Monday, January 9, 2012

That sinking feeling

An Australian surfing tourism hot spot, the Maldives battles to keep its head above water. Ben Doherty talks to the country's President, Mohamed Nasheed.

Mohamed Nasheed carries the air of a man without much time. ''How did it go? Did we win?'' he asks an aide as he sweeps, almost at a run, down the marbled corridors of the presidential office. 

Told yes, the vote on the reappointment of his Minister of Islamic Affairs had succeeded in his country's fractious parliament, he is pleased: ''That's good, our minister keeps his job. Now, what's next?'' The offhand manner is no affectation. Nasheed is a man running out of time.

As the President of the Maldives, the string of paradisiacal Indian Ocean islands that could become the first nation lost - entirely - to climate change, there are not many minutes to waste for Nasheed. ''We've already lost it in so many senses,'' he tells the Herald during a rare moment of peace in a meeting room. His country is losing three inhabited islands a year, swallowed by the ocean, he explains. More