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Notes from 'Memories of Mohamed Ameen'
by Aminath Faiza
Maldives 1997



Ameen said the first constitution was unworkable because it was designed for a colonial government, 'an inferior government', like Ceylon's, and heavily influenced by the British and the Egyptian models.

While the constitution was being written, on 22 September 1932 (Abdul Majeed had resigned from everything at sunset on Sept 14, and an all night meeting at the palace, without Majeed, had followed), king Shamsuddeen summoned Mohamed Fareed, Hassan Fareed, Ibrahim of Noomara Palace, Saeed Abdullah Doshisidi, and Hussein Salahuddin. The king said he intended to set up an advisory committee to run the Maldivian government. And the members of this advisory committee were those people now present.

The new committee suffered from the lack of personal input from Majeed who had 30 years experience in government. The king wrote to Majeed saying he had set up a committee, and asking for Majeed's advice and help, telling him he was considered a member of the committee too.

Majeedi's reply was brief and clear: he accepts whatever the king and the leading people in the government think is correct, and that he had already made a full written representation to the king on the matter. (Ameen himself could never find a copy of this letter.)

....................

Hussein Hilmy Didi suggested that a raivaru be written for the final part of the constitution:
'Do not play with gunpowder,
you will be burnt before you realise,
o my child, you may get burnt.'
Ameen commented later this raivaru was very appropriate.

Some of the advisory committee hit the roof, 'went up to 80', when Hussein Hilmy made this suggestion, and it was eventually decided to use an Arabic testimonial.

....................

It was decided the new constitution would be announced with full ceremony, 'as perfect as possible'. To complete the occasion, the king's son Hassan Isaddeen was required to attend and a boat called SS Barjoara was chartered a few days in advance. The boat arrived in time but without the prince. So his place was taken by the king's half brother on his father's side.

The king announced the new prime minister, and the chief treasurer was Mohamed Fareed. Treasury, finance etc. went to Hassan Fareed, and Justice to Hussein Salahuddeen. Ahmed Kamil Didi was Home minister, Religious affairs and Education. In charge of Labour, Food, and Handicrafts was Mohamed Didi (Majeed's brother). Ameen was given Trade, Customs, and Post. Ibrahim Ali Didi was made minister for Health and Mosques.

....................

During ceremony, civilians wore red sarongs and white shirts and handkerchiefs. Those in the constitutional committee wore beautiful white sarongs, white shirts, and purple thakiha (fez).
Ministers dress discussions were disrupted by the sad news of the death of the previous king of Maldives in Cairo. His rule was seen as a sad and dark time for the Maldives, although he was respected as a gentleman and leader.

....................

For the ceremony, many keema were constructed in Male' for women to sit in seclusion and watch the ceremonies. A curtained gap at the top provided access for women to watch or catch brief glimpses of the ceremony.

Faiza (then 8 years old) went with Mohamed Fareed's wife to the ceremony at a temporary conference hall. Aminath Hussein (Ameen's future mistress) was there. The hall was a high pole structure without walls, three roofs wide. Women sat in a separate hall in front of the three long joined halls. There were hessian bags on floor, covered in white cotton material. The king's voice was soft and difficult to hear, and the hall was full of the sound of coughing because of a flu epidemic.

The ceremony went very well, but after that day the whole atmosphere changed, and the previous peace and quiet ended.

Policemen with batons began to patrol the island. We felt afraid. 'Juries', courts of inquiry, were established, and a gazette was published with new laws, and a new way of running things. Suddenly people are having to live according to new laws. This made it difficult for some people to keep their mouths shut. Faiza understood this from the private discussions of her mother and father.

....................

According to Ameen, the government was in a state of confusion as the new administration learnt the job. What the new administration was trying to do was modernise Male' as quickly as possible. Due to lack of experience, Maldivians couldn't control their emotions and life became very difficult for everybody.

The constitution committee started writing new laws without thinking of the consequences. The new government didn't understand how difficult it was for the civilians. Instead of thinking about people's rights they were thinking of themselves.

....................

List of laws written by constitutional writing committee in order of preparation:

Law of the committee.
Garlic and Firecrackers law.
Rules for the royal full moon tours.
Law of the sama.
Pushbike riding law.
Crimes on pushbikes.
Importing things to Maldives.
Dhiddhoo island in Thiladumathi made a government island.
Law for black cotton material.
Laws of weights and measures for traders tightened.
Customs duties raised.
Law of prohibited items in the Maldives.
Law for customs inspections.
Law for stamps.
Salted fish law.
Law for linear measurement based on 12.
Law for policemen.
Law for punishment of adultery.
Law for learning Arabic, Koran and Tana script.
Law for timber from islands.
Health Law.
Law for punishment of stealing and people practising istiri varitoli, fanditha used to harm personal relationships and physical well-being.
Foreign traders law.
Putting stamps on educational certificates.
Distribution of Havaru (militia).
Constructing ships for the government.
Law for lepers.


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