This afternoon I came across a very senior member of the opposition party who was very critical of the announcement yesterday or the day before by President Maumoon Abdual Gayyoom, that he would allow service in temporary employment in government to be counted for pension. In Maldives government service (which is soon to become the Maldives Civil Service by law) pension is given for continuous service to the government for twenty years. If you have interrupted service except for study leave, you will not get pension unless you are given a special consideration by the President.
Though there are pensioners, double-pensioners and even triple pensioners; there is no pension fund which means the pension scheme becomes a burden on the future budgets of the government. And people who has served the nation in very challenging circumstances do not have the benefits which are enjoyed by government staff for serving the country. This is mainly a result of a long held perception that service to the country is when one serves the government (until as recently as 1968 that would mean the King). The mindset is a part of our national heritage that we have to be proud of, if we are to believe the government.
The feeling of a second class citizen is quite common place in this country; after all we are really second class – that is unless you have royal blood in your veins or heil from a family who were their loyal court members. When the influx of people started toward Male, everything was done to ensure that the interests of the Male landlords will be served. And the development of the nation was planned in such a manner that Male would become the business hub and the money tinting machine for the landlords. Some fortunate second classers also got land and shed their thick skin and became the elite ciitizens of this divine nation.
The culture of prejudice that is our heritage has several peculiar elements of which pension to government staff only, is just one.