Everyone knows that the Maldives Foreign Minister Abdullah Shahid has been one of the most active foreign ministers in recent history. He has been credited for getting visa on arrival for Maldivians for few countries. However what people do not know is that much of this success has to be credit to the hard work done by previous diplomats from PPM, as well as MDP diplomats even before that.
Can the 10 years of meetings, negotiations and diplomatic relations work done by former PPM and MDP politicians be discredited? Can all the credit be taken by the Minister Shahid that happens to be the Foreign Minister just when the final G2G (government to government) agreements are ready to be signed?
In addition to that, sources within MDP and transparency advocates say that they are concerned that the Foreign Minister Shaahid has been expanding the number of staff in Maldives Embassies without looking at cost, as well as appointing new Ambassadors without taking into consideration on the country’s financial difficulties.
Reports of local party activists and people who has no experience in influencing foreign governments are being given various positions in Maldives diplomatic missions around the world are worrying.
Sources within MDP also indicated two possible reasons for this. First is that these positions are given in return for loyalty of Minister Shahid’s potential candidacy for Presidential elections. Since he does not have the natural attraction of voters to win a Presidential election, especially now since voters are more concerned about domestic economy and failed government promises.
This leads to the second possibility, which is to gain enough personal political influence in order to demand any future government to appoint him as the UN representative from the Maldives.
It is important for people to know the full details of the expenses by the Foreign Ministry from 2019 to now. With all the money spent, the people of Maldives whose tax pay for minister’s salary, should know if their money is being spent effectively. The people should be able to judge for themselves if the President had invested correctly on his choosing of the foreign minister. For example, how much of foreign government’s financial assistance, development aid, and covid-19 aid assistance did we receive? Then let us compare this with the amount of money spent by the Foreign Ministry to achieve these results. If our cost of this expanding foreign ministry expenditure is extremely high, compared to the results achieved by it after nearly 2 years, the result does not look for the government.
Some might argue that 2 years is not enough to achieve the goals needed. However, we also argue that within 2 years lack of realistic achievement was because of improper planning, lack of training for our diplomats, lack of know-how on diplomacy and lobbying by the foreign ministry itself.
What might have happened, if instead of giving party activists foreign diplomatic jobs, we had given these jobs to Maldivians that have lived overseas for most of their lives and from them, selected those that already has established significant good relations and trust with foreign governments. This could have cut down the time needed to achieve Maldives relations with other governments by half or more. This could have also made a big difference of Maldives getting the Covid-19 emergency aid and supplies by foreign governments.
With all this, we the Maldivian people should question just how much of our tax money has been wasted by the foreign ministry and exactly what has been achieved so far based on profit and loss? People’s tax money is part of their hard-earned living. So, when the government decides to waste it, those who voted for this government have all the right to question if the President had invested in the right foreign minister?