Let the airwaves be free!

I am a believer that technology, when applied effectively, can be a boost to the development pace of Maldives. However, technology isn't always put to its best use in the country. For example, one of the things that the government has maintained through the years is a strict constrictive policy on broadcasting. They are proud to claim that the (government operated) Voice of Maldives is the sole radio station in the Maldives meanwhile ignoring the fact that they've denied anyone else from doing the same and thus letting the government operation reign the airwaves all this while. (This misdirection is similar to the headlines that feature on the telly and radio news about Maldivian contingents "winning" the third place in sports competitions abroad - the unspoken word here being that the competition was only participated by three countries!)

Anyway, the purpose of this control over TV/Radio broadcasts undoubtedly lies not far from the fact that they are an effective medium to educate and inform the masses. Conservative and authoritative governments often resort to imprisoning the airwaves and monitor the airwaves for anyone breaking this sacred law. The Radio Monitoring Station in Male' polices the airwaves for disruptive use of radio transmitters as well as keeping a lookout for those who dare raid the airwaves with their own content.

I agree that some degree of control over the radio spectrum is necessary and is advised. All governments do have laws that govern the use of the airwaves - primarily to let the spectrum be managed effectively so as to be of use to as many people as possible. It lets radio stations broadcast without fear of being trumped by other nearby radio stations. It lets radio stations broadcast without much interference from industrial and home use devices. Sadly, this doesn't seem to be the case in the Maldives. The sole radio operator is the government using up only a single slice of the radio spectrum leaving the rest unused. Therefore, a policy to restrict other broadcasters could not be for any other purpose than laying a grip on what is broadcasted!

The content currently on the radio is also something I deem questionable. This (government) station has been bombarding the airwaves with their line of thinking, with the limited content they deem worthy. This operation also allows for the intentional (or unintentional) spread of a single propaganda that has gripped the minds of its listeners. What the station deems unworthy or unsuitable for airtime never gets heard by the populace. Additionally, anyone who listens to radio knows that it has been dominated by more or less the same old bunch of people - I know I've heard the same voices for the last 15 years or so that I can recall! The typical content they broadcast throughout the day has been Dhivehi and Hindi songs. News feature on the hour, dictating the government news and activities. English music is scattered sparsely into the day with an additional English-only hour at sunset. Educational programs have typically been far fewer from the many "argument" heavy drama's broadcasted. All this content of course has a sizeable following - after all this is coming from the sole local station in operation and has been the only source of news about the country. Some people even like the content - after all what other choice is there? what alternative have they heard?

It might be high time that the restrictions on broadcasting be relaxed. It might be high time that the masses have access to alternate view points. It might be the time to unleash a radio spectrum full of diverse programming and content. Let it be full of music varying from Dhivehi, Hindi, English, from pop, classical, trance and even industrial! Let people have access to educational content with programs on everything from language learning to electronics! Let it be broadcasting news relevant to people and society!

Are these mere ideals? Does anyone agree with these opinions?

Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom: The astrological portrait

Today is supposed to be the birthday of Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom, who happens to be known by many popular aliases such as The President of Maldives, The President, His Excellency, Zaeemu, Al-Usthaaz (or rather *the*usthaaz), MAG, Maanu, Maumoonu and lately more famous under the monikers The Dictator, The Oppressor and Golhaaboa. I am sure you all know him. First and foremost, let me wish him: happy birthday Maumoon!

I have to admit that Maumoon is probably one of the most interesting figures in Maldivian history. I am impressed by what he has achieved - though I shall take liberty in not being too specific in what I think he actually achieved. He has suppressed (and thus defeated) all opponents for 27 years. He has ruled (and manipulated) the populace of a country for longer than I have been alive. His oratory and literary abilities have captivated much of the population. His presence is respected by many. He has maintained a solid image to the world. He even managed to get a writer to immortalize him by beautifully sculpting a impressive image of himself in a book titled "A Man for all Islands". The name of the book, chosen by him of course, goes a long way in hinting at the sort of person he is. All in all, he seems to have played most cards right. :-P

Anyway, to celebrate the day I decided to share the horoscope of the man himself. I do not know the accuracy of the birth details used to generate the report and thus I do not claim this to be a valid astrological representation of him. All I can vouch for is that this is a professional software-generated astrological report in its original form and that it makes for a very interesting reading. Jump to page 29 of the document to begin reading the chart interpretation texts.

Click here to download the horoscope report for Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom.


There was a comment by someone on one of my recent posts titled "Future of the Maldives: blurry?". The person mentioned the now famous magic number "27", which is used handsomely by the political opposition to refer to the time in office held so far by our beloved President Gayyoom. Now, this 27 year thing everyone shoots off so easily really pisses me off. I would challenge anyone who does this and for good reason too.

Truth of the matter is, it is not only under current ruler that we have suffered. Moreover, it would be unfair to blame the current state of our society entirely upon one person however easy it is. I admit, the boss has to take most of the responsibility, however the blame falls on each of us too. Every citizen is to be criticized for letting it run this far. I recently snapped at a government employee with a high status job. Like everyone these days, he was whining about how pathetic our society has become and how this is to be blamed on one person. I firmly, with gritted teeth, told him to shut up and look to himself. As a member of the older generation he has failed to take stand in his time and in doing so helped pass a society escalating towards self-annihilation. As a member respected in society he has failed to use his influence to better the lives of the people. As a person educated and with resources, he has failed to do his duty to the country and to the rest of us less fortunate. How dare he go whining on and on? This situation wouldn't have come about if it was snipped in the bud before it got out of control. But then, that is bringing in the ?if"s which is quite pointless now...

Maldivian people were under a larger suppressive force under the dictatorship of Nasir. To name one, the Thinadhoo incident where innocent unarmed civilians were SHOT, where children and pregnant women were FORCED to flee to the cold lagoon at dawn are part of more serious atrocities committed then. I have listened to recounts of the event by surviving Thinadhoo people of the time and each time I cannot believe this is an event that took place on such a scale and in such recent times. I have no choice but to listen to them in utter amazement and share their anger that lingers on. Such events in our history have silently been swept under the carpet, to be forgotten. Moreover, thanks to the "richness" of our literature and "effectiveness" of our educational and media institutions, few of the younger generation are aware of these dark times even in our recent history. (If anyone of you have personally experienced this or have close family who did, do feel free to share the experience with the rest of us. I for one, would be interested in hearing more about it.)

Maldives really sickens me at times. Our ancestry begins with pirates, prostitutes and criminals who either settled here or were banished here. Our history has been forged - dark times and the cruelty of people and rulers hidden and locked away in the unmanifest, for heaven forbid that our history have anything but heroics and bravery. Fantasy and magic have been introduced to full the void. The list goes on...

So please, do away with the twenty-seven. Let us all work toward the Utopian Idealistic Society we all dream of. :-P

Future of the Maldives: blurry?

I am concerned about the state of our country. Concerned about where Maldives is heading towards. We are walking in unchartered territory - politically and socially. I doubt anyone has a clue of the future that may bear any resemblance to the actual outcome of all this.

It is not only the final outcome that we have to be wary of. We also have to be careful of the price we have to pay, the losses and the suffering we may have to endure, as we proceed through this current sea of change. To make matter worse, much of the changes seem to be brought in a haste being propelled by a insistent agitated community who really have no idea on what needs to be done and how it needs to be done. The ramifications of the changes being instigated may cause more harm than any of us expect. But then again, this is what it is all about. Isn't it? Taking chances... Leaping from the stagnant state we've hibernated in... Or maybe not? Certainly not!

While we all quietly hibernated and kept our lips sealed so as to not speak of the discontentment, the country had slowly distilled into polarities. Divided into the poor and rich, educated and ignorant, hardworking and lazy, powerful and weak - with the gap now large enough for the moons of Jupiter to be squeezed in. However, the struggle for betterment has now started to amplify. In the now abundant campaigns to appeal and silently subjugate masses to do their bidding, between the wonders of technology spitting out propaganda of the rich and the elite, there comes a cry of help - a cry for real freedom. Freedom from poverty. Freedom from oppression and suppression. For equality. To be treated with respect and honour. For a decent meal. For education and knowledge. Cries for opportunity to climb out of the rut much of the Maldives live day in and day out.

Sadly, it is the bellows of the rich, the powerful, the violent and the obscenely loud that are heard most. It is what is being catered for. It is the less meaningful, less effective, less beneficial transformations/changes that is being given the spotlight. This may be only my view. However, conversations with almost anyone seem to hint of the unspoken cries I mentioned. In chats with closer friends, the despair is no longer caged and they cry - wailing with the same desire to be unleashed from the mental and social prison we've all been herded in and treated unfairly and unjustly.

For now, the future of Maldives is in question and will probably continue to lie in the unmanifest for quite sometime to come.