May 19, 2014

A Cynical Nation?

The recently released 2013 Maldives Democracy Survey "Democracy at the Crossroads" reveals a heap of statistics on the perception of a random sample of Maldivians on the practice of democracy in Maldives. 
I was shocked and pained to discover its prime finding that there is a major inter-personal trust deficit in our polity – a whopping  92 per cent believing the politician's "readiness to lie to get elected", and a huge factor of cynicism also prevalent in our society – another eye-popping 86 per cent believing that "the government doesn't care about ordinary people".  

While we may take off some percentage points on account of statistical error, it still remains a significant finding that our nation is struggling under the stress of nefarious actions by us polity that make these findings real. Is it not us polity that help to spread the distrust that is planted by the politician? Is it not us the polity that must establish in ourselves the courage to want the government to care about us? After all it is we who go to the polls to cast our vote for those we trust and raise them to the helm to look after our house for the next five years. Blaming our action after the fact and then jumping ship to join the winning side when we see our side faltering, or just keeping to the side-lines ensconced in the cynical view that "whoever comes to government, there will be no change" or "the government doesn't care about the ordinary person", are typically the action sequences that make our nation what this report unearths.

This is indeed a wake-up call for all of us Maldivians and for our politicians to help change this perception. In subsequent reports we would hope to see improvements in these indicators, and indeed such changes will be the quantifiable indicators that will endear us to our future servants and want them to continue longer to take us into a developmental future charged with moral fortitude, not selfishness and greed. A future in which our children will find the context that will lead them to be more trustful and less cynical. 

The major question thus remains now is about how our government is going to veer the ship -- that is presently moving doggedly forward with the weight of the collective inertia of past baggage -- in the right direction!

May 12, 2014

Paradigm shift to servant takes time

Now that our big neighbour is right now in the throes of selecting a new five-year hopeful, its good for us to reflect on the process. 

In a democracy the general agreement is that our leaders are really our servants. We select them, give them a salary, and keep or dismiss them four or five years later at the polls. However, the irony of democracy in our nations, particularly so in our East, is that we still continue to treat those we elect to look after our house for five years or so as bosses rather than servants. The reason is not hard to fathom, for the collective thinking doesn't just go away with the stroke of a pen ushering in democracy. Our minds are unfortunately mired in the past in the nurturing we have been brought up in. And given the totalitarian context we have been immersed in for centuries -- from kingdoms to "democratic" fiefdoms, -- we the public have always been the governed - the servant.

With modern democracy, the concept of governance has been turned on its head so to say, and a people's government must have our servants to manage our "house". And, if that is the case, we ourselves must be actively looking out for our housekeepers without passively being influenced by the potential applicants or those that turn up at our doorstep to plead for a job every five years. I know of no one who would not have a set of standards by which he would measure their acceptability to be taking stewardship of their house -measured certainly on a moral scale than on an immoral one. Thus, we need such yardsticks too for our potential national house-keepers for us to be assured of a good night’s sleep when they take charge of our house.

Yes, it would take time for this kind of thinking to sink into the minds of our ingenuous polity - perhaps generations?! All during this intervening time, as we learn, we are perhaps doomed to have our house looted time and time again leaving the repair bills for our unborn children. The only chance is at the polls.