One thing is for sure. These local councils; the island councils and the atoll councils will definitely increase the state expenditure, as more than 1,000 councillors will suddenly start receiving huge salaries. Salaries that do not match their abilities, capabilities, and qualifications. I’m also not sure whether this change in administration will take us forward in development, or take us backwards. We’ve yet to see.
What I really want to talk about today is, about the lessons that MDP could learn from the results of the recent local elections. As we all know now, according to preliminary results, a lot of atoll councils and island councils have been won by the opposition party, DRP. Not that DRP spent millions, and had the best campaign strategy. Not that DRP had a strong leadership, and good plans for the future. In fact, nobody knew who the REAL leader of DRP is, when people were voting. Still, DRP got so many votes, and almost 500 seats in the elections. Why?
I’d say, MDP has to learn new tactics in winning the hearts and minds of the people in the atolls. If they are really serious about the next presidential elections, they gotta learn well and start winning the hearts and minds. The only reason why DRP has obtained success may simply be because of huge political mistakes made by the government.
Mistake number one: trying to legalize sale of alcohol in Male’. We all know that the people who oppose this clearly understand the invalidity of their argument. A safari boat anchored near Male’, and can sell alcohol, and there’s no problem with it, but, if alcohol is sold in a hotel in Male’, it’s a big problem. That was their argument, those who opposed it. We all know that. Even the government knew it. And so, by trying to allow the sale of alcohol in Male’, what was the government trying to achieve? Trying to explain logic to the people? It doesn’t work that way. In politics, when it comes to sensitive issues like religion or culture, common sense or logic doesn’t matter. The truth or reality doesn’t matter. Say what the ‘majority’ want to hear. Do what the majority want you to do.
Mistake number two: The president saying words like ‘.... nulafaa kan dhakkaalaanan’ (I will show my evilness). We, Maldivians do not expect such words from our President. We want our President to be role model for the young, old and the children. To choose his words, so that his words could appear in slogans, magazines and newspapers. Our president may be very kind-hearted, and a very forgiving. But hearing him say that, makes people start hating him and his government.
Mistake number three: Decision to build a flat on the Arabiyya School land, and having Arabiyya School built in Chandanee Magu. The civil engineers, architects, and the Education Minister may appear on TV, and justify that the new land is in no way smaller than the previous one, and that the location doesn’t matter. But will it repair the damage? The damage done by the opposition, using the media, saying that this government is anti-Islam in so many ways? Why give the opposition such opportunity. Do we need more flats in Male’? Why can’t we build flats in Hulhumale’ instead? As I said earlier, issues relating to religion are very sensitive. Don’t go for logic and common sense. Try winning hearts and minds instead.
I think I’ll stop here, without talking more about the mistakes. Maybe another time, I may continue with number four. I’m not trying to say that I’m an expert in political analysis, and political planning. But, the people who are advising the President and the government, are they any better?