Columns - 5th column

Oh Nasheed, you shouldn’t have made those mistakes

By Rypvanwinkle

My Dear Mohamed Nasheed,

I thought that I must write to you after learning that you are no longer the President of the Maldives and that you had been suddenly ousted in what you call a coup. After all, we are used to Maldivian presidents usually holding office for thirty years and we expected you to do the same!

I heard, Nasheed, that you had been ousted after protests against your decision to arrest the chief judge of the Criminal Court. Now, Nasheed, Chief Judges are very sensitive people and you should have been more careful about how you deal with them.

They may seem to be on your side one day but they may be with the opposition, the next day. Your best bet would have been to pick someone with no real experience as a judge — say, a professor of law, for example — appoint him as a judge of the Supreme Court and then appoint him as the Chief Justice! That way, Nasheed, you could have been sure that he would be always grateful to you.

I am told that the other reason why you were ousted was because officers of the Maldivian Army supported your opponents. Again, Nasheed, it does appear as if you have made a crucial mistake in trusting the military too much.

The best way of keeping tabs on the military, Nasheed, would have been to appoint someone you really trust — a close family member for instance — as the person in charge of Defence. That way, you can almost be certain that no officer steps out of line and even if they try to, you will be forewarned.

Whenever an army officer appeared to become too big for his boots you should have nipped it in the bud, Nasheed. The easiest way of doing this is to find some issue, charge the officer preferably in a military tribunal itself and then send the officer to jail for a couple of years.

I know that would have been an unpopular decision and that people would have protested every now and then — and who knows, even the officers’ wives may appear on television and speak against you — but what is important would be that the officers are in jail and can no longer plot to oust you!

Looking back, Nasheed, another reason for your removal appears to be that you were constantly clashing with your Parliament. You should have never allowed that, Nasheed. Parliaments are very easy to control — all you need is a cabinet portfolio to dangle before MPs who are opposed to you.

Why, Nasheed, you had only thirteen ministers in your Cabinet. All you had to do was choose the most vociferous of your opponents and offer them ministerial posts — or even appoint them as MPs who are ‘monitoring’ a ministry — and they would never have opposed you and you would have been safe.

I also heard that the person who succeeded you was none other than your own Vice President. Now, Nasheed, that too is another mistake that appears to have cost you dearly. What you should have known is to never appoint someone who has ambitions of his own, as your deputy.

The best choice for Vice President would have been some ineffective politician who makes a lot of noise but is really not capable of doing any serious work and preferably someone who is about eighty years old. That way, you would have been certain that he would never challenge you.

Of course, Nasheed, the person who was really behind the moves to oust you appears to have been your former President, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the person you defeated at the elections barely three years ago.

Former Presidents are also a dangerous lot, Nasheed. They never seem to realise that they have lost control and generally go about as if they are still running the country so you must make sure that they are not a threat to you.

One way of doing this is to find some shady deals involving the former President — land transactions that they engaged in, for instance — and have them probed by the courts which would of course find them guilty.

I wouldn’t suggest jailing former presidents because then everyone would say that you are harassing your opponents, but having a case against them sends a suitable warning to them. They then generally tend to mind their own business, although they may still make nasty comments from time to time.

I guess most of this advice is now too late for you, Nasheed. If only you had looked at events in your region and how affairs of state are conducted there and learnt from them, you may not have found yourself in a spot of bother today. Nevertheless, I wish you luck in whatever you plan to do now…

Yours truly,
Punchi Putha.

PS: As I understand, you would now be in the opposition, Nasheed. Unfortunately for you, I can only offer you tips on how you could have acted had you been president. I really don’t have any advice on how you should act when you are in the opposition and frankly, I wouldn’t advise you to look at events in your region and learn from the opposition parties there either because that would be a recipe for disaster and you would not return to power for a long, long time to come!

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