Umar Naseer: A study in Incompetence

Filed in Features & Analysis by on March 30, 2015

Maldives Home Minister Umar Naseer is confident that he can win at the Olympic 100m hurdles.

He just needs some slight change of rules – firstly, to remove those annoying barriers that get in the way. Having to jump over these numerous obstacles were clearly undermining his goal of completing the race, he noticed.

He has also identified that the actual running itself is a huge waste of time, and if this portion of the race is eliminated, then entire world records can be broken.

umar_naseerAlso, if we were to redefine the term ‘World Record’ to mean..
[Image source: Minivan News]

Of course, what Umar doesn’t realize is that he is no athlete, and should ideally be seen nowhere near any competitive sports.

You know what I’m getting at.

A little over an year ago, the then newly appointed Home Minister said :

We will be taking stronger action against gang related crimes in future…The reason is that we will lose our country’s future if we don’t stand up against all this today… I am ready to take on this fight, all within the boundaries of law.

In the fourteen months since, twelve violent murders have taken place on the streets of Male – four of them in just this month.

Under his watch, my friend, the journalist and liberal blogger Ahmed Rilwan was abducted and hasn’t been seen since.

Under his watch, intimidation of the press has become commonplace; a man attacked Minivan News CCTV camera, and left a machete through the door.

Muaz The gentleman seen here in Umar’s office, to be specific

None of these horrendous crimes have seen a conviction. Regime backed gang members operate freely, while the Maldives Police Service is fully occupied with covert operations, public vandalism , arresting journalists, and framing the regime’s political opponents.

And what does Umar propose in the face of his continued failure to enforce the law? Tossing democracy aside, of course.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 82nd consecutive year of Maldives Police Service’s lamentable existence, he suggested “narrowing constitutional rights” for people arrested by the Police, and doing away with constitutional requirements such as presenting an arrested suspect before a judge within 24 hours.

According to him, stripping people of their constitutional rights at the exact moment when they need it the most, is “for the better of society”.

He is demonstrably wrong, of course.

The regime controlled Majlis has already stripped away, in December 2013, legal protections afforded to citizens accused of carrying “sharp objects” that could be used for committing violent crimes.

It didn’t work. Violent crimes have only skyrocketed since then – 12 murders, and almost nightly stabbings – with absolutely zero criminal convictions.

Generations of Maldivians have grown up without any constitutional rights. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom had thirty years of absolute, unrestrained power. Not only did gangs, drugs, crime, violence and massive corruption take root under his watch – he also routinely abused his power to gag and silence citizens. Much like the regime in place today.

There are excellent reasons why democracies ensure guaranteed rights and protections for everyone – including suspected criminals.

Umar wants to “boost police power” – but we have already tried this. Just a few years ago, law enforcement had all the power. The outcome was tragic, painful – and ended in broken bones, bullets through the head, and bodies found floating in the clear water lagoons.

Maldivians can’t possibly have forgotten the days (less than ten year ago!) when the uniformed thugs of the Gayoom state – unanswerable to anyone – could barge in and take away their loved ones and make them disappear.

Those days simply cannot return.

The experiment with authoritarianism and accumulation of powers has been tried and failed completely.

What hasn’t yet been attempted in the Maldives is the democratic approach, and Umar Naseer has all but admitted that he does not possess the competence to do his job within a democratic framework.

Democratic norms are designed to protect the average citizen from the excesses of the state. The fact that Umar Naseer finds them utterly frustrating reflects his own failures, not that of the democratic principles.

As the paranoid anti-democratic regime clenches its fist further on power, it is all but certain that Umar Naseer will be given the boot, just as his former cabinet colleague former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim (sentenced this week to 11 years in prison on bogus charges)

But right at this moment, it is clear that he needs to resign.

March 2015 is the bloodiest, most violent month on record when it comes to gang crimes. The country has no room for his incompetence.


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