Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed has said upholding democracy could not be left only to the forces of economic and political interests.
But rather, he said, consolidation of democracy in the Maldives “must be guided by the vision of the society we desire for our children.”
He made the remarks speaking at the seminar on “Democracy, Enterprise Building, Strengthening of Civil Society and Contributions of Expatriate Bangladeshi Workers in the Maldives” organised by the High Commission of Bangladesh in the Maldives.
Noting that democracy was not same in every society, the Vice President said:
“The kind of democracy we will have depends on the quality of our engagement in the democratic process.”
Speaking in this regard, Dr Waheed underscored the importance of civil society engagement in the democratic process to balance competition and profit maximisation with values of caring and peaceful coexistence in the society.
He said the contribution of civil society organisations to the democratic process is important to inform and enrich the formation of democratic structures with social development and humanistic values.
However, the Dr Waheed noted “our civil society organizations are weak…Their ability to influence public policy is weak, if not nonexistent.
“NGOs do not lobby for positions to change legislations or to influence public policy”, added the Vice President.
He said the government and international development partners should assist Maldivian civil society organisations to build capacity and become independent.
He further said “lessons from Bangladesh will be most helpful in this regard.”
In addition to Vice President Dr Waheed, Special Envoy of the President Ibrahim Hussain Zaki also spoke at the seminar.
Special Envoy Zaki said the Maldives and Bangladesh share a historical, cultural and strong bilateral relations and similar ideological outlook.
He emphasized the immense contributions made by the Bangladesh to the socioeconomic development of the Maldives.
Mr Zaki said the expatriate workers including a large number of Bangladeshi workers in the Maldives play a vital role in the successful delivery of government’s pledges.
The Special Envoy of the President noted the need to strengthen labour laws and protect the rights of expatriate workers in the Maldives, not only in the workplace, but also outside.
Number of local NGOs and government authorities participated in the Seminar held at Holiday Inn, Male’ this morning.