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An alternative view point: The real heroes of Monday
By Fathimath Rasheedha - Wedneasday 21 July 2004
Mondays' sitting of the Special Majlis session was definitely a very historic event from any account. Historians would most probably interpret the events to support their own hypothesis on the direction of Maldivian politics. Some political commentators have already made it very clear in their writings who they salute and who their true heroes are. For me though, there were no losers on Monday. Everyone was a winner including those at the opposing ends of our political spectrum.
Monday's meeting made headlines in world media because almost a quarter of the MP's in session walked out as a result of what they felt was a clear breach of the constitution by the temporary chair of the session to manipulate an agenda item. This was a first for us. But this wasn't the end of the drama and the best scene was yet to be played out on the floor of the Majlis. The MP's who walked out has to be congratulated for the simple reason that they were unwilling to take part in what they saw was an unconstitutional act. They were the first set of heroes that emerged from the political events of Monday. If this noble attitude of never compromising the right with the wrong can always be upheld by all parliamentarians then democracy and social harmony is what we shall enjoy in the future.
The MP's decision to meet the president was undoubtedly a political boost for the president. MP's who are clearly not "with the regime" looked upon the president as the only saviour of our chaos of the day. Given our political climate and constitution there was obviously no one else to go to either. And for the first time since September last year the president played his cards very well. He met all the "rebel MP's" and listened to their concerns without giving way any political edge. He positioned himself very well to safe guard the degenerating beginning to the constitutional debate that he called for himself sometime ago. He did not promise to give away any political edge his government has but indicated that he would seek legal advice on the matter and would inform the MP's of what to do. Surely it was huge plus for the president that he would not have even thought in his wild political dreams. Perhaps, in political terms, it was a far better achievement than electing someone to chair the Special Majlis. Only time will tell whether the president will use this opportunity to demonstrate he is indeed the true champion of our democracy or, whether he will let his family dictate his political decisions kicking us down the road to social mayhem.
For me, the unsung heroes of the day were two MP's, one appointed and one elected, who quietly sat in the Majlis while all the debate about voting went on. One is the nephew of the president and son of the temporary chair of the session. The other is the brother of one of the MP's who would later walk out of the session. They spoke when it mattered most. Their conscious must have influenced them to speak at the Majlis floor convincing the temporary chair to abandon the meeting and to welcome all those MP's who walked out. If not for these two MP's the events of the day would have unfolded a very different story line. Imagine what would have happened had the temporary chair of the session went ahead with voting and electing a chair for the Special Majlis. Civil disobedience would most certainly have resulted from that. It would also create a real political chaos as such an event could leave the president without any opportunity to act after his meeting with the MP's.
The ordinary members of the public were the greatest of all the heroes of the day. They gathered near the Presidents Office and the Majlis complex in great numbers but acted as responsible and decent citizens. When they were told by their elected MP's to return to their homes to let democracy work, they obliged willingly. They had the power, opportunity and reason to create havoc on the streets of Male' and yet they decided to act for the greater good of our country and our democracy.
It is an undeniable fact that the temporary chair of the session showed relentless determination to have things done by his way and yet lost his grip in the end. And many commentators put the blame squarely on his arrogant attitude towards the elected and appointed members of the Majlis. There is much the president could learn from the events of the day. His luck may not shine every day of the week for the rest of the year! And the sooner he realise his political survival can no longer rests with the politics of his brother the better for him and us. Having said that, I must make it clear here that I feel the temporary chair of the session also had a very unique victory: something that he would probably be very proud of for many years to come. Despite his years of experience at the helm of the Maldivian political scene, he had to admit his sons' advice was logical, more politically sound and just than his. And admit the father did. He proved to the entire nation, perhaps unknowingly, the importance of listening to the younger generation and acknowledging that they may have a better way of handling the affairs that the old guard have handled for so long. Maybe there is a lesson here for all politicians. We can only imagine what could have happened if events had taken a different course.
All in all it was a day we should all be happy and proud of. We are all heroes today. Let us not dwindle but instead be steadfast in our determination to make our country more democratic and free from all corrupt politicians. Let us do our part in what is just no matter who the opponent is.
© Dhivehi Observer 2004