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An alternative view point: Let us set a higher moral standard
By Fathimath Rasheedha, Sunday 18th July 2004
The recent desire (which has become very fashionable!) of criticising government policies and in particular the personal life of the Head of the State needs close scrutiny. Although I agree with most of what is being said about the inadequacies and unjust nature of several government policies and the corruption of several senior government figures, I shall never condone the calculated attacks on the personality and character of the president. For me, this is a matter of principle more than anything else.
When we are publicly engaged in a national debate about good governance, we need to focus our energy and effort on exactly that: the governance of our country. Any deviation from this would not be healthy for our reform movement nor for future governments. Any attack on the personal life of the president "whoever it maybe" takes us a step back towards an unhealthy political abyss. All political writers, commentators and activist should do and say what they would tolerate to be said to and about them. This is the moral stand that so lacks in our political debates.
My views maybe old fashioned but I strongly feel that this is the right approach to criticising public office bearers. Transparency does not mean that one has to reveal his private and sexual lifestyle provided they are within the laws and customs of the country. Accountability does not mean one's actions should be scrutinised when it is clearly not in the public's interest to do so. Having said that, I think it is also very important to state here that I would support any legislature calling for transparency of all government funds including those spent on the ruling family. And this has to be demanded in Majlis sittings and in our public forums. After all it is our money that is being spent on someone we have elected to serve us. What is important is we make our demands clear and loud while showing respect to the president's personal life. These should be the guiding principles of our political discussions.
In the heat of our new found passion to have a view on our political system, we sometimes shift our focus from the centre of the argument to other side issues. And in doing so commit what I would call unpatriotic acts. Our national flag, for example, has to be respected at all times. It neither belongs nor represents the man who holds the office of the president. The office of the presidency needs to be protected and respected too. If the occupant of that office commits treason, or becomes corrupt, or has to be removed by the Majlis, it can be dealt with without tainting the office of the president. These are national institutions that belong to us, the Maldivians. They are not inherited properties of any ruling family.
We do not have the moral authority to condemn the current government for their inhumane and unfound attacks on pro reform thinkers and activists if we are engaged in doing the same against them. Let us set the standard here. Let us display a higher moral authority. Let us not lower our standards to that of the oppressor.
© Dhivehi Observer 2004