Today I sat at a table in a coffee shop with a man who was delighted with the success of their strike to “make things right” on a tourist resort in Maldives. Hce was delighted that they had won. He was delighted that the “culprit” lost and could not do a thing because of rights enshrined in the August Constitution of the Maldives and the new Labor Law.
After he left, I wondered to myself – what have we become? I have always believed that Allah has created enough of everything in such abundance that the wealth and the welfare of another cannot take away what is rightfully mine. That the other need not lose for me to win. Yet, there is so many amongst us who seem to believe that our happiness can only come from someone else’s misery, that our success can only be if others are to lose.
What is going on in the tourism industry today is to me a sign of this mentality that seem to have gripped our nation – which have been hailed as Paradise on Earth. The chaos and the fight to annihilate the other has come about for compelling reasons that would be spelled out in detail by each party to impress their case.
It was in July 2008 that the Maldives Association of the Tourism Industry (MATI) warned of a looming tourism decline.
The first high profile strike organized by TEAM was settled after intervention by the President’s Office. Since then we have seen strikes that have rocked the industry which is in a very fragile state. Maryam Omidi’s report on Minivan News says, there has been about ten strikes in the recent months according to Tourism Employee’s Association President Ahmed Easa. Some blame the Labor Law while others blame the attitude and treatment of local employees by their five-star rich employers.
Since then, the President has flown to Italy to woo tourists, and the Economic Development Minister has made an offical visit to Italy “create a suitable environment for investment.” He had “expessed surprise” [that] “discussions to seek investment had not occured in the past.” The Tourism Minister has just left for the Moscow International Tourism and Travel Fair (MITT) 2009. The government is “going all out” to attract tourists and to woo investors.
There seems to be an absence of a commitment or a will by the government, MATI or TEAM to put things right – to work out a timeline for creating the conditions required to enable the Labor Law through short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies that would sustain the “bread-basket” of the nation. When are we going to act as a nation – not as individuals looking for fame, not as lobbyists for self-interest groups, not as political parties; who wish to “win” by the “sheer loss” of those who are against them; so that we may survive the world economic crisis?
This arrogance and attitude of mind (for “them” to lose so that we can “win” in absolute terms)can only scare the employers (of local employees) and create a lack of investor confidence in Maldives investment climate. How on earth would tourists come to holiday in a “dead” paradise that is socially irresponsible as a corporate citizen, recklessness in its psyche, and can boast only of mayhem on its streets? How hospitable can we be?
President Nasheed (Anni) embarked on his Presidency on a promising note, with a commitment to fulfill his party’s election promises. His biggest challenge seems to be to provide sound economic, political and fiscal conditions that would enable the realization of those dreams and his party manifesto on which he believes he was elected to Office.
How important is it for “us” to win and them to “lose”? Are we prepared to sacrifice this nation for us to win!