As I mentioned last week, I am sure many people are not thinking too hard about politics this month-they are watching the current European Football Championship.
by Dr Hassan Saeed
But I was reminded of football when I saw the very different reactions to the publication of the National Enquiry Commission timeline last week. It was like two sets of supporters who witnessed the same goal but had equally strong and diametrically opposed opinions about whether it was off side or not…
However the football analogies don’t stop there. We appreciate the skill of the players and also applaud fair play. I think we would all agree football works best when the players follow the rules, have respect for the other side and heed the rulings of the referee.
It would be really wonderful if our political process operated the same way. However this week we have the MDP claiming they are being ‘intimidated’ through the legal system, simply because the Defence Minister speculates that officers of the MNDF might seek a legal remedy for what they perceive as untrue and libelous statements on the part of the MDP. In fact, all people are doing is following judicial rules, no different to the way a referee has to interpret footballing disputes on the pitch.
This is particularly ironic when coming from the MDP. They have a track record of behaving like one of those bad football teams who wants to intimidate the referee through encouraging continual pitch invasions disrupting the match! This is the football equivalent of their demonstrations and occupations both before and after the 7th February. Even worse, at an earlier ‘match’ we saw former President Nasheed, their Captain, when he was on the pitch, attempting to kidnap the referee – which is essentially what his arrest of Judge Abdullah Mohamed amounted to.
Nasheed and the MDP are thus completely hypocritical in their judgment over who is doing the intimidating. In the end the bad football teams and their players who seek to cry foul and roll around of the pitch when not really injured are shunned by true fans of the game.
Real football fans will not tolerate bad behaviour on the pitch no matter which team they support. They want to protect the reputation of the game. The same should be the case for those who are genuinely interested in building democracy in the Maldives. If the MDP continues to dive, call foul and invade the pitch to disrupt a game they are losing then I think they will get a red card from the Maldivian public when elections are held next year. In the meantime, enjoy the championship.
Note: Dr Hassan Saeed is currently the Special Advisor to President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik