Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gayoom scores another one

If Gayoom hoped to score political points with the national football team's first gold, he must be a happy man today. He seems to have fooled everyone, including the opposition, as he led the nation to a dance calculated to garner maximum support and exposure for himself and cover up those uncomfortable day to day events that just aren't part of the reality he wants people to see, hear, or question.

An unconfirmed report suggests that the high profile child sexual abuse case involving a close ally of Gayoom at the President's Office, which was conducted behind closed doors, may have quietly reached a not guilty verdict.

At the same time, scores of people from Kulhudhuffushi, who did nothing more than demand why the government isn't keeping its promises, have been arrested for allegedly inciting and taking part in the violent removal of minister Ahmed Abdulla from their island. Given well-documented human rights abuses in custody, people have a right to be concerned about the plight of these people.

Meanwhile the economy, which has been in shambles for a long time, has taken another downturn. Maldives Monetary Authority governor Abdulla Jihad is warning of a massive drop in the country's foreign reserves as a result of government overspending, even as Gayoom continues his extravagant campaign handouts. 

Each player and official of the national football team was paid an amount of over US$15,000 by Gayoom. The dictator later said that the SAFF trophy would travel to all inhabited Maldivian islands, the clearest signal that the dictator intends to milk the football glory for everything it's worth for his upcoming elections. 

But this shameful bribery by Gayoom on national television, mounting reports of human rights abuses by the police, the release of pro-government paedophiles, and the collapse of the economy seem to be the last things on peoples minds as the mad frenzy of the football celebrations enters its third day---just as Gayoom planned.

It's a sad day for the country when no one will raise their voices against Gayoom, even though everyone can see through him.

The national football team should apologise to the Maldivian public for selling out to Gayoom by presenting him with the No. 1 football shirt. With DRP's top Gayoom arse-licker Hanim behind the move, the football association of the Maldives has allowed its members and players to show political allegiance to the dictator. 

In the game against India, Maldivian footballers may have outshone in skill and tact, but in Gayoom's political game they've proved to be passive, greedy and gullible.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father of football

Maldivians, for a change, are dancing to dictator Gayoom's tune.  As the sun set today, the entire country, if "Golha TV" is to be belived, was wearing red in support of its national football team in the SAFF final in Colombo tonight.

It should be noted that never in Gayoom's three decades has the Maldives football team clinched a championship, despite disproportionate spending by his government in a region dominated by cricket.

Maldivian football players showed their gratitude at the start of the championship by presenting Gayoom with a red football shirt emblazoned "Maumoon Number 1". This extraordinary endorsement of the dictator is, by default, an endorsement of his government's appalling human rights record and disregard to justice. 

There are those who argue that sport is above politics. But this argument doesn't really apply to a country in which the government controls everything to do with sports, from who gets invited to sit on the stage in the national stadium to the hairlength of footballers.

When a TV Maldives announcer a few years ago expressed support for Gayoom, in a public broadcast, the public was quick to label her "Golha Waleed". 

But when national football players endorsed the dictator, nobody called them "Golha Team".

Maldivians, by supporting the national football team, are turning their backs on the cold-blooded murder of Hassan Eevan Naseem and other inmates in Maafushi jail in 2003 by the dictator's police.

As I write this post, Gayoom is likely to be wearing his football shirt and watching Maldives play mighty India, hoping for a chance to call himself the "father of football".

If he succeeds, most Maldivians will have no right to make fun of him.