The curious case(s) of our MPs

Are MPs serving their constituencies to the best of their ability and do constituents have enough recourse when they are not? Questions we don't seem to have the answers to.

Source: Maldives Parliament

Source: Maldives Parliament

So the five year cycle goes: “beg, borrow and buy” votes to get into Majlis, all in the name of representing the people and the interests of the nation, and yet, when time comes to proving one’s word, one is deemed beyond question or reproach because, as the phrasing goes, “Honourable Member!”

As efforts to pass an MP recall act in parliament crawls through its various stages before being put to a floor vote, it is abundantly clear, and has been for at least a decade or longer, that the people urgently need the ability to recall corrupt and even underperforming MPs — after all, forgive the crude analogy in an attempt to phrase this in a manner that the political elite may better understand, if a board can vote in a CEO they deem competent, should not the board be able to boot out that CEO when it becomes exceedingly clear that the candidate has proven a blundering buffoon?

The case of the horrible breakdown

Admittedly this starts from perhaps the most regrettable of circumstances. The Honourable Abdulla Jabir, MP for Kaashidhoo, was observed "protesting" outside the parliament building on Tuesday, 5 August 2021, the most recent display of an MP "breakdown." The MP has reportedly been prone to "hysterics" and somewhat outlandish displays before, both inside and outside the parliament chambers, which, observes and colleagues alike, dismissed as “Jabir being Jabir” and therefore not worth of note.

This most recent event has perhaps rightly, put the focus on an important issue; that perhaps, as fellow MP Ahmed Usham (Vilimalé) has highlighted, MP Jabir should prioritise his mental well-being — and perhaps that the whole nation needs to view  mental health issues as one with grave consequences not just to one’s self but to those close and those one may represent.

The case of the poor attendance report

On the more ‘administrative’ side in terms of representing one’s constituents, MP for Meedhoo, the Honourable Ahmed Siyam Mohamed, has consistently had the lowest parliamentary attendance record of all time. The illustrious business magnate holds an attendance record that hovers, on average, below 34 percent — meaning he has failed, grossly, to represent his constituents in chambers, on average, over 66 percent of the time parliament has been in session.

The case of human trafficking

MP for Shaviyani Atoll Milandhoo, the Honourable Ali Riza, stands accused, by the Police no less, of human trafficking and exploiting foreign workers — this coming after over 200 expatriate workers protesting against the RIX Company Pvt Ltd, headed by the MP having “failed” to pay six months of worker salaries, escalated to the point where 13 Maldivian staff were held “hostage” at Bodufinolhu in a desperate plea for attention. The workers had on a prior occasion conducted a client protest to no avail.

Police alleged that MP Riza’s company had violated worker's rights and failed to provide employment fees on behalf of its foreign employees, and that they had sourced trafficked expatriates and coerced employees to continue working with wages withheld for extended periods of time — and those who protested these conditions were terminated.

The case of spousal abuse

MP for Kendhikulhudhoo, the Honourable Ahmed Easa, had been accused by his wife of spousal abuse. Honourable Easa’s wife filed a complaint but soon after requested to withdraw it; the Police, however, decided they would proceed with the investigation with the Prosecutor General’s Office requesting for the MP to be arrested, alleging that he may influence aspects of the case if free.

The Honourable Easa remains “honourable” however, as he has not resigned his parliamentary seat, even though he has been gracious enough to step down from the Majlis Committee on Social Affairs. Stern words, with scant actions, were also purported to have been had behind party lines.

The case of grand corruption

Another shining example among our MPs is the case of the Honourable Ali Azim, MP for Medhu Henveiru and MDP Parliamentary Group Leader. Azim has claimed he has not received any money related to the MMPRC corruption — and that he will resign his position if, and here is the operative phrase, prosecuted, specifically as regards to the case.

Meanwhile a joint committee of parliament, on National Security and the Judiciary, has issued an investigation report which lists the names of those who allegedly knowingly, and unknowingly, received payments that tie them directly to the scandal. 

The list includes four “senior” MDP Members of Parliament. Honourable Azim is listed as having allegedly received MVR1 million.

The case for the voting public

As is clear from the cases above, and from a glance at headlines from recent years, “incidents” surrounding MPs are not limited to just these. There are many issues, from the mundane to those with grave and serious circumstances to the state — all bringing into serious question the current legality, and even moral responsibility of, MPs to their constituencies. Yet the only realistic recourse the nation seems to have is the great five year reset which, comes time, seems to induce a certain amnesia amongst the masses because when “beg and borrow” seems to fail, the third option still feels viable.

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