Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Maldivian Way or The High Way

Ever wondered what is meant by the Maldivian Way of doing things? Let me try highlight a few pointers on some of the things that have stood the test of time!

I did experience an era in which most of us lived in some sort of poverty. An era where you get a fully rationed biskoadhu and a cup of tea for breakfast. An era where you had only one uniform to wear for school. But before long, even I as a kid started experiencing the fair share of luxury from Gold Cup boots (to be worn at school) to riding the best of Motor Cycles. Lets have a look at some of the things that are significant enough to form the very basis of my initial question.

First there was Giffili which we obviously have had the negative experiences. When the so called faahaana came to the picture, every house invested on more than what was required. Every room needed an attached toilet!

I remember the times when I used to go to the house next door to make fone calls when Dhiraagu for the first time introduced the fone service. Once again before long, every individual ended up with a number of their own.

Television shared the same story. Its not only the sitting rooms that required a television, but most bed rooms had to have a television of its own. Probably the early 1990s saw the introduction of satellite channels, that black Dish that was the wholemark of every roof in male! No matter how rich or how poor you were, it soon became a basic necessity!

Late 1990s saw the coming of Mobile phones to the market. Every Maldivian, big or small, male or female, had to carry one in their pockets. And stop me if I am wrong, whether you earned a few hundred rufiyaa, you still claimed that you could afford those luxuries! A look at today reveals that, way before apple introduced its iPhone, most Maldivians had one in their pockets! Well … that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but you got the point right?

Look at the role of taxis in Male. Ofcourse it is a tiny little island but then again you couldn’t go from Henvieru to Maafannu on your foot! It has to be the taxi! What a way to live a life.

Add to this list how some of us spend weekends in Sri Lanka, buys flat screen televisions, wears a tag or another expensive watch, takes breakfast in cafĂ©’s or perhaps can afford to pay Mrf40-50 for a coffee two or three times a day!

Living life in Male aint for the faint hearted for sure. Even world renowned economists wouldn’t have a clue of how the Maldivians function! They’d be amazed by what we do with what we earn!

I know that the list could go on and on and on. I am sure you’d have many more to add to the above list. Before I pen-off, lets have a look at what we have done as a nation to see whether we can depict any similarities.

I am not going to mention about the luxury yacht of the former president, nor am I going to dwelve on the expensive palace that he built to support his luxury life style. But lets take a look at two, quite extraordinary events. One which has long been history, and the other that’s not going to take too long before it finds its way into our lifestyles.

Passports! Obviously we all need a passport to travel. But what amazed me most was the fact that we were one of the first 10 countries to introduce e-passports to its citizens! Ofcourse there’s a price tag in obtaining these passports and that price would obviously be paid by our Governments!

Lastly to the more recent. But before I mention what this recent activity is, lets first paint an important picture. Just like the individual we depicted in the opening paragraphs who had to have that black satellite Dish on top of their roofs (discarding the question of affordability), we as a nation are living or perhaps moving into times that might question our affordability as a nation more than what we used to before. Just imagine this scenario; our politicians go to the world democratic market where they can buy and sell democratic products. The best ones would obviously have a price tag that’s as fat as building a gold palace or buying a luxury yacht. They check all products on sale and decides, hey hang on a minute, this Decentralization Program has it all from accountability to effective decision making. Lets buy it cos we as Maldivians would buy the best regardless of whether we could afford em’ or not!

I know … I know … not all would agree with me. But guys, I base my conclusions on facts which are clear and unambiguous. Facts which even the common man could agree or comprehend. From what I see, I tend to believe that the Maldivian Way has its flaws and when times calls for tough measures, I think our very own ways will tend to harm us more!


  1. So, it means decentralization may not be the way to go for Maldives at this moment?

  2. I've noticed also that most maldivians ain't fully aware of the economic crisis the rest of the world is going through

  3. I agree, we have been a nation that has been living beyond its means for a quite sometime,but the honey moon is over now, we simply cant survive with another billion rufiyaa defecit budget of which some good 70% is classified as recurrent expenditure.
    The greates threat to our economy isnt that we r a nation that is so dependent on tourism and all our major markets are in recession or that we dont have enough reserves,but it is we ordinary Maldivians have no idea of what is going down beyond our shores.
    If they know and can comprehend what is actually happening the teachers union or other civil servents will not have asked for 60% pay rise.

  4. I wonder whose job it is to create this awareness, and let the teachers and civil servants know that we cant afford to increase the salaries like the way we are doing now.
    Government also needs to realise that it has to reduce the political appointees and also to reduce their salaries.

  5. We have been taking the risk and surviving from the time koimala kalo landed in the shores of maldives to this day. We have that in our gene, its in our culture and to change this would be very difficult. The other thing is save the money for what... if we put them in the bank, they give loans to people like buruma Qasim or Mina kudey. What's there for the ordinary person. We have got to ensure the people that the regulatory bodies will function properly and then ask people to support rules and regulation. Until now tax law has been crumpled and thrown to the conner to please the tycoons like koli mohodhey, champa afeef, buruma Qasim, Maizan Adam Manik, Cyprea Saeed and Salah shihab, who had spend millions in the election to influence the elected government.