August 25, 2023

The essence of campaign

To win a campaign in an ignorant society the approach is to make this a festival because festivity attracts a lot of people. When there is a crowd more people gather into the crowd and generate what psychologists call the mob mentality. This is not a rational mentality. They flock together to get a feeling of belonging. In a community devoid of other ways of feeling a sense of belonging they group together to enjoy that sense of being. So the voters too vote in this case just to be in the winning group and feeling the glow of being “useful” when in fact they have been fooled. Most people just like to be in the winning team, or to be in the popular group in school for instance, to give pep to their weak egos. This is the attitude that drives the mob to be together and the mobster to be doing everything to keep this flock together by those external glitter of colour and music and loud rhetoric they throw around to attract a confused people. 

The marketing and PR heavy weights know this from what tactics they have been using for the past several decades or even generations of this capitalist era. From the days when they sold goods and services from door to door for the benefits their goods gave to society, to now where the sale being plied is to satisfy the ego. We know this from shop sales and other gimmicks that salespeople use; when something is available seemingly at a low price we feel it’s a bargain and we rush there and we buy - often mindlessly. It’s only later that we realize that what we had bought was not any cheaper or even of any use. But then our ego comes to the rescue again; we then don’t want to feel deceived so we try to rationalize within ourselves of the not so foolishness of our action. But it’s common knowledge that businesses use people’s emotions rather than their rationality to market their goods nowadays, and that goes for the sale of candidates in a political campaign also. 


This indeed is the election tactic. We are drawn to the hype more than to the rationality of good governance. So the colours and the signs and banners and the music and mementoes give the voter the perceived confidence to give their vote or even to sell their vote to the candidate within this context of a public ignorant of the dynamics of governance and who fail to realise that they have been taken for a ride - yet again. 


As regards governance capability, let’s look at the candidates. What are the qualities of governors of a nation? What is desired is truthfulness, reliability, time-tested quality of steadfastness and faithfulness to one’s creed and spiritual belief. And the ability to work assiduously with other human being without unresolvable conflict. Thus, out of those in the running who has this quality, is the question to be asked. That is what the educated voter must know and decide on. That this person we elect will be just and truthful and fair. 


About the resources available for governance, the nation’s resources are available to anyone who occupies that post of governor. Once elected, it should not be about the size of the party but the sincerity of service one is able to provide. The small independent pair also can govern, if not better than the pair that was coddled by the mob, and who put up all those banners and colours all over the island. In fact the big party is more straddled with burdens, in the case of a win, because they now have to pay back that “pound of flesh” to all those who helped truss the candidate. To avoid revolt, the party now has to dish out the presents as pay-back for the help given by the mob and that means positions in another corruptible government that will compel the take-up of incompetent people into lucrative money-guzzling posts of the new government. But for the small pair that won (if possible from this first barrage of foolishness) there will be the whole nation’s creativity to pick from, and govern for the true betterment of society. Not for its failure yet again. 


This is the anomaly the rational voter faces in politically ignorant independent nations  It is in. our “third world” societies that this kind of foolishness can happen with foolish pride to “mobilize” our communities to the poll.  But to govern, this mob can’t be allowed to take the posts of governors. 


So, independents are better suited to peaceful governance without all the added baggage of party confusion. This realization must dawn on us by now in this democracy. Otherwise we are foolishly exercising hypocrisy. How can we just use the label of democracy to govern in dictatorial ways. This is absolute deception. And yes the nation has been kept deceptively ignorant of democracy from the word go in 2008; for the agents of change even at that time knew that it would be easier to grab power in an ignorant society than in an enlightened one. And that is what Maldives grapples with to this day. 


So voters that support the few independents in the ballot this time around, shouldn’t be enfeebled by the show of glitter around those so-called big parties. What we need is the confidence of good governance that must come from educated voters. And in Maldives we have many in this category, who might sit more silent than they should be, and even though the mob entices the rest to ignorant mob behaviour. Surely, the dust must settle and if we are not ignorant, we will realize that in our haste, we have given yet another wasteful five years to a deceitful lot. 

Please don't be swayed by ignorance. Be led by your higher thoughts of nationhood and Islamic sensibility for a new age Maldives to breathe its first breath of goodness. 

May 21, 2023

It's time for independents to grace the occasion!

Those of us in our senior years have seen both sides of our country’s political life in our maturity and it’s valid to say that Maldives needs a major paradigm shift in its governance approach. While we have espoused and endorsed the values of democracy on paper, we don’t see it in our offices, on our streets and most importantly, in the halls of our nation’s power. It all seems a charade played out in wilful ignorance to keep the hapless public still steeped in ignorance of this concept called democracy.

For the past 15 years of this so-called democracy in Maldives, we have witnessed heinous crimes perpetrated in the name of democracy; Western or otherwise. We have ransacked our nation into debt and poverty by looting our exchequer of whatever liquidity it had and our haloed governor positions being usurped by nefarious forces of the dark.

My dear citizens of this beautiful paradise on earth, we can save this our home for the future only by moving away from the ingrained ways of corruption we have so insidiously adopted. And yes, make no mistake; our salvage can’t be re engineered by the minds that created this heinous strife in the first place. It needs new minds and new approaches. Please, please let me implore our independent minds to rise up and save our nation from this yoke of legitimised kleptocracy functioning in our land in the name of democracy. This charade of political parties and their nebulous coalitions can’t save us. It’s like they are merely rearranging the same furniture in the living room every five years, to make us believe it is now different.

It’s the independents who have the power to change this nation. New faces and new ways to govern must be crafted to fit our local sensibilities. Revolutionary approaches bring lasting changes (please refer to the pages of the book: A nation in Peril: Blighted by Failed Governance, ENDEVOR-Maldives  publication, 2022. Kindle version also available) . We surely need to change the curtains in the room. The democracy we have, while valid indeed in construct, we don’t have to pay absolute homage to an alien construct crafted to the needs of another culture. Do we have to be like the West by hook or by crook? Not really! And we should also not allow our vanity to fool us. Let me also, while lauding the idea of global cooperation, say that globalisation has no meaning when we are all fitted into a straight-jacket. Just like unity is strength, variety still continues to be the spice of life.

I thus venture to say please, my dear comrades in our common community, let's look at the common challenges ahead of us and attempt coming to common terms (Al- Imran 64 tells us just that!). It’s time to come together to allay the evil behemoth of the “Silent Whisperer” to bring about a truly new Maldives that will re-embrace and celebrate the warmth and resilience of our two thousand or more years of common history.

April 27, 2023

We need a new mindset

Albert Einstein is known to have famously said that  problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them. The truth in this is not hard to see. Problems are created when the homeostasis of life is disrupted. And it requires a mind to conjure up the event that made it happen. If that momentary imbalance becomes sustained over time then we have a problem. This happens in our lives all the time as we attempt to change a given situation we have to our advantage. Sometimes this is for personal gain and sometimes for a larger mandate. Most times these are attempts for personal gain for this is the primeval human desire


In politics too this is so evident everywhere and why not so even in our Maldives. After all we too have arrived to follow the global bandwagon, haven't we?  It seems that to gain personal political advantage we have to offer something radical to what the other regime may have been doing when in fact it's not what we promise to do but what we stand for that is more important. What we stand for is often not explained because it is not easy to conceive, describe and market a whole attitude but it is so much easier to pander to the emotions of a constituency by giving them what they seem to urgently want. And this comes in the form of material things that people can touch and feel and perceive with their five senses. 

Money, in whatever form, is the easiest and this is what is promised or doled out fastest. Tax cuts, business opportunities, loans, lucrative jobs, etc. Then comes the next level at the community or island level; harbors, roads, sewerage, running water, flats etc. Now, in all these cases we must realise that the sustainability factor for the receiver for a contented life thereon is very low. At best it's just a breather to settle a temporary glitch in his or her life. We run out of the money, businesses fail, loans drag us into debt and flats leave us sad and alone and with the absence of community. These results leave us worse off and more helpless than ever before. And what of the community level stuff? These need constant care, and when, overtime, these degrade and breakdown amd nobody comes to do the repairs, we complain and blame those who gave these to us for their cheap quality or the deceit and corruption that was mixed with such shady transactions. 

But then we quickly forget these and we ask for more from those who stand for election the next time. The public is kept in this flux regime after regime; fooled every time. Sad to say we never realise it because our ego shows us the way to doubt and blame; tells us it's not our problem but the craftiness of those shady politicians. In one breath we are right because politicians are always crafty and many a time downright unscrupulous. But in another breath it would be wise to realize that we are also very gullible or our ego makes us so. Either way we are to blame. When the constitution says power comes from the people we don't really believe it with our heart. These words are just perfect for wily politicians and crafty lawyers but such a deep concept doesn't seem to ring a bell in our very naive political public mind. Naturally, because Maldives have for centuries been a kingdom, our leaders have always had a distaste for the public’s involvement in national governance. Even in our post independence period since the late 60s the enlightening civics classes in our schools that lingered for a few years were soon removed from the curriculum and our enthusiasm for the political dimension squelched. Any university education in this major of political science was also  visibly discouraged. More encouraged were the neutral preparations of doctors and nurses engineers and accountants. All a harmless bunch who will not be any threat to the ruling elite. 

Lets ask. Why don’t the politicians have any other long term moral and unselfish agenda? Why do they get into politics? Why do they abase themselves to go to their constituencies to beg for the vote and promise to do whatever the public demands when they get elected. Often most of those who stand have no social record of good they have done for society in their past. Are we hoodwinked everytime they make promises? How stupid can we be! I have had friends who have told me they were going into politics because that is the most lucrative. Many may not voice this but do we truly believe that they run so hard and sweaty just get to the top and do good for us with love and compassion in their hearts? Let's not be fooled. They don't want to change the system that gives them the advantage. They do want the checks and balances system but they don't want to close the loopholes from where they can creep through to be “legitimately” corruptive. They hide behind the rules and say it's according to the law when in fact the party gangs together to pass lucrative laws that will benefit the party clan. And they go their merry corruptive ways with impunity. 

Let’s wake up and make our country moral again. Only in morality lies truthfulness and sustainability of humaneness. Tell me i'm a starry-eyed idealist. But without some idealism there is not going to be any human progress? To be a nation that has some identity (not for ego boost but for moral boost) and celebrate our diversity in a global village. We don't want every city of ours to be an americom (Tom Freedman’s short for American Community) and have the whole world in a straight jacket. Don’t each nation have a celebrated diversity. While we can have the commonality of moral rectitude, we can be at the same time as diverse in our local ways as our God-given colors or shapes and sizes are diverse. Why do we have to conform and subordinate our ways to the ways of development or modernization as someone else defined. Do we blindly espouse the moral degradation also that is a part of this model and that which we are witnessing before our very eyes? Or do we choose to celebrate our difference? Are we ashamed of our religious and social culture? What makes another's way more superior? Is money the factor that makes us better or an inner dimension of goodness and humbleness that makes us more reverent? Isn't it this reverence that elevates us to the human beings we are supposed to be? 

Sadly our present politics debase us into voiceless objects. We say we have a democratic constitution and democratic means to govern when in fact we are prisoners of our own conscience; that conscience that still dictates where we are -  to be subordinate to our leaders when in fact we should treat our leaders as first among equals. That can only happen when we can truly begin to respect each other. It is when we don't have the urge as leaders to hide their bodies away from the public in darkened vehicles, their souls behind expensive sunglasses and angry rhetoric but feel humble to walk unashamed on wobbly or flooded streets just like the poor man and in the public market place just as our beloved Prophet did.

Yes we need different mindsets to change our nation. Youth of our nation. Please learn new ways to lead and please don't follow the ways of the politicians we have had in the past and even now who attempt to usurp the reigns of power and leave us stalled for yet another 5 years.