Opposition's response: Country moving aimlessly towards a gloomy world!

Photo shows MP Ahmed Saleem standing in the the 41st session of the 19 parliament of Maldives. (Photo/Parliament)

Parliament’s minority leader Ahmed Saleem has said that the three powers of the state are tangled and the country is headed in a backward direction of a gloomy world.

The minority leader was responding to the presidential address by the president in the first parliamentary session of every year. The last response to a presidential address in the country was in 2011.

Today the minority leader of parliament, MP Ahmed Saleem responded to the presidential address of president Solih.

Calls to free former president Yameen!

MP Saleem began his speech by calling to free the former president Abdulla Yameen who is in jail after being convicted of money laundering in December 2019.

MP Saleem said that Yameen’s imprisonment hindered the opposition activities and its ability to hold the government responsible. He also said that the main element of a multi-party system was for several competitive parties to actively take part in the “political stadium”.

“It was a step taken backward in a democracy when the opposition leader is jailed. A huge challenge to the competitive political parties. So, I call on the state to release the opposition leader who is in jail.” said MP Saleem.

Irretrievable damage may come from merging the three powers!

MP Eydhafushi, Ahmed Saleem also said that the three powers of the government were influencing each other. He said that the judiciary was still not independent and that parliament was influencing the government. The legal sector was being influenced by both the parliament and the executive, according to MP Saleem.

MP Saleem attributed this to the slack nature of how the government is run and its failure to carry out its legal duties, before warning that this may cause unrecoverable damage to the country.

“This may lead to irretrievable damage inflicted on the country. Article 106 of the constitution mandates the president to arrange and ensure that the three powers of the state are operating independently within the constraints of the constitution,” said MP Saleem.

The composition of the JSC needs to be changed!

MP Saleem reiterated that the judiciary needed to remain free of influence if it was to gain the trust of the public.

“The citizens would only begin to trust the judiciary if it is given the chance to honestly improve. When the day the government stops influencing the judiciary, on the day that the JSC is rescued from the claws of politics,” said MP Saleem.

He said that as long as political figures remained in the JSC, it could not be separated from the political influence before calling for amendments to the law to shuffle the composition of the JSC.

Lack of a balanced foreign policy!

The Maldives lacked a balanced foreign policy, according to MP Saleem.

He said that a policy was the power and discretion a country has to decide things. He noted that this power for the Maldives has begun to fade away.

“The balance of the foreign policy is lost…Maldivians are slowly experiencing that the power of the country is beginning to diminish. If we lose this power, then the chance of the Maldives being enslaved is very real.” said the MP who berated the government by saying that the government’s foreign policy was “India first”.

Calls to increase benefits to those with special needs!

MP Saleem also criticized the government by saying that it had failed to establish a safe environment for children in the country, which was a responsibility levied upon the government to protect the future of the country.

“It is proof that the government is neglecting the rights of children and their feelings when it doesn’t take charge and say something at a time when sad events of child abuse are occurring in the country,” said MP Saleem.

He advised the judiciary to work responsibly to protect and ensure the rights of the children.

“I call on the government to increase the allowances and amenities for people with physical and psychological disabilities,” said MP Saleem.

“Zero tolerance policy has failed”

MP Saleem also said that the number of corruption cases were increasing day by day, which was a concern for the citizens. He also noted the fall Maldives saw in the corruption index of 2019.

“(It shows) That the government’s zero-tolerance policy has failed when corruption increases in the country day by day. It is a worrisome issue for the citizens when accusations of corruption are directed at the highest level of the government,” said MP Saleem.

“The true decentralization system, when the citizens are empowered”

The Maldives was introduced to the decentralization system years ago, and MP Saleem mentioned this point when he said that some leaders did not have the confidence to leave powers to the citizens.

“The ability must be introduced for islands according to the wishes of the citizens in a 21st-century decentralization system. The economic benefits created by the island must go straight to the island. The true decentralization system is when the powers are left to the people.” said MP Saleem.

He was jeered by the MPs of the governing MDP in the parliament at this point. MDP has always maintained that the decentralization system is something that belongs to the party.

MP Saleem then went on to say that he did not expect the government to earn the expected revenue from aids and income. He also said that the economy was shrinking as the government was failing to deliver on its promises.

The government was also not doing enough to combat terrorism according to the minority leader who then pointed out the government's failure to deliver on the promises of cheaper internet prices and housing policies.

“I see the country moving in the direction of a gloomy, undeveloped and backward world. Traveling in this direction would not bring Maldivians to the destination they want. We guarantee that we will remain to work for the rights of the people and change the situation of the country.” said MP Saleem, concluding his speech.