Working with the public is an art our new democratic in
must learn. The change in our system from an autocracy to democracy turns the
governance pyramid upside down. Now the people are at the top and at the bottom
of the inverted pyramid are the elected officials – now the servant leaders. Maldives
This change poses a great challenge to leadership. In the new frame of things, leaders must learn to acquire the mindset of servants and that sense of accountability. And equally so, the public must graduate from the feeling of being servants to feeling and acting more like leaders who know what they want. The sense of discretion, maturity and responsibility must also dawn on us as citizens, for, the nation must now become what we want it to be, not what the servant leaders want it to be. And, our vigilance to the performance of our elected public servants will determine the type of future course our ship will take.
In this new situation, a good leader will be one who will consult the public often and keep them apprised of the true course the ship of the nation is taking. Transparent government and an aware public will be the needed combination to chart that path. Thus, leaders should not pull the nation faster than they can make the public aware of new methods and processes of governance they wish to employ. While the leadership has the responsibility to find creative ways to lead, there is no need to hurry, for we are not in any race with another nation or people. There is no one at the end-line to see who comes first in the race. The servant leaders we elect are the flag bearers for the nation who must act within the limits of our public’s awareness. Public officials must be transparent in suggesting new ways to govern. However, this requires a whetting of such new approaches by the public and getting their acceptance before it goes to the legislature. Refusing to do so would indicate to us public that our executive mind is still arrogant, perhaps due to the reigning vestige of the autocratic legacy that says ‘the leader knows what’s best for the people’. For a transparent process, radical policies, especially those with implications for huge outlays of public funds, will need public scrutiny and discussion before it goes to Majlis. Their choice must reflect the public’s voice. If not something must be wrong.
In respect to new governance methods too, the public’s familiarity with these must take precedence. When we attempt to fit and implement laws in
that are made for foreign
systems and cultures, our public is disempowered in its enforcement because these
require drastic changes to our implementation mechanisms and skill capacities.
The public must be comfortable with the system of governance that is suggested,
and not have to grapple with an imposition. As society gets better educated and
acclimated, rules and processes can be revised to fit to the evolving mindset. Maldives
So, should we not opt for our progress to be a progressive process -- not necessarily a drastic one? We need a nation that is happy. We need a nation in which its wealth is shared equitably with its citizens. And the truth that I see is that in a nation as small and homogenous as ours, this can be done. There is no need for our elected servant leaders to so eagerly lavish precious resources on huge or fancy investment projects for which our progeny will be kept in indefinite debt. Being in debt should not make us happy. Why not spend on social and human development programs that will make the minds of our future citizens more humane, loving and sharing? Those creative homegrown minds will build the nation of the future.