Mohamed Nasheed: Political activist-turned-Head of State
Photo sources: Google Images & President’s Office website
President elect, Mohamed Nasheed isn’t a new face for MPS officers. In his efforts to bring democracy to Maldives since 1990, the security institutions of the state, namely MPS and MNDF, acted to hinder his political aspirations. The rationale was that his aspirations and actions were in conflict with the laws of the land. We have witnessed heavy handedness or disproportionate use of force by members of these institutions on those who opposed Maumoon’s government. Those images are still afresh in our minds.
In my police career, I have met Mohamed Nasheed on two different occasions. In the first (a day Mohamed Nasheed got summoned to police), I was given an order by a high ranking officer to escort Nasheed to one of the interviewing cubicles on the first floor of MPS Headquarters. He showed resistance and on my superior’s order I had to use “soft hand technique” to escort him there and after climbing the third step of the staircase, he asked me to let go of his hand and I complied. The second was in 2007, the day masses gathered at the New Cemetery in the case of Hussain Solah’s death. I stood in the middle of the crowd and Nasheed was standing inches away from by face and said many things with anger. I just stood there without saying a word. The same day I had to order a subordinate who held Nasheed’s collar to leave him and put hand cuffs if he had orders instead of using unnecessary force. What I am trying to highlight here is that most officers working in the frontline would have met Nasheed in political rallies or in so called public disorder situations. We have to admit the fact that in some instances we misused our powers (powers that were not even legitimized then).
On 11th November 2008, Mohamed Nasheed would become the helmsman of our beloved nation. He would become the chief commander of the MNDF and MPS. Not many would have predicted this to happen. Therefore it is necessary for MPS officers to accept our new leader, the leader who promised us prosperity, the leader who became a leader after a long struggle as a political activist.
This should be a lesson for us to learn. A lesson that tells us policing is a job that requires one to be fair and conscious. Police not only have legal powers but discretionary powers. This is where we put our minds into and not just say “YES Sir” to every order we get from a superior. We can’t just swing our batons or spray the OSC on people’s eyes. This kind of irrational and unprofessional attitude and behaviour has given nothing but hatred from our own people and the brand name “Golhaa Force”. Our actions have to be proportionate, legal, and necessary and for that we have to be accountable. We are obliged to protect people not a regime. There are still many people in MPS who believe this kind of approach is “soft policing”. I say to them Wake Up! This is the era of change. Policing paradigms are changing and nations are looking into innovative ways to keep their people safe from contemporary threats. This is done by wide consultation with all stakeholders. The notion, “policing is of the people by the people for the people” is not just a lofty ideal that one must recite like a mantra. It is also an ideal that can be achieved when we work together for that ideal. We can’t just stick to the traditional, hierarchical and militaristic philosophy and culture that we borrowed from NSS.
MPS officers, stop calling yourselves “Ganjaa Force” and awaken into this new era of change. The nation has just embraced democracy so we better gear up for a democratic policing paradigm. It is in the interest of the nation you serve, not in individuals or a group that you like.