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An alternative view point: Let us ensure we do the right thing
By Fathimath Rasheedha, Sunday 11th July 2004
Lately, there have been a lot of discussions in public gatherings and in print media about our elected MP's fulfilling the role of welfare officers for their constituents instead of acting as law makers in the parliament on their constituency's behalf. And almost every member of the public, the media has interviewed had a story to tell about how their personal welfare issues were attended to by their MP.
Many naive political commentators have indirectly questioned why MP's do not fulfil the role of law makers in the Majlis. For me, the answer to this question is too complex for a simple one line response.
The majority of our MP's, if not for all, have full time jobs either in the government or in the private sector. Their main source of income is not the pay cheque they receive from the Majlis. Several MP's have often opted not to attend the Majlis sessions in pursuit of personal ambitions and goals, be it overseas business ventures or seeking tertiary studies in a foreign university. The current parliamentary regulations allow MP's to hold onto their seats despite not attending several sessions for any parliamentary year. And unfortunately we, the constituents, never question those we elect about their performance and commitment once they take oath of office. Nor do the MP's feel obliged to meet their constituents to discuss their concerns. Such is the state of politics in our home land. Do you know how many MP's have an office so that their constituents could come and meet them regularly?
Another reason for what I would label as the "casual approach to the job" on the part of several MP's is a direct result of our political system. In all democracies, law makers attend the parliament daily to discuss debate and decide what is best for the people. They have individual office's within the parliamentary building complex. In our system of government MP's attend the parliament generally once or twice in a month for a few hours as if it was just one of those "committee meetings" that has become so common in the governance of our country.
Lawmakers can only do their job as MP's effectively if, they are not employed in the government. Lawmakers should be free to spend their day in the Majlis to ensure our political rights are protected and upheld. The Majlis should become the political hub of our nation where all and every issue is discussed. The Majlis hall should become the focal point of our politics and our government. The President should attend the Majlis daily and he should hold weekly meetings to answer MP's questions. Our MP's should be free to raise issues and concerns in Majlis sittings. And more importantly, they should be willing to question, demand and fight for our rights. Otherwise they should pay back the huge salary cheque they have been collecting from the day they took office and resign. Let the educated youth take over.
It is time for us, the constituents, to ensure our elected MP's do the job that we entrust them to do. As Hon. Athif, the Special Majlis member for Male', pointed out in a recent public gathering, it is the constituents who make their MP's welfare officers and not lawmakers. Let us change our attitude. Let us vote for candidates who are willing to work full-time for us. Let us ensure we do the right thing in the upcoming elections.
© Dhivehi Observer 2004