Written by Mohamed Abdullah
The role of UK Conservative Party influence on Maldives politics and development efforts has to be recognized and appreciated.
Conservative Party activist David Hardingham is a British-based reform activist, missionary, aid organiser and entrepreneur who studied at Dauntsey’s School in UK with President Nasheed. He was founder of the human rights activist organisation Friends of Maldives (FOM), also the co-founder of Minivan Radio and trustee of the UK registered charity Maldives Aid. He was appointed the Honorary Consul for the Maldives in Salisbury (UK) on 2 July 2009 by President Nasheed.
Hardingham was also the UK crossing coordinator and liaison during Guin Batten’s successful rowing across the Zero Degree Channel on 30 March 2010 between Huvadhoo Atoll and Foammulah Island.
One of the development goals of President Nasheed, that was fiercely opposed by the locals was Nasheed government’s drive and ambition to sell alcohol in inhabited islands of the country. The regulations needed for this were formulated and published in the government gazette. However due to local opposition Nasheed was temporarily forced to stop. During President Maumoon’s era Nasheed’s father-in-law’s Hotel Alia was stopped from selling Alcohol to foreigners, when Maumoon brought changes to the law regarding sale of Alcohol in inhabited islands. Sad memories of a determined relentless leader drove Nasheed’s government to declare places or areas as uninhabited islands within inhabited islands, and thus paved the way to sell alcohol in these locations. Even this was not accepted and opposed by the majority of the local population.
As boasted by Hardingham the solution was provided by him – promote guesthouse tourism in the Maldives. According to professional FOM consultants this will provide a backdoor to achieve this goal. Consultants forecasted that within less than 25 years Maldivians will start to demand their government to allow them to sell alcohol in inhabited islands as a means to further promote guesthouse tourism.
FOM was also in the forefront of boycotting Maldives Tsunami Aid and tourism, to pressure Maumoon, later when Dr. Waheed was sworn as president and still is, even during President Yameens’s term. Hardingham explains that only Maumoon was going to benefit from Tsunami Aid and they had only conducted selected boycotting of resorts supporting the governments and that this will not harm the economy.
Another human rights activist, writer and Conservative candidate, Benedict Rogers turned out to be a true friend of Presidents Nasheed. Ben is the East Asia Team’s Leader at the international human rights organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), where he oversees the organisation’s work in the region. Christian Solidarity Worldwide mission is working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice. On 1 November 1999, CSW’s 19 missionaries were deported by Maumoon for alleged missionary work. Hardingham was also alleged to be deported during this time but unable to verify the claim. According to a CSW statement “After the arrests, President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom accused Christian missionaries of deception. He called on every citizen to maintain national stability by standing against “evil plans made to play with hearts and minds”. Just before the arrests the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs called on all Maldivians not to listen to a new missionary program being broadcast by Feba radio from the Seychelles in the local language, Dhivehi”.
Feba Radio is a broadcasting network. It is driven by Christian values and was established in 1959 in the UK. Later in 1968 Feba Radio was incorporated as a charity in the British Crown’s colony, Seychelles. In June 1986, during an international conference in Netherlands, during the ICMC (International Christian Media Convention), with other major Christian broadcasters, Feba entered into the ambitious “World by 2000” commitment to enable everyone to hear about Christianity on the radio in a language that they could understand.
Ben is also co-founder and Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission in the UK and during Maumoon’s era visited Maldives on a fact-finding mission. Ben also released a report calling for the “immediate and unconditional” release of opposition leader Mohamed Nasheed. After the debatable resignation cum coup of Nasheed, when he was jailed, under the leadership of Ben mass prayers were organised by Christian Solidarity Worldwide to pray for Nasheed. Ben is now lobbying in the international community to pressure the Maldian government to allow Nasheed’s participation in the 2018 elections and the restoration of a full democratic order. Ben is an ardent and passionate writer and has written more articles supporting President Nasheed than any other topic in his life.
During the 17th SAARC Summit, held from 10 to 11 of November 2011 in Addu City, the services, consultation and advise provided by David Hardingham and Benedict Rogers to President Nasheed is highly applaudable.
Another loyal activist of UK Conservative Party and human rights defender based in Sri Lanka is Muheed Jeeran, an expert on international political lobbying and strategist. He also actively trains MDP social media activists. He is also a leading figure in developing strategies to defeat President Yameen and bring an alternative leader friendlier to their cause to power.
Even during President Nasheed’s term a senior delegation of Conservative Party (Tory) members flew to Maldives, to help prepare Nasheed, during the country’s first-ever multi-party democratic parliamentary elections.
As described by Ben “President Nasheed’s own long political journey to the presidency began at Dauntsey’s”.
President Nasheed is proudly listed as the number 1 saint in Dauntsey’s hall of fame.
To some in Maldives what President Nasheed did is selling Maldives religion and culture, while to some it is upgrading to a fully democratic modern way of life.
President Nasheed said “Dauntsey’s old boy and girl network assisted me a lot. Its education has served me well and Britain’s private school education has a deserved reputation for excellence”.
Note: Please read next articel “Who sold Maldives?” for a better picture. #SaveFaafu