Thursday night the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) announced a membership drive for the Party. They announced a lofty target of 150,000 members; a figure some analysts agree is the magic number in Maldivian politics that ensures that an election will not head to a second round.
Teams from the Party descended on various areas of the capital Male’, armed with membership forms and campaign paraphernalia. Cabinet Ministers were among the swarms that were on the roads. Thajuddin school was the headquarters of the event, spearheaded by the First Lady.
The interesting thing here is the blatant abuse of state resources, companies and civil employees by the Government figures, on political purposes. The very definition of corruption.
Government coordinators insist that on Saturday they were able to recruit 11,000 members. Out of this 2,300 were recruited by Fenaka Corporation alone. An achievement that was proudly advertised on their social media accounts.
While the ruling PPM insists that the entire Party, nay the entire nation, is rallying behind the Party and by default the President, Saturday’s membership drive smacks of desperation. And, when we delve deeper into these claims, this figure is quite low.
How is it that the entire Government, with Ministers and civil employees, together along with all state resources and cash, from a seemingly bottomless pit, was able to recruit just 11,000 members. Honestly, I had higher targets in mind.
Historically Maldivians had always shifted their allegiances to whom so ever was in power. The number of times political figures had switched parties over any given number of years is a strong testament to this fact. The fact that large amounts of cash had changed and continues to change hands for votes is a well-known one. Some choose to translate this into action at the polls; others choose to swindle the cash and vote for a candidate of their choice. The fact that the very candidates elected to represent the public, votes against public interest and profit from that endeavor is also well-known.
Therefore, strength in numbers is a fallacy to depend on when it comes to Maldives. And it is false hope to imagine that this will move against what has been proved over and over again.
Received 130 PPM Membership forms from A.Dh.Maamigili on today's PPM Membership drive event. Thank you! pic.twitter.com/pp9xSvQyIW— Thoriq Ibrahim (@Thoriqibrahim) February 11, 2017
What is truly disturbing is the level of slavery Members of Parliament and Cabinet Members had sunk into. When Cabinet Members such as Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim steps out on the field to recruit members to the ruling PPM, a very strong and negative precedent is set. He is first and foremost, a civil servant, heading a Government agency and responsible for that agency’s mandate. As a Minister, he has a certain level of gravitas and a standard that sets him apart from the rest of PPM. As a Minister of the nation, he is held to a higher moral ground than the rest of the nation.
Sinking into bi-partisan politics, creates a clear conflict of interest. In another nation, another democracy, this act will be an impeachable offense and an act that will earn that individual the scorn of the public.
However, in the Maldives, there is no such distinction. The lines are blurred to the point where any discussion on the issue is deemed moot. But for the future, this only seeks to damage the nation beyond the point of salvation.