Category Archives: My Argument

Nothing about us without us

The “National Conference on Revitalizing Public Health: Working together for a Healthier Nation” – an event which will happen over the next three days in Paradise Island Resort. Perhaps, a sound public health system should lead to paradise style life.

1. I am not sure who the participants of this conference are. It was not mentioned in the news articles I had read.

2. Public health should definitely lead to healthy individuals who live in a happy place, without the need for sophisticated medical facilities.

3. I wondered if the recipients of the public health system were a part of the conference. I am referring to the elderly, victims of abuse, children and other recipients of abuse.

4. Mental health is a public health issue that is crippling this nation right now. And the principle “nothing about us without us” was introduced and mandated for 2030 SDGs by the CRPD.

5. I am not sure if those who funded and organized the conference are ignorant of the principle, or just didn’t care about it. They must have attended numerous conferences where the principle was in practice.

6. It is one thing to talk about principles of inclusivity and so on. Yet another to have it in the bottom of your heart and mind.

I believe that Shifaza from B. Goidhoo and other victims of the public health crisis should have been in the conference, and it should have revolved around them.

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Posted by on November 4, 2019 in Civil Society, Health and wellness, My Argument, My Concerns, Opinion


From my lived experience

It has been one of those days: reflecting and giving a thought to those suffering in silence, invisible to the world around us. It is a heart breaking experience. Especially for those who have taken the journey of anxiety and depression.

Nothing can teach a person about mental disability than lived experiences. Yet, they are hard to talk about. For good reasons.

Celebrating the mental health day is a difficult event to me, for personal reasons. Yet, it was made worse today, because I came to know of a close person who has suicidal thoughts. They have no way to find help. I know you will give me a list of service providers.

Imagine a hungry person who is almost starving, who does not have the strength or the will power to walk into one of those shining five star restaurants that dot the high street, cos you are worth nothing, don’t have a dime, don’t know how you will be treated or rather shunned out. Would you blame the person for starving?

My friend has a family who cannot comprehend what they are going through. The available help are bureaucracies with rules and regulations and high offices. They don’t reach out to you, they expect you to reach out to them, but you have no strength, because you are worthless.

I was lucky three years ago on this day, when I finally realized that I was not functioning, and sought professional help. I was lucky to have a loving family, friends and colleagues, who became an invisible cushion that I could fall down to. As I took the journey to recovery, I had an employer who was patient for over two years to bear with me.

I also had a family who loved me and cared for me unconditionally for what I am – Villijoali, a family and a home that I went back to every Friday. That was a great part of my healing process. That is why I believe that it is community that helps you to regain your well being.

My friend has none of the above, and they don’t know no better than to just shut themselves out. They are suffering quietly without help to reach out to. They need a helpline to anonymously find their way to peace and well being.

People with mental disability need help to let them find a way out of the pain. A witness cannot comprehend an ounce of the pain.

I am so upset that my friend is feeling so helpless on this mental health day. Because they are not in a house on fire. If they were we will all rush to help. And have resources and trained people to attend.

I pray that we find a way to build a community in which my friend can seek treatment without shutting themselves out.

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Posted by on October 11, 2019 in Health and wellness, My Argument, My Concerns


Mental Health Day thoughts

The country is celebrating Mental Health Day today. Walking, talking, running, posting, boasting, and what not. The person who is suicidal is there in the crowd and watching.

Given up on life, without any hope or meaningful purpose. The only hope for them is the deafeningly loud noise telling them that you are no good, useless, worthless, and constantly reminding of their failures and the ill fate awaiting the next moment, the next day, the next week, the next year, and so on.

The challenge is to act, better than the most renowned artist, to show the rest of humanity what a happy person you are, have been and will be. That life is beautiful inside and out. Knowing well what a lie it is.

It is funny that people around are so eager to help, but they want you to expose yourself first. Then they want to play the pity card.

Life goes on – it is just another day of wearing tshirts, walking, talking, posting, boasting and what not. All that needs to be done is a drop in center and a helpline in population centers.

But they will not do it. It will not be a photo op as grand as the above. Happy Mental Health Day to all suffering.


Building a culture of tolerance and respect

What can schools, colleges, universities, councils, NGOs and scholars do to instill a culture of tolerance and respect in the next generation of our youth?

I asked on Twitter. And there were some very thoughtful responses, including: (i) teachers need to show tolerance and respect through action and role modeling instead of giving advice on it (ii) empathy and respect needs to be taught – above all (iii) teach the akhlaaq of Prophet Muhammadh Rasool S.A.W. (iv) teach to read, learn and understand (v) build national unity on a common vision (vi) introducing nature play weeks (vii) community gardens and libraries (viii) reading to children, and engaging with them and having a dialogue (ix) teach chidlren the value of walking instead of riding on motorbikes.

These are all fantastic thoughts. I am sure there will be many more creative ideas and thoughts. The implementation needs to be decentralized I believe.

Building communities that are tolerant and peace loving and promote respect, should be decentralized and owned by the communities themselves. It should happen and be led at the island level in atolls and ward level in cities.

The central agency for building tolerance and respect should be the respective council or ward boards. Local players should fall within the jurisdiction of the community leadership, and the national mechanisms should provide resources and technical expertise. Not impose, but facilitate on request.

Tolerance and respect can only be sustained when it is the responsibility of communities rather than to serve the interest of officials elsewhere and detached from the communities.

If we don’t act now, we may be faced with a bleak future sooner than later.

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Posted by on October 8, 2019 in Civil Society, My Argument, Nation Building, Society


Prison Break: Who will resign?

I was watching the two o’clock news on TV Maldives on Friday, and was shocked to hear that, the Minister of State for Home Affairs Ahmed Shafeeg has said that “about four prisoners” who fled Maafushi prison last night have been apprehended by the authorities in a nearby island. Haveeru has reported that the prisoners escaped by the threatening the prison guards with the assistance of a gang who had come from Male’ armed with iron bars.

I wondered to myself who would be asked to take the blame for the loophole in state security and the terror that ordinary law-abiding citizens have been subjected to. A week or so ago, The Minister responsible for Maldives National Defense and also Home Affairs, and the Police Commissioner seemed to put the responsibility for the mayhem in our streets on the Prosecutor General’s inefficiency and ineffectiveness.

The question on my mind is “Who will resign?”

We have seen numerous demonstrations on the streets of Male’ calling for resignations of government officials in the recent years. Former Minister of Home Affairs Gasim Ibrahim resigned after demonstrations calling for his resignation and pressure from political and civil society pressure groups.

When are we going to see government agencies made accountable for things they are charged with? Or will this prison break also be blamed on former regime sympathisers in the civil service?

The previous government had put the responsibility for all evil in society on the people. They would say that no one had reported the evils to them. And the Home Minister of the regime believed that gang related street murders can only be stopped by the gangs and they wanted it.

I just can’t help wondering who will be asked to resign.


He Said I Said…

I said:

If this Majlis fails to deliver on what is required of it and uphold the promising new August Constitution, the people should come out and lock the House and dissolve it. People who are paid beyond our means cannot be left to hijack the People.
January 15, 2009 5:33:00 PM MVT

He (Ibra) said:

@Shihab :I would really like you leading the charge, Shihab. About time you actually did something. We have done our bit over tyhe past four years. At least now you can be certain that you will not be beaten and jailed for “dissolving” the Parliament. You know, our work would have been so much easier if you had joined us on Jumhooree Maidhaan on 12/13 August 2004 or maybe you could have joined Anni on Nov 10th to “lock the Majlis and force the members to finish the constitution” while Qayyoom was in full power. Shake a leg, Shihab. And get a refill of the coffee.
January 15, 2009 6:15:00 PM MVT

He (Anonymous) said:

Shihab,You are one hell of a person to comment on this. Aren’t you one of the members of the commitee who oversaw the presidential or parliamentary system. What a farce that was. You directly benefit from people like salih. How can you even start thinking about the good of the Maldives or her people. Go have another coffee and criticize the good people of this country who is trying to do some good things to this country. You are one of those self claimed “wannabe intellectuals” who does not have the balls to do anything but would like to come out and portray yourself as a hero and take credit off the people who shed their blood to get these freedoms. Get a life.
January 16, 2009 7:21:00 AM MVT

I said:
@January 16, 2009 7:21:00 AM MVT:

I know what Ibra means when he tells me to do my bit and shake a leg… and respect what he means…

But I am sorry that you are ill-informed on what I did for the “good of this nation”… And btw it was the Raa Kaaf Committee Elections that I was charged with, and it would be good to find out how it all went… And also find out NEW elements of a free and fair election that were introduced by the committee which oversaw the elections and how it impacted the mindsets of people about the elections that followed… The minutes and documentation should be in the xAtolls Ministry…

And I am what I am today because I did not want to touch a penny that I did not earn…

I despise the current Majlis for reasons I have because I love this nation…

My Note: It is so sad that we attack the person when we don’t have a substantial view on an issue!


Posted by on January 18, 2009 in Comments and Opionion, Majlis, My Argument


Running Mates and Political Leadership

The people of Maldives were given a new constitution by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, when he ratified the country’s multi-million Rufiyaa constitution at 1031hrs on August 7, 2008. He also concluded his final preparations for launching his presidential campaign in accordance with the new constitution just before its ratification. He appointed his colleague, DRP Vice Leader Thasmeen as his running mate to team up with him for the presidential elections.

Other presidential candidates who have embarked on campaigning for the upcoming presidential elections have not yet announced their running mates. They seem to be alone on the presidential trial resulting from a lack of political strategy and informed wisdom. All others except Dr. Hassan Saeed seem to lack sufficient choices for a running mate. He is likely to appoint his New Maldives colleague Dr. Shaheed as his running mate. But Hassan has refused to confirm this, thus leaving room for speculation; which means he can bring on a veteran government servant or businessman to team up with him. This is quite likely as Hassan’s New Maldives colleagues, Shaheed and Jameel seem to have the capacity to support and let their chosen friend lead them – unlike the key players in the country’s political playing field.

The new comer to the presidential race, yet to formerly be nominated by his party to run in the presidential race, Gasim Ibrahim, will have to choose a running mate soon. It is likely that there will be strong competition from within the high-profile team that he has with him. However, with Gasim at the helm, the team maybe more likely to accept his decisions than remove themselves from the party, as has been the case with DRP, PA and MDP. Gasim will have choices though.

MDP Presidential Candidate Anni, who is blamed by ex-party members for bringing down the party to its knees, due to his immature and egoisitic tendencies, now have few choices for the selection of a running mate. He may have to rely on Chairperson Mariya as a running mate. If Anni is to run with her, that would give credibility to him and the party by associating with the global trends in political thinking.

The others who have announced their intention to run in the upcoming Presidential Election 2008 do not have many choices for coming up with running mates other than their close party-activists. But it is becoming clear by the day, that it is not political activism that would win elections, but wisdom and a long term vision coupled with a planned strategy.

The choice of a running mate of a presidential candidate and the process of selection really says very much about the capabilities and the wisdom of the candidate. Maumoon has proven to be tactful and have the capacity to listen to the pulse of his supporters, also steering their pulse and synchronizing with his.

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Posted by on August 10, 2008 in Comments and Opionion, My Argument, Presidential Race 2008


The Road to Anarchy: Part One

The CSC on 23 July instructed the President’s Office to take appropriate action against Mundhu for violating the civil service law by being a delegate in the DRP’s India visit, reported Minivan News in its article “MDP, DRP Seek Indian Support“.

The Civil Service Act is one of several legislation introduced by the Maldivian Parliament to clip the wings of the President of Maldives and to make sure that he cannot be a dictator to his own people. They had only one very noble intention, if we cannot get rid of Maumoon, we will deprive him of his ability to perform. For the Maldivian Parliament (and all the other key players in the political front) the person of Maumoon became synonymous with the Head of State and the Government of Maldives. They had to make sure that he would be so fed up with heading a government that virtually ran through smaller independent agencies which had no control from the President elected by the people to head the government. They were effective in doing this through legislation and the new constitution that the Special Majlis adopted when tasked with revising it to enable a liberal democratic Islamic state of Maldives.

Our politicians lost sight of the big picture and the future of this nation. They displayed typical Maldivian heritage of our passion for living for the day and leaving our tomorrow in the Hands of Almighty. The irresponsibility and lack of character in the upcoming new constitution and the fast-track (baseless and senselss) legislation recently introduced by Parliament has left the country in a state of absolute confusion created by “first-class, five-star” legislation for a third-world people.

The Civili Service Commission set up by the President as required by law, gave hope for a professional body that would regulate and oversee the Maldivian Civil Service. Since their inception they seem to replicate the part of the ex-Monster they represent (the Public Service Division); only far worse. They seem to want to involve themselves directly in minute day to day matters of administration, when that is actually not their business.

The CSC seem to have lost the capacity to differentiate between the Commission and the Civil Service. The instruction given to the Permanent Secretary of the President’s Office by the CSC clearly shows this.

Ofcourse, the situation arose in the first place because of the creation of an Almighty Commission by Parliament. The CSC seem to have put themselves above the law by going against the law that created the Commission, in their appointment of Permanent Secretaries; and no one even dared raise the issue or take them to task. I know you will challenge me on this, because I am not literate in law. But I believe I can read Thaana fluently and understand it as well. The law requires in very clear language that the appointment of staff to the Civil Service should be first on academic merit. The CSC seems to think that it is not practical and therefore decided to overlook Article 5 (e) on page 3.

The Civil Service Law says that it should serve the people, when in actual effect it should serve the government. The CSC should be accountable to the government and not the other way around. They should enable the government to serve the people through the creation of a professional Civil Service for the Government of Maldives. The CSC ensures a professional civil service; it is not the institution that runs the government.

Just like the two recent first-class five-star budgets of the government, the first-class five-star institutions created by short-sighted legislation is edging us closer to Absolute Anarchy! Atleast, that is what came to my mind as I read the Minivan News article by Emily.


Posted by on July 25, 2008 in Civil Service, Majlis, My Argument


Munavvar Speaks Out Finally

Miadhu reported on Wednesday:

According to Dr. Munavvar the two most important tasks facing MDP is winning the forthcoming presidential elections and obtaining success at the next parliamentary elections. He said if he were to speak out on behalf of the party or criticize the government then it will create conflict and will not be in sync with the work of the presidential candidate. He said he believed in providing space for the presidential candidate as he sets out to win this all important elections. >>Continue reading the full report here

I have, since the publication of this article, met with a half dozen people who were not as impressed as me with the content and the substance of what Munavvar had to say, and my impression of the final revelations made by Munavvar in his aforesaid interview. They believe that he is not presidential class. Yet, my contention is that what the whole episode shows is that he does not belong with the masses of which he is intellectually far ahead in design and farsightedness. But then, I would also have to agree that a presidential candidate has to belong with the masses. It is not enough for him to be the best, but he has to move with the pulse of the people. That was what “Meemu Sappe” (Honorable Special Majlish MP for Meemu Atoll) said when he was asked of how he presented himself in the constituent assembly. His argument was that he was a man of the people and his words and actions were manifestations of the pulse of the people. He said that what we have become is simply pathetic.

So, my contention is that democracy is not necessarily for “good” as prescribed in the religion of Islam. It is a system of governance that gives the majority the right to decide what is right and what is wrong, what is fair and what is not fair. It is a dictatorship of those who can rally the majority behind them. And the minority would always condemn the tactics of those who rally the majority behind them – until such time when the masses have reached a level of economic independence to decide their future without being unduly influenced by a handful. Such a day is far from sight, here in the Maldives – a nation which only has a football championship to its credit as a nation!


Layman Psychology: Our Frustration is a Self-Induced Condition

We oftentimes have this feeling of frustration. We also see people who are frustrated, especially during these times of hardship. Some are so frustrated that they cannot stop to listen to anyone. This evening I came across one. The idea of writing this post struck me because I had the opportunity to also discuss performance measures with professional colleagues.

Today, more than ever, we have become living beings that are in a state of fast-track constant communication with ourselves, our immediate environment including the people within as well as those other human factors that influence our environment. We are beings dependent on others and burdened by our interdependence on others – family, friends, colleagues and members of our community including strangers.

In this state of existence, we do things that we feel we are obliged to do for others. This can be in a family situation, a working relationship, or as a part of the community or the larger community – the nation. The things that we do can be simple things like running an errand or as complicated as fighting for the rights of others. It can also be something as time consuming as helping a person to learn a new skill or achieve a major life obejctive.

Oftentimes, the person who is doing the “good” (though unknowingly) feel that they are doing something for which they have no direct benefits; but actions and hard work through which others are to gain more than the person who goes through all the trouble and the hard work. At the end of a prolonged time span of effort, one starts to feel that s/he has to get something back for the good that was done.

That is when we see people asking for kickbacks or paybacks. That happens within families, in places of work, in communities and at the national level.

This attitude and mentality is, however, a thing of the past. It is not civilized human behavior anymore, to demand gratitude. It was an element of the psychology of slavery. Humans are independent beings today. Independent from fears that held them back.

Maldivians are at the threshold of a new dawn that will take the people to that next level – of complete Indepdence. I hope that we will come to realize that no one should ask for kickbacks; nor do we owe anyone any!

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Posted by on July 7, 2008 in Democracy nd Reform, Leadership, My Argument

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