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‘Lack of context’ in voting record website angers lawmakers

The MageyMP site by Transparency Maldives shows attendance and voting records.



Incumbent lawmakers seeking re-election next month have criticised a website created by anti-corruption NGO Transparency Maldives with attendance and voting records over the past decade.

Launched last week, aims “to promote accountability of MPs by providing citizens with easy access to how their representatives voted and ways to contact them,” according to the local chapter of Transparency International.

But the NGO failed to provide context when lawmakers were shown as absent for more than a year since late 2017, some MPs from the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party complained.

After protesting in the chamber, then-opposition lawmakers started boycotting votes in protest against the disqualification of defectors from the ruling party, which was used to quash a no-confidence motion against speaker Abdulla Maseeh Mohamed and restore a pro-government majority.

The boycott continued until the speaker resigned in the wake of former president Abdulla Yameen’s heavy election defeat last September.

Several opposition lawmakers also missed votes as they were detained for long periods during the past three years.

“I want to question Transparency Maldives, what scale do you use to weigh the great war we waged in Majlis against theft, for justice and to secure the people’s rights?” asked MP Rozaina Adam on Saturday after the website launch was covered by local media.

MP Eva Abdulla questioned whether TM had considered whether MPs were in jail or informed of votes. “Were the MPs protesting on the floor? Without context, what purpose does this serve?” she tweeted.

MP Imthiyaz Fahmy accused TM of attempting to “unfairly influence” the April 6 parliamentary elections. “Omitting facts for a full description is intended to deceive,” he alleged.

As debate raged on social media, TM executive director Mariyam Shiuna defended the website as a “political accountability tool for citizens.” It was based on publicly available data, she stressed.

“If you want to or feel there is a need to explain why you were absent explain it to the public, nothing was stopping MPs from explaining themselves before this was republished,” she contended. “The onus is on you to explain your performance to those you represent.”

TM could not “call every single MP to verify and state the reason why every MP was absent or present at every single vote over almost 10 years,” she said, adding that it would have opened “factual data to subjectivity.”

The website includes the attendance of 135 MPs and how they voted on 209 bills since the first multi-party parliamentary elections in 2009.