The political process affects us all and can make a real difference to people's lives. Politics should be about real things that matter to people. But do politicians and the public talk about the same things, even when both are focused on the issues?
by Dr Hassan Saeed
I say that when we are heading into a period when matters other than politics are likely to be at the forefront of ordinary citizens minds. I'm talking about the Euro Football Championship and of course Ramazan.
This natural break presents an opportunity for politicians to review how they operate.
Let me give an example of the different priorities for the public and politicians. I posed myself the question "What was the most important event in the Maldives last week"?
• Was it progress on the Commission of Inquiry?
• Was it the All Party Talks?
• Was it the vote of confidence in the Majlis in the Speaker?
• Was it MPs swapping parties?
• Was it the drama on Usfasgandu?
No, it was the fatal stabbing of 16 year-old Mohamed Arham. Not only was this a young life cut short and an appalling tragedy for his family but it is also a reminder to us all of what the focus of politics should be about - tackling society's ills and problems. This issue is actually what ordinary people expect their politicians to be focussed on. Yet as family and friends grieve the loss, the political process grinds on and point scoring continues about events of months and even years ago.
Are politicians addressing the issue of security in our parks, the level of police resources or addressing issues such as crime where young people are as much the victims as well as the perpetrators?
Are politicians even considering how their own activities impact on public policy, let along putting across suggestions for improvements? After all, Police resources are finite and politicians do need to be wary of stretching those resources by continuous protests when we have these other serious matters to tackle?
This illustrates the problem that much of the political news this week has focussed on process. The process of the Commission of Inquiry. The process at the All Party Talks. The process of a no confidence motion. But there has been little attention on outcomes, which is what the public will in the end judge politicians on. For example are criminals caught and is our society more secure?
Take the Commission of Inquiry. Do we really believe that the acceptance of Ahmed Saeed by the Government as the MDP nominee to the Commission of Inquiry has solved the problem of its credibility? Is it more or less likely to ensure that people will accept its outcomes? In fact it will give some an opportunity to dismiss its conclusions if they don't turn out as they would want.
Given the polarised opinion on the events of February do we think it is likely that citizens will be able to put aside differences and move on at the end of the process? Will a single mind be changed on the subject?
This is what happens when there is too much focus on process and not enough on real outcomes. At the end of the day getting the right process won’t solve the problems of the country- it needs a sincere commitment from all sides to genuinely try and heal our divisions.
We always need to be asking ourselves 'how will this action lead to a more stable, peaceful and united country?' Rather than trying to appease any particular faction.
Those two months of Euro's and Ramazan are when issues other than traditional politics are at the front of people’s minds. The one a reminder that life is to be enjoyed the other a reminder that there is more to human fulfilment than the pursuit of power.
They provide a serious opportunity for reflection. On the needless loss of a life and whether we could have done more to prevent this; and also on whether the focus of our politics in future should be much more on what really affects people’s daily lives.
Note: Dr Hassan Saeed is currently the Special Advisor to President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik