldivesDemocracyMovement and the New Dhivehi Observer are springing up, while "old" websites like Maldives Culture and Dhivehi Observer are being revived.

Now, only the MDP's Women's Movement "Anhenunge Roohu" ("The Spirit of Women") show any sort of well-coordinated efforts in their demonstrations. Hence, it is regrettable that while the coalition government is now challenging MDP policies such as "Aasandha" universal health care and the "Second Chance" parole program for inmates, the men and youth of MDP are not engaging in a serious game to counter these challenges.

Some say that this is because MDP is largely a "movement" of independent-minded reformists mingling with MDP members. However, it will only be through a thoroughly organized and coordinated effort between MDP members and supporters-who-are-not-members which can launch a good counter-effort against the debilitating effects of the return to power of the old dictatorial regime of Gayoom.

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