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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Integrity and equality must start at the top", said Nasheed

WATER WORLD: The island of Male is a densely packed conglomerate of buildings that is the capital of an archipelago of nearly 2,000 islands spread over 90,000 sq km.
WATER WORLD: The island of Male is a densely packed conglomerate of buildings that is the capital of an archipelago of nearly 2,000 islands spread over 90,000 sq km.

After giving his speech on Thursday in the resort island of Bandos, Nasheed stepped out for refreshments. He waited in line for tea, there were no sycophants and sidekicks trying to obsequiously usher him to the head of the queue. He waited like everyone else, and everyone left him alone because they knew he didn’t like the fuss.

Later, during an interview at his modest official residence in Male (he has refused to move into Gayoom’s luxurious presidential palace, which he has bequeathed to the Supreme Court) Nasheed denies he is doing this just for effect. “Integrity and equality must start at the top,” he explains, “but I am also trying to make sure that the government doesn’t cost the taxpayer more than it should.”

After he was elected to office in 2008, Nasheed drastically cut the size of the presidential secretariat, reducing its annual budget from 400 million rufias a year to 27 million ($1=12 rufiya). What a change from Kathmandu where the first priority for every new ruler is to increase the size of the cabinet, award themselves perks, facilities and junkets. Last year, Nasheed initially cancelled his trip to Copenhagen for the Climate Summit in order to save money and only decided to go after the Danish government insisted on hosting him.

It’s not just the president, most Maldivian ministers impress visitors with their grasp of the portfolios they head. The reason is that the president appoints technocrats to ministries, not cronies from his own party or members of parliament he needs to appease. Which is why the Maldivian minister of health has a PhD in nursing, the education minister has a PhD in education, the minister of the environment has a geography masters from New Zealand and the vice president is a public health doctor who once worked for UNICEF in Kathmandu.

From an article of Kunda Dixit in Nepal Times. More Here.

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