I’ve been too far removed from the turbulence and chaos at the heart of the political “crisis” in the Maldives to make an informed comment. Therefore I’ve remained silent. This post is by no means a return to comment or an indication that I’m now somehow informed and aware of the contents in the boiling-pot of politics in Maldives.
It is interesting that in the many years of my writing on this blog the most peaceful and, dare I say, safest period were the years prior to the 2008 election. Yes, the Gayoom years. Back then I wrote quite fiercely critical of Gayoom himself and his politics and wrote fearlessly and openly about religion. But things changed with the arrival of “democracy” under Anni.
Just few short months after the election that lead to “new heights” of democracy, on March 19th 2009 to be precise, access to my blog was blocked on the order of the Communications Authority of the Maldives at the behest of the newly formed Council of the Religious Dingbats – otherwise popularly known as the Islamic Ministry.
In my opinion, two of Anni’s biggest mistakes during the foundation of his administration were the establishment of the said ministry and his “romantic ideas of how to deal with” Gayoom. These so-called ideas were arguably ascertained from the pages of How to Deal Romantically with Dictators for Dummies - read mostly by dictators as they admire themselves in mirrors. If you know what I mean.
More to the point, as Anni’s years in power progressed so did the freedoms enjoyed by open and vocal writers regress. A resurgence or rather an invasion of radicalized and conservative form of religion took foothold and by the end to his regime the level of xenophobia, unrest and religious intolerance and fear had ballooned out of control. On hindsight, the whole thing might have been an act of brilliant public opinion influencing and manipulation by Gayoom. Who knows? The old codger is as sly as he is vile.
I suppose I might have expected the increase in religious conservatism to impact society positively. Perhaps there would be less crime, I thought. Maybe a complete disappearance of social vices: drugs, alcohol and sex out of wedlock. Instead, a booming headscarf and burqa market established right next to the market for paid sex, alcohol and drugs.
Anni’s administration was marred by corruption as well as mismanagement debacles. That is to be expected when you live in South Asia, you know. It’s the ghetto mentality and the crazy monsoons. Here Anni is as much an asshole as Rajapaksha is a red-winged angel, depending on who you ask.
If you ask me I will tell you that there will be two assholes competing in a forthcoming election (if there is to be one). One asshole will be Anni. The other will be appointed by Gayoom – unless he can get to bathe in the blood of 20 virgins before the elections (to maintain youthful appearance at the age of 845 and all that). In which case, he himself will face off Anni.
And if you ask me who I will vote for in this election, the answer will be that despite all the shortcomings and my grudges against him I will vote for Anni – for he is still the better asshole.