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Page added on June 20, 2012

Comment: The spy who came in from the coup

Comment: The spy who came in from the coup thumbnail

Law and order appears to have gone a bit schizophrenic in  the Maldives in the last few days. First the Maldives Police Service (MPS) arrested its intelligence head, Chief Superintendent (MC) Mohamed Hameed, on charges of ‘endangering internal security’ by disclosing classified information.

Hameed is alleged to have co-operated with the co-authors of ‘The Police and Military Coup’, an MDP-affiliated investigation into the events of 7 February 2012. The report was released in response to the current government’s ‘findings’ into the events, published so prematurely as to be available for public feedback even before investigations began.

The MPS says drafts of the Coup Report, along with commentary, were found in MC Hameed’s gmail account. Nobody has yet answered the question of why the MPS was snooping around in the man’s private email account in the first place. Is it normal for the MPS to spy on their officers?

Then the Criminal Court granted the MPS a five-day extension to Hameed’s detention. He was promptly taken to Dhoonidhoo, the Maldives’ most famous prison island.  Hameed’s lawyers lodged an appeal at the High Court on the same day but he was not granted a hearing until the fifth and last day of his detention. Three Justices agreed unanimously that he should be detained for five days, just hours before the five-day detention period expired.

Now, is it just me, or is it a bit difficult to get your head around the question of why the High Court would deign to deliver that judgement at that particular time?  Three more hours, and the detention order would no longer be valid anyway. So what was the eleventh hour High Court ruling for?

The High Court’s behaviour becomes all the more inexplicable in light of the fact that shortly afterwards the Criminal Court released Hameed. It saw no grounds to detain him further. All told, the judiciary does not seem to know quite what to do, with itself or with a problem like Hameed.

What is to be done with Hameed? Was he ‘spying for the enemy camp’ as some are alleging? Or is he a heroic whistle-blower? Is he to be jailed for life, or celebrated as a voice that stood up for democracy?

National security violation or whistle-blowing?

The MPS is alleging that by talking to the authors of the Coup Report, Hameed had facilitated an ‘intelligence leak’. Here’s a Tweet by pro-government blogger endorsed by  Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz.

Was it an intelligence leak?

The Coup Report does not name any names that are not in the public domain already as having been involved in the events of 7 February; nor does it reveal information a third party had not been privy to previously. What the report seems to have done, for the most part, is gather together scattered evidence already available on various platforms on the Internet and other media into a coherent single narrative.

It appears the authors shared their drafts with Hameed, and he acted as some sort of a proof-reader or a fact-checker. Double-checking what was in the report against what he saw and knew as the Intelligence Chief on 7 February. The MPS says it saw evidence of this in Hameed’s gmail account.

In the absence of an Official Secrets Act or whistle-blower legislation (any lawyer wanting to stop practising the art of silence is welcome to contradict or complement this), what is the most likely legal instrument that would be used for prosecuting Hameed?

The Police Act is a likely resource. It is what the MPS says Hameed violated. The Police Code of Conduct says:

4. Confidentiality

Information obtained during police duty should be confidential and not shared with a third party. Information about police operations and information contained within official police records should not be made public unless their exposure is lawfully ordered.

So, technically, Hameed was acting against the Police Code of Conduct when he liaised with the authors of the coup report.

But, what if he was co-operating in revealing a crime? In such a scenario, Hameed cannot be regarded as guilty of misconduct or any other offence, but becomes a whistle-blower. In the absence of a Maldivian legal definition, let’s go by the dictionary definition:

whis·tle·blow·er or whis·tle-blow·er or whistle blower (hwsl-blr, ws-)

n.

One who reveals wrongdoing within an organisation to the public or to those in positions of authority: ”The Pentagon’s most famous whistleblower is . . . hoping to get another chance to search for government waste” (Washington Post).

whistle-blowing n.

What the Coup Report alleges, and is the opinion shared by tens of thousands of Maldivians, is that the elected government of the Maldives was illegally overthrown on 7 February with the help of police mutiny. If so, providing information on how the police mutiny occurred is not a crime.

Besides, information relating to those events should not be an official secret or classified information. What could there be of more grave public interest than knowing how a government most voted for ended so suddenly and in such questionable circumstances?

Would Hameed not have given the same information to the Commission of National Inquiry if it had bothered to ask him? Would he be not sharing the same information with CoNI now that it’s work has begun at long last? Or is this a way of making sure Hameed is not able to freely speak to CoNI?

If the State were to go after Hameed, there is also Section 29 of the Penal Code:

Whoever attempts to commit or participates in or facilitates the commission of an act against the State shall be punished with imprisonment for life or exile for life or imprisonment or exile for a period between 10 years and 15 years.

An ‘act against the State’ is a term so broad that the act does not necessarily have to amount to an offence to be deemed punishable. The State, meanwhile, is defined as:

the Cabinet existing in accordance with the Constitution, People’s Majlis and collectively all agencies that are entrusted with the administration of those entities. This definition shall also include all property belonging to the State.

So, anyone who does anything about anything to do with the State, which the state deems to be ‘against’ it, can be jailed for life, or banished for life?

Then again, the above definition defines the State as ‘the Cabinet existing in accordance with the Constitution.’ Which means that, if this government is found to be illegitimate, the Cabinet cannot be seen as existing in accordance with the Constitution, and therefore, Hameed could not have committed an ‘act against the State’.

Which brings it all back to the Mother Question upon which all other questions depend: is Waheed’s government legitimate?

Should that question not be answered first before pursuing people who talk about it for espionage and/or defamation? Shouldn’t any information made public for the purposes of answering that question be deemed valuable rather than criminal? Shouldn’t holders of such information be regarded as vital witnesses to be protected rather than traitors to be prosecuted?

Every question that depends on ‘if this government were legitimate’ should take a back-seat to that of how the first democratically elected government ended on 7 February. Especially the question of who is the hero and who the villain.

All comment pieces are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to editorial@minivannews.com

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18 Comments on "Comment: The spy who came in from the coup"

  1. Michael Fahmy on Wed, 20th Jun 2012 6:20 PM 

    The mother question, is the Waheed government legitimate? is a very good question.

    Maldives seems to be lacking in lawyers and judges who can decide and explain such questions.

    As a result, the international community must be asked to answer this question.

    My feeling is that the role of Waheed in the coup against Mohamed Nasheed was pivotal and central. It raises an important question of constitutional law.

  2. soatu lee on Wed, 20th Jun 2012 8:09 PM 

    “is Waheed’s government legitimate?”

    No.

  3. Mohm Shiraz - uninhabited on Wed, 20th Jun 2012 8:58 PM 

    There is so much footage available on internet, youtube.
    From DhiTV, VTV, Raajje, … from Haveeru, Sun … it was all freely available on the net until the regime and the police realised their stupidity and arrogance. On orders of the police state, the regime controlled media deleted the footage first, tampered and then published some of it again … bad luck, too litte, too late. Social media activists of #mvprotest in meantime had copies of most of it and have put in back on the net :-) )) Like this : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xlw_fGrMAQ&feature=youtu.be
    There is not any doubt : it was a coup d’etat, “planned, prepared, executed” by the former and current dictator and his followers.
    Consequently the government is not a government but an illegitimate bunch of bagees robbing and looting the country.

  4. Q2 on Thu, 21st Jun 2012 12:35 AM 

    I notice this question of legitimacy have been address by the CMAG and recently former Prosecutor Maria Didi.

    CMAG, within two weeks of the transfer of power caste doubt on the legitimacy of the process from their preliminary findings by the 3 Foreign Minister panel and “consequently” called for early elections in accordance with the practice in democracies.

    Maria Didi as if in response to Waheed’s Timeline claims the Constitution do not legitimize a Vice President from assuming the post of President under the circumstance that prevail, period!

    It wont be long before we get a hat trick!

  5. ali nahyk on Thu, 21st Jun 2012 2:20 AM 

    when all the media footage and dr.waheed’s own inquiry commission has stated in there timeline that it is a coup, the only thing we need to find out is who is involved and how much are they involved

  6. Abdulla Zayyid on Thu, 21st Jun 2012 4:39 AM 

    The enemy regime is an illegal occupational army. It will be targeted from all directions by every means at our disposal – to the point they slowly starve to death.

  7. Agangatha Mithuru on Thu, 21st Jun 2012 8:00 AM 

    All the signs of a dysfunctional government are here. They take MC Hameed and don’t quite know what to do with him. He is released when MDP puts some pressure on the judge. The rumour is that the judge was shaking with a sudden attack of nerves. Admitedly rumours are widespread in the Maldives, but the fact that they exist to this extent undermines any belief that the systems are working.Maria! Maria! Taking her for questioning without any idea of her intelligence and courage is another big mistake.They had, again, no game-plan. She scored twice at their expense: first by refusing to answer their questions and then using the opportunity to deliver a well planned attack on the regime. Well done Hameed! Well done Maria! Police intelligence? Surely an oxymoron!

  8. tsk tsk on Thu, 21st Jun 2012 10:31 AM 

    First off, Azra casually refers to a pamphlet containing a list of defamatory and unfounded allegations against public authorities, private individuals, media institutions and businesses authored by Ameen Faisal and Mohamed Aslam, and endorsed by Ex-President Mohamed Nasheed, as an “investigation report”.

    A person of her education must surely know that there are legally empowered investigative bodies in every jurisdiction and only those institutions can issue an “investigative report”. While Aslam and Faisal are finding it hard adjusting to the fact that they are just average Maldivian citizens now, the media and academics such as Azra should not perpetuate the lie that anyone and everyone can claim the power to investigate and propagate accusations against individuals in the public sphere. Regardless of personal preference for whose side of the story you believe, the entire Aslam-Faisal report falls under the Defamation Act in our current democratic system.

    Then Azra goes on to refer to the timeline published by the CNI in a derogatory fashion. Whether the Commission’s decision to publish a timeline was politically unfavorable to particular individuals the Commission IS empowered to carry out investigations and therefore anything they publish has official authority. Therefore their timeline ideally should be referred to as such rather than being inserted between quotation marks.

    On to the issue of one Mohamed Hameed, an intelligence official in the Nasheed-regime and long-serving police officer.

    I have mentioned before my thoughts on how and why the Maldives Police Service has become a highly politicized institution with high-ranking officers jockeying for favor from political parties in the hopes that they can secure the politically-appointed posts of Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner.

    I fear Hameed has displayed several signs that he is one of those ambitious individuals with uncharacteristic openness and a readiness to engage with social networks and media.

    There are activists within any institution who take to the public sphere to air their displeasure with and dreams for the reform of their institution. However one would assume that an intelligence head would be highly discreet in both their public and private life. There are issues surrounding Hameed’s behavior and questions regarding the Maldivian Democratic Party’s open support for him.

    When a political party’s supporters rush to defend an accused in a criminal investigation there is no doubt then that the person in question is somewhat of a politician.

    Lastly, I would like to urge academics such as Azra to acquire the resources from abroad to carry out a real survey in the Maldives before claiming that “tens of thousands” believe that the power transfer had taken place in a coup. Such numbers require verification and Maldivian attitudes should be properly assessed. Is such believe widespread? Is there widespread condemnation for such a coup?

    There are numbers however for how Nasheed was elected. I think we all have repeated time and time again that he came to the Presidency with the support of two other popular figures who secured almost the same percentage of public support as he did. Also even with the combined efforts of the Nasheed-Qasim-Saeed camps they barely managed to edge out Qayyoom by securing 53 percent of the vote (Presidential candidates in the Maldives are required to secure an absolute majority of more than 50 percent to get elected).

    So Nasheed barely managed to get elected to the Presidency in a pitched battle rather riding on a wave of support to the post. We can never forget this fact as long as the figures are available on several credible publications.

    I have no issues with Azra stating her opinion while revealing her obvious bias. It is the fact that her biased opinion is being masqueraded as the balanced views of an academic that should be dispelled by the academic community.

  9. ibrahim Mohamed on Thu, 21st Jun 2012 11:44 AM 

    tsk tsk Nasheed was elected democratically with our vote. you cant use the word barely because in democracy barely is acceptable. All video and audio and photographic evidence shows police mutineers demanding for unconditional resignation along with civilians then.If there ever was a coup any where in the world this was a coup! We now have to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

  10. kalhihi on Thu, 21st Jun 2012 2:37 PM 

    ދީނޭ ކިޔައިގެން ޓެރަރިޒަމް ހިންގައިގެން ތިތިބީ ވެރިކަމަށް އަރާ. ދެން އަމިއްލައަށް ޖަލަށްދާންވީނުންތޯ؟
    މިހާރު ވަލިއްޔުލް ޢަމުރު ޗާޗްތަކަށް ދިއުން ވެސް އޯކޭ. މިހާރު ޓެކްސް ވެސް އޯކޭ. މިހާރު ޖީއެމްއާރު ވެސް އޯކޭ. މިހާރު އޫރުމަހާއި ބަނގުރަލާއި މަސާޖު ޕާލާ ވެސް އޯކޭ. ކޮރަޕްޝަން ވެސް އޯކޭ. ކޯޓުން ހިތުހުރިގޮތަކަށް ނިންމުން ވެސް އޯކޭ. މީހުން ފޭރިގަތުން ވެސް އޯކޭ. ފުލުހުންނާއި ސިފައިން އިއްތިހާދު ހަދައިގެން މަގުފޭރުން ވެސް އޯކޭ. ދެން މިހާރު ޙަރާމީ ކޮންކަމެއްތަ؟

  11. tsk tsk on Thu, 21st Jun 2012 3:19 PM 

    I fear the Commonwealth, the government and Nasheed’s own camp disagrees with your view.

    While social networks and the public are heavily engaged in defending their own beliefs across the political divide, our political elite have given in to letting the Commission of National Inquiry decide on the questions of the 7th-Feb power transfer.

    So no, I think the people who matter have not yet decided there was a coup in this country.

    However it is an undoubted fact that there was a police mutiny on that fateful day. No one in their right mind would contest that fact. However our Constitution appears to provide for such a mutiny in Article 64 (Non-compliance to unlawful orders). The legal debate surrounding the operation of that Article must be decided through the courts.

    You have also mentioned one fact that the global media and popular publications have glossed over. Several civilians took part in the protests leading up to 7th February and also on that day. Several members of the public had been on the streets calling for Nasheed’s resignation. This lends weight that there was somewhat of an uprising against Nasheed. Although the fact that a large number of those at the gatherings were supporters of the political opposition would color things in an unfavorable light. Yet the 23rd December demonstrations had apolitical participation as well. It is the highly Islamic-revivalist nature of the gathering that prevents the Western community from expressing outright support.

    We are all learning what is and what is not acceptable in a democracy. The very definition of democracy is of course a highly fluid concept and also culturally relative in its application. “Barely” is acceptable as long as it is legally accepted. There is no legal question over whether Nasheed had been elected President or not in 2008. However there are criticisms of his moral authority in expelling coalition partners after campaigning on a platform of political solidarity. There are also serious questions of moral legitimacy after Nasheed refused to practice what he himself preached about stopping the abuse of government resources for political campaigning, halting the appointment of cronies to influential posts in the interests of power etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum.

    The sad thing is I would be called a fool for engaging in this conversation with you as supporters backing politicians are not concerned about ethical, moral, social or economic issues. Most are ready to commit to follow their “heroes” to the grave and blaze a path of doom and destruction across the whole country while doing it.

  12. nova on Thu, 21st Jun 2012 4:24 PM 

    :@ ibrahim mohamed : Quick question. Why were the ‘police mutineers’ demanding for unconditional resignation ?

  13. SHLO NAIVE KIDH on Fri, 22nd Jun 2012 8:39 AM 

    The mother of CMAG, the Great Britain is going to extradite Julian Assange to Sweden for “sex crimes” just because he blew a whistle!

  14. mode on Fri, 22nd Jun 2012 7:35 PM 

    who care what it is . Matter of the fact is that the dictator had breached the constitution on regular basis and that is the majority of the people asked the dictator to resign.

    We never game the dictator a warrantee to rule the country for 300 years and we voted him to be the president for maximum of 5 year period provided that he respect our constitution and religion and not otherwise.

    MDP thugs need to know anni was elected to be a president not as a dictator but he misunderstood the term and become more like a king.

  15. D McLougan on Fri, 22nd Jun 2012 9:29 PM 

    When one accuses another of “obvious bias”, it helps if one maintains balance in what one writes, instead of exposing one’s own obvious and outright bias.

    Azra Naseem should be congratulated for openly stating the facts surrounding the arrest of the policeman Mohamed Hameed, using her own name, instead of hiding behind the fig-leaf of anonymity. It is surprising, therefore, to see her accused of “obvious bias”, when all she has attempted is to find sense in one of the many issues surrounding the abrupt change of power in the Maldives on February 7 – the sudden and much-denied arrest of Police Chief Superintendent Mohamed Hameed.

    The pamphlet Naseem “casually refers to” does not merely contain “unfounded allegations”; it brings together information available in the public domain to form a coherent narrative. The narrative does not paint a pretty picture of how the current administration got into power, but these are at least some of the facts, and one of the sources is the much-heralded timeline published by the administration’s own CNI. If some of the allegations are indeed defamatory, there is a path the injured can follow to demand correction or compensation, and the veracity of the allegations may be tested. Unfortunately, the current disreputable state of the Maldives judiciary makes any idea of a fair hearing laughable.

    The idea that only “legally empowered investigative bodies” can issue an “investigative report” is surprising, to say the least. Does that mean all newspapers and other media, who file “investigative reports” every day (they are sometimes called “news reports” or even “articles”), are committing illegal acts? Shurely shome mishundershtanding here?

    I recall an “investigative report” in a pamphlet published not long ago, which contained (to my untutored eye) some very serious allegations about the catastrophe facing the Maldives if the government of the day was not removed, the prospects of Maldivian religious unity being defiled, dangers of idolatry, the dangers of Jewish/Zionist airlines, the dangers of trusting Jews, and so on. I don’t recall anyone complaining about the lack of “legally empowered bodies” or other such matters. Tsk tsk, indeed.

    To add to the merry confusion, it has been confirmed that the authors of this extremist and downright anti-semitic pamphlet now rub shoulders with the Jewish spinmeisters hired to clean up the new regime’s image. Perhaps the disgustingly racist and wrong insult that some Jews will sell their mother for a silver shekel unfortunately rings true for this much Ruder and not-very-Huckleberry-Finn. What is surprising is that no pro-Jewish or pro-Israel groups have made any protests over this unholy alliance. The cynically minded amongst us would say “Probably because there’s no money in it!”

    A more interesting question for lawyers with time on their hands is: would a “legally empowered investigative body” appointed by another superior illegitimate body still be considered legal? Another one: Is Chief Superintendent Hameed still Chief Superintendent Hameed? If one goes by established precedent, I suppose the answer would be “Yes,” since there are (alleged) robbers in full police uniform still on active duty while awaiting their day in court. Can Minivan News and commentators clear this up? The possibilities for witness intimidation and manipulation of evidence are frightening. If Hameed was fired while the “uniformed robbers” were not, then there is clearly some politically motivated interference in the Police force.

    I could not see Naseem referring to the CNI timeline in a “derogatory” fashion in her article. In fact, one criticism I would make is that she failed to adequately point out that the CNI (as constituted at the time) was not the independent organisation it was supposed to be, but was actually composed of possibly compromised individuals, and that the chairman of the CNI was connected to the “ancien regime” (not being derogatory here – just failing to be witty) as Defence Minister, as well as to the current Vice President, in a manner that would have made it unethical for him to accept the appointment in the first place – especially if one considers the nature of the latter’s relationship in the Maldivian context. As an example, if you were to judge or arbitrate a case and you found out that one of the parties involved was your roommate of over 20 years, with whom you continued to maintain intimate contact ever since, and that your roommate had helped you with your employment, with the education of your children, with the purchase of your apartment, would you feel it was ethical for you to sit in judgement of a case that involved him/her? Tsk tsk, whatever happened to standards in public life?

    It is true that the Maldives Police Service has become politicised; the events of February 7 provide ample proof of this. The mutiny was clearly based on political influence (possibly backed with cold hard cash) and perpetrators used the excuse of “not wanting to follow an unlawful order,” which was indeed an excuse. There is no provision in the Police Act, Constitution or other regulation that requires police officers not wishing to follow an unlawful order to mutiny, or to take part in forcing the overthrow of the government of the day. This is what eventually happened in front of everyone, so there is no room for denial or equivocation here. It would be mischievous, at the very least, to suggest that the current Maldivian Constitution allows for or encourages mutiny, either in letter or in spirit! This would make the framers of the Constitution traitors to their country! Tsk tsk.. Now, who would they be?

    It is true that Mohamed Hameed is a long-serving police officer, joining the police force not very long after being toilet-trained, and continuing to serve throughout, as far as I can see, without getting involved in controversy. There is nothing in his past conduct to indicate that he was overly connected with any political party (in fact, his only “crime” might have been that he refused to take sides). He was said to be a proponent of more transparent and open policing, so his appointment to an intelligence post is indeed surprising, but perhaps less surprising for anyone who follows the changes in the practice of modern law enforcement and intelligence. After all, this is an era when what we used to know as MI5 and MI6 acknowledge their own existence and even have their own websites. And I doubt if the secrets of the Maldives Police Force run on par with the secrets of a nuclear armed power.

    The MDP’s open support of Hameed after his arrest is not surprising; opportunism is a hallmark of any politician, as I’m sure any truthful politician (do they exist?) would agree. It does not automatically follow that Hameed is a supporter of the MDP. This logic would suggest that, Allah forbid, the current chiefs of the MNDF and the Police are supporters of the political parties that make up the government. Tsk tsk, what a thought!

    The suggestion that Azra Naseem’s assertion that “tens of thousands” believe that a coup took place needs to be verified by “securing resources from abroad” is another red herring (Well, any colour of herring in Maldivian waters should be fine). This figure is quite plausible if one bothers to do a simple count of the crowds gathered to protest the alleged coup (one does not need overseas assistance for this – just an overlay grid, photographs and the ability and willingness to count), or if one looks at the membership numbers of the MDP. This is a non-issue as far as the context of the article permits.

    Instead of calling for more studies for verification and assessment of the numbers and attitudes of Maldivians there is a much, much simpler and more effective test – hold free and fair elections and see for yourself where the answer lies. I strongly suspect that the current government and most commentators know the answer, which is why they try to delay the elections for as long as possible, using increasingly unlikely excuses. Tsk tsk, such subterfuge!

    The election of Nasheed and his problems with the other parties is also a non-issue in the context of Naseem’s article. The failure of Nasheed and his erstwhile coalition partners to work together, and Nasheed’s behaviour while in government, is another confirmation of the old cliché about the corrupting nature of power. Coalitions are not easy but they are often a necessity in politics, and practice always helps. The current ruling coalition is an example of a working coalition of parties and hopefully a sign of some growing political maturity, something that seems to have eluded Nasheed and the other party seniors at the time.

    The current coalition also provides the MDP with an opportunity, for the first time in modern Maldivian politics, to paint itself to be the only party standing up for democracy against what seems to be, prima facie, an alliance hell-bent on suppressing the democratic rights of the Maldivian people. It must be invigorating for members of the MDP to feel that an alliance of every political grouping in the country feels so fearful of going to the polls against their single, failed, party, with a demonstrably flawed leader, that it tries everything possible to delay elections. Ironically, it is this very delay that further strengthens the position of the MDP. Tsk tsk, just look at the demographics!

    Azra Naseem’s article is in a section of the news titled Comment & Opinion. These are clearly her own views, and I see no use in denying that the piece is well argued and contextually balanced. I see no evidence of her “masquerading” her views as the “balanced views of an academic,” or as anyone else apart from herself. Comments trying to paint her views as “masquerading” as anything serve only to betray the personal biases and views of the commentator. One would, of course, expect this from a commentator with political ambitions, hoping to score some brownie points, or with an axe to grind, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, in my humble opinion, it would be a mistake to see the comments as a balanced review of her article or, indeed, as anything other than as a personal comment, expressing a personal opinion, perhaps following a personal agenda.

    Thank you, Minivan News, for allowing all comments from all parties (and I don’t just mean political parties), something I have not seen in any other media publication in your country.

  16. tsk tsk on Sat, 23rd Jun 2012 3:54 PM 

    The frequency with which Azra has gotten her “opinion” published on this section and her ties to the past regime all point towards bias.

    Propagandizing is all well and fine however I think a person who comments under a news article is not required to meet the same standards that a registered publication is held up to. If you feel my comments need to be “balanced” for the sake of the readership that I guess is a compliment.

    A report issued by a registered news outlet is acceptable as you point out and I think it fits neatly into the category of legally empowered bodies within my argument.

    However any publication written by politicians and endorsed by a political party is obviously biased as of course you yourself agree. I think the anti-semitic publication you refer to was issued in a similar manner. So the same applies in this context. This point does not require raising as the public will of course disregard any such reports unless of course that public happens to be supporters of a political party. I wonder why politicians with close ties to Nasheed felt they had to counter anything in the CNI’s timeline with a communications effort of their own. was it really that damaging?

    Acknowledging the existence of an intel-outfit and providing information gathered by that body to private parties are two very different things. If we are to allow our intelligence officials to share phone calls they monitor, photographs they possess and videos they collect to businesses, political parties and just any old person and try to justify it as having been done in a nationalistic spirit then we are walking down a dangerous path indeed.

    The numbers Nasheed can gather for his cause are truly enlightening as you have pointed out. 70 rows of 6 does work magic when all one needs to do is ensure that these columns file down the inner city streets which can barely accommodate two Asian-made cars driving abreast. 350 people terrorizing the streets of the capital city is hardly 10s of thousands wouldn’t you say?

    I think we are both in agreement that several things went wrong in the Nasheed-regime. However people of your particular bent tend to paint them as “slip-ups” and “mishaps” during the honeymoon phase of a democratic transition. Well I fear the honeymoon has ended and we are now experiencing the bitter aftertaste of conjugations that were mistakes in hindsight.

    By the by I could not help but catch the undercurrents in your comments and others. I think the doctor would not appreciate the comparisons you and so many others tend to make between us. I fear someone of his stature would not deign stooping to comment forums. He gets his fears and frustrations formally published on another news outlet altogether. Yet it amuses me to no end that guessing games always end up down that path.

  17. D McLougan on Sun, 24th Jun 2012 10:43 PM 

    It’s either a common error, or a commonly used device (possibly depending on intent), to make glib pronouncements without considering context, but then, as a well-known publication points out, comment is free. The frequency of a person’s publications is not a reliable indicator of bias. If commentators feel one person is contributing too many articles, how about them writing a piece? If the commentator feels up to it, I think Minivan News will oblige (how about it, Editor)?

    I’m not aware of the extent of Naseem’s “ties” to the previous regime; this has not stopped her from being very critical of the previous regime in the past. I would also add that the lack of criticism of the previous regime is in itself not sufficient to confirm bias (once again considering only the context of the article we’re discussing here).

    As I have said before, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with someone trying to claim that Naseem’s article is biased. I’m glad all opinions can be expressed in this forum (thanks again Minivan News). I would, however, maintain Naseem’s article is well argued and contextually balanced, and bias, if any, does not deter from the facts or change the argument. The comments I have seen so far have not convinced me otherwise. Tangential arguments about, for example, who is allowed to publish an “investigative report”, are unconvincing at best. Similarly, emotional judgements, such as considering a comment to be “derogatory,” do not cut it with me in this context. Even if the article had been about the importance of being polite, I would still have had difficulty in finding the “derogatory” part in the Naseem article. And even if the comment is “derogatory,” so what? It’s her Comment and Opinion, after all.

    I do not need comments to be “balanced” or otherwise as a requirement per se – I hope a re-reading of my earlier comments will make the point clearer.

    A disturbingly authoritarian tone keeps creeping in when one continues to talk of the issue of a report issued by a “registered news outlet”, and that this is a “legally empowered body” for the purposes of issuing an “investigative report”. My apologies for my attempts at sarcastic wit being taken too literally. Let me make it clear. There is nothing wrong with anyone issuing an “investigative report,” and a “legally empowered body” is neither a compulsory nor necessary requirement. It is up to the reader to decide on its credibility; many “legally empowered bodies” are, in fact, constituted to whitewash or hide serious crimes with their “investigative reports”. To imply that only a “legally empowered body” may issue an “investigative report” is simply comical, and there is a touch of Mr Micawber meeting Mr Bumble to continue to labour this point.

    The commentator’s point, regarding any publication written by politicians and endorsed by a political party being biased, is interesting. Given this (and in the absence of qualification), all legislation in Parliament, which is written by politicians, and endorsed by political parties, must be biased. Any reports issued by politicians, such as in parliamentary oversight or audit committees, which are endorsed by political parties, must also be biased. Interesting, and well worth considering. The assumption implicit in this statement is that self-interest must always be placed before national interest. Would Ayn Rand have approved?

    Will the public “always disregard such reports” (with the exception of supporters of the political party)? By this argument, the CNI report is already a useless document, as would be the case for any other document endorsed by any political party. Surely the public is not so fixed in its prejudices? But then, maybe it is. Another point worth considering.

    I would suggest that a document that provides a coherent narrative should be worthy of a read, regardless of political hue. The reader may then choose whether to believe or to discard. To me, the anti-semitic pamphlet was not believable, whereas the narrative provided by the “coup report” does seem plausible. I don’t accept that bias and plausibility need to be mutually exclusive; the tests to be applied may have to be more stringent, depending on content and context.

    The truth about whether any useful or damaging information was provided by Chief Supt Hameed to outside parties will probably never be known. The claims made by the Police and political parties could hardly be seen as credible or independent under the circumstances, and such matters (intelligence, no less!) would, maybe even should, normally be subject to obfuscation anyway. However, when one considers the policeman’s long service career and the fact that he has served during two very different regimes (allegedly until this incident, at least) without blemish suggests that he is neither a tattle-tale nor the leaky faucet he is painted out to be.

    The point about the sharing of of phone details, video etc. with businesses and so on is a valid one, and justifying the sharing of Police information and facilities in “a nationalistic spirit” would indeed be walking down a dangerous path. It is debatable and remains to be seen if it will ever be convincingly proven if Hameed did do any of these things. However, and regrettably, we can see that such events have already taken place, with apparent impunity. Police facilities, plus Police weapons (including batons and pepper spray) were indeed either “shared” or “given away” to selected members of the general public, and Police facilities were provided for other select members of the public, within the bowels of Police HQ, to watch the scene unfold, and possibly to give orders and co-ordinate the action, as the government of the day was brought down. Police personnel were provided to take over the state broadcasting facilities. Since the “dangerous path” is already well-trodden, I wonder what is to be done about it. I’d like to thank the commentator for pointing this out.

    There is ample evidence in the public domain to support the “tens of thousands” claimed within the context of Naseem’s article. In any case, it is quite clear the number involved in the protests far exceed the “350” claimed, and I think the reference to Asian cars can be considered “derogatory” in this context (Sorry, Lexus!). A poor attempt at sarcasm by the commentator (almost as bad as mine), but not quite correct as far as this debate is concerned.

    Coincidentally, the figures of 350 and 420 (70 x 6) neatly bracket the number of people (including uniformed persons) I counted (391) gathered in the area in front of the MNDF HQ around the time of the change of government (from several sources – links on several media sites).

    Once again, as mentioned before, the way to obtain a definitive answer to this question is simple and obvious: F&FE (No, it does not mean Furniture and Fittings Excluded!).

    As to the nature of what the commentator meant by “Nasheed’s cause”, I’m not quite sure what that means. If it means Nasheed’s desire to return to power, perhaps only the supporters of the MDP would back him. If it means the call for the holding of free and fair elections, I suspect the numbers would be considerably greater. As I mentioned in my previous comments, the MDP are well placed as the only political party in the Maldives to embrace this cause.

    I agree that several things went wrong in the previous regime, but I’m not clear as to what type of “bent” I’m supposed to be! Well, opinions are the prerogative of the holder, so here are my thoughts. Indeed there were slip-ups and mishaps, as can be expected in the transitional phase in any country (look at Obama and Cameron/Clegg(!) if anyone is smug enough to think this does not happen in “developed” countries). In addition, there was down-and-out incompetence, favouritism, corruption, mistakes… the list could go on for some time. However, one can’t deny there was also a good side, and many changes were indeed made for the better. In my humble opinion (IMHO), real efforts to end police brutality, and the permitting of free expression without fear of torture, were positive achievements. The failure to investigate serious past crimes, and a failure to contain corruption, were conspicuous failures. Ironically, the suspects implicated in the failures seem to have been the main beneficiaries of the successes, no doubt owing a considerable debt to (or recalling markers from) a compliant and somewhat co-operative judiciary!

    The test of where Nasheed’s record stands in the balance would have been free and fair elections at the prescribed end of his term. However, again IMHO, there was nothing the previous government did that justified a forced overthrow through what appears to have involved subterfuge and mutiny.

    There are similar positives and negatives in the case of the new government, but unresolved questions and increasing evidence that further questions its legitimacy (to the extent that Waheed has now said he would hang on even if it was proven to be a coup, but without evidence of his involvement!), weigh heavily against it.

    All this, of course, would be resolved by free and fair elections. But, and yet again IMHO, this would be only a first step. Problems abound : Constitutional amendments, cleaning up the judiciary, tackling the issue of corruption, restoring professionalism to, and removing politics from, the uniformed services, restoring the economy to a sound footing, the list can be as formidable as the task. However, to paraphrase the Chinese proverb, it has to start, and not end, with the first step.

  18. so funny on Fri, 29th Jun 2012 12:52 AM 

    The comments here are longer than the actual article. LOL ! I wont be bothered to read any!


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