President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom of the Maldives “knows when to fold ’em,” said Jack Healy in The New York Times online. After 30 years ruling the island nation in the Indian Ocean, Asia’s longest-serving leader agreed to cede power to democracy activist Mohamed Nasheed, who beat him in the country’s first contested election. And for an autocrat who’s repressed dissent with jail and torture, Gayoom’s “exit is a surprisingly graceful one.”
Yes, there’s a “darker side to this paradise,” said Ishaan Tharoor in Time, but while Gayoom treated the Maldives as his “personal sultanate,” he’s also “chiefly responsible” for creating its “lucrative tourism sector.” Asians, Europeans, and “waves of Hollywood celebrities” have turned this “jumble of 20,000 idyllic islands” into one of the wealthiest nations, per capita, in South Asia.
Let’s hope the nation survives long enough to enjoy its wealth, said India’s Livemint in an editorial. None of the Maldives’ islands are more than six feet above sea level, and with global warming, “the possibility that it will disappear in the next 50 years or so is very real.” Let’s hope Nasheed is up to “this existential challenge.”