That democracy is indeed regressing in many parts of the world is not difficult to see in what floods our living rooms through TV and internet. Statistics show that only a quarter of the world’s nations have seemingly well-functioning democratic regimes. Another quarter is deemed as flawed democracies, and a whopping half falling into the category of corruptive and autocratic rule, even if they maybe labelled democracies. That means every other democracy is flawed, malfunctioning of defunct. And the situation is not improving. The so-called third wave of democratization of the world’s nations that began in the mid-1970s has now turned many into failed states by the end of the 20th century. It appears that even in the ‘developed’ world, this paradigm seems to be taking heavy breaths. Voter turnout is dwindling and thus public participation, the engine that drives democracy, seems to be on the ebb.
The biggest reason for this is the loss of leader credibility. In a democracy, these persons are actually the servants of the people, whatever personal hype they may garner by the enticement engendered by the grandiose promises they make during campaign time. The public also are fickle and capricious and their character easily changed, no doubt moulded by the years of materialistic mentality nurtured by the capitalist philosophy created by the industrial revolution. We the public are easily bought by the glittery presents that are promised and we cannot blame ourselves totally also, because one’s mental make-up shaped by years of servitude, takes generations to be re-hardwired. Meanwhile politicians make hay, and take us the public for the ride year after year.
In Maldives, the same thing is happening and while many that I talk to are disillusioned by the fraying or our socially cohesive fabric that has been for so long nurtured by the Grace of Islam, we are however easily enticed by the tinsel offered by our servants to be. Corruption in the form of using public office for personal gains and the draining of our exchequer on outlandish capital projects could be captioned as highway robbery by those in high positions in connivance with cronies in the system. Yet our independent commissions are in no capacity to rise to the occasion of their mandate because they have been hardwired also in the old ways. So, with gigantic salaries and perks financed from public money, they sit ensconced because the hapless and politically illiterate public are not organized enough to bring them to the task of being the ombudsmen they are supposed to be. No wonder that the global corruption index fares Maldives way in the dumps with other global heavy-weights - a sprat among the whales. Why does this have to be in a tiny nation such as ours where happiness should prevail in the cool shade of our God-given resources of a paradise on earth. Intelligent and unselfish visioning of what we want Maldives to be for our children and grandchildren will bring to our minds what kinds of people we need to bring into our home as housekeepers. The vote is the only real and immediate power that we, the people have to bring in good people to tend to our house every five years.