Tourist arrivals increasing

deepika-katrina-vacation759

Its good news for all the resort owners and workers alike. Tourists are again finding Maldives attractive and are filling the resorts in good numbers. According to stats from Tourism Ministry, average occupancy in resorts now is above 70% with 3.6% increase over same period from last year. The increase from last month was 11.4% compared to last year same period.

Most Visitors by nationality:

  1. England +11.7
  2. Italy +10.2
  3. Germany +2.2
  4. France -3.2
  5. China -10.6
  6. Russia +4.4
  7. India +45

From the stats its apparent that the Chinese market is dwindling because of the higher rates at this time of the year. A surprising increase is from India, which may well be caused by popularity among wealthy Bollywood celebrities visiting Maldives.

According to tourism ministry stats, there are 110 resorts operating in Maldives with occupancy average of 74%. Average stay duration for tourist is 5.6 nights.

 

Dusit Thani Maldives

Chinese couple rescued after 16 hours at sea.

 

chinese-guests-vaadhoo

Two Chinese tourists were rescued by Coast Guard after their transparent seabed drifted out in the lagoon, and out into the sea. The tourists were found by cost guard air craft and rescued shortly after they were spotted. After being taken from the sea they were transported to ADK hospital for checkup. After checkup, they were released as their condition was good.

Image result for vaadhoo adaaran prestige

Adhaaran Prestige Vaadhoo Island Resort is just south of capital Male’ with a big lagoon and beautiful reefs much popular with Chinese guests. The approximate location of the guests when they were rescued would be 12 miles west north west of Vaadhoo.

vaadhoo-guests-rescued

Image source :https://mihaaru.com/news/9472

It’s a political State of emergency… Not a real one!

Today is just another day Maldives is making headlines again for all the wrong reasons. The timing couldn’t be more perfect as tourist high season is just beginning and the country depends heavily on tourism revenues.

bomb disposal unit  checking on a reported IED

bomb disposal unit checking on a reported IED

The government all of a sudden declared state of emergency across the whole country citing security concerns. Specifically the authorities believe a container of explosives and fire arms has been imported to the country from China (by VP and his partners) and some elements are planning to use them against the president. The president already survived an IED attach on his boat after he returned from Hajj and the VP has since been arrested and kept in detention pending charges of “high treason” according to the home minister. The VP is accused of all sorts of crimes including running gangs, influencing police and military, bribing institutions etc. and its very likely that there are some elements of truth in these charges and that he will be given long prison sentences. The parliament is already trying to impeach him without the support of the biggest opposition party MDP, which means a crucial 5 votes needed to pass the impeachment motion will have to be either bought or ransomed for the release of former president Nasheed (who is also in jail) or whichever is less costlier for the current government.

mdp demo

Opposition MDP rally against the governement

However the view from across the public is of deep mistrust as this state of emergency looks very much an effort to stop huge demonstrations against the government for detention of several politicians including the former president Nasheed and Sheikh Imran the leader of Adhaalath party. What is most apparent in these unfortunate events is that the decree to impose state of emergency also includes clause halving the number of days the VP can prepare to answer to the parliament in the no confidence motion. The stated reason for the state of emergency namely about loose weapons posing danger to the public shall have nothing to do with the number of days VP can get to prepare for his defense. It’s also true that the current government has very little public support and is in deep trouble with public opinion locally and globally. Imprisoning politicians, stifling dissent and ruling under state of emergency should not be the way forward for Maldives. Maldives is such a sunny country we can do better than this.

For the record we can say that Maldives is as sunny as always and there are no threats to life or property and guests are unlikely to be ever harmed in their holidays. What is happening inside is crude political drama and is more hype than substance.

In current resort news…

Holiday island workers abstaining from work because the employer has not paid the Ramadan bonus and service charge for the last 6 months. The workers are demanding the employer provide a date whereby the employer can pay what is owed to the workers. All workers except two are abstaining from work. The Villa group of resorts have been struggling for sometime due to the political pressure by being against the current regime which at one time had actually cancelled some trading licenses for the groups businesses. The Villa group is just barely surviving after having to give in to lots of demands by the government which included the chairman Gasim of promising not to contest the presidential election come 2018.

Source: http://www.vaguthu.mv/news/317455/

https://maldivesresortworkers.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/alidhoo.jpg?w=306

Alidhoo is a four star resort owned and managed by yacht tours. The resort employs only 15 local staff and the rest are expatriates. Some of the staff have not been paid for 8 months. Some have been working without pay for 11 months. Alidhoo has been in the news for all the bad reasons for some time as a notorious employer and the chairman of the group that controls the resort is a politician who is allied with the current ruling party.

Source: http://www.vaguthu.mv/news/317460/

Tourists stopped en route to Diego Garcia!

An ambitious project by German and Italian tourists possibly to demonstrate against the Diego Garcia was prematurely stopped by the Maldives forces after it has emerged that a group of tourists had rented a fishing boat and were heading to that direction with 5k litres of diesel, a dingy and other items. According to local media, the dhoni was hired by a group of 7 tourists and was hired for 2 days. It’s not uncommon for tourists to arrange big game fishing trips on big dhonis. Hiring dhonis by tourists has never been an issue before. However this time the authorities suspect the tourists were actually planning to do a surprise visit Diego Garcia or demonstrate the forcible removal of its inhabitants in 1973.

Male’ braced for big Mayday rally.

Mayday rally used to be a simple affair in Male’ mostly organized by TEAM. Often times the rally is attended by less than 100 and looks more like a cause for resort workers as others don’t seem interested.  But this time it’s looking like it’s going to be different. Mayday for once is going to be attended in good numbers and for a good reason.  Apart from the ruling party PPM, every other party has joined the effort to free former president Nasheed and some other high ranking officials of the previous administration who have recently been jailed on trumped up charges. Amnesty international and EU has backed the calls for releasing the former president and former defense minister Nazim as the legal proceedings that landed them in jail were neither free from political interference nor just. It remains to be seen how the popular anger against the political trials and injustices are going to be heard by the ruling minority led government which has shown amazing naivety in thinking they can mask the discontent by threats and intimidation and remain non committal to popular sentiments.

Politics being politics every party will take as much advantage as they can out of situations and frequently lie their way through situations making small things appear big, tiny problems appear as huge but there are very good reasons for voicing discontent against the government this time.

Adheeb

image012

image012

The current controversial tourism minister is by all accounts very much involved with the gangs in Male and he has made no effort to distance himself from them. It is also said that when he was made tourism minister his net worth was around minus 5000 dollars and in just 3 years he was able to present brand new car to first lady on her birthday. Former auditor general Niyaz was removed from his job for trying to probe allegation of corruption against Mr. Adheeb.

car donated by Adheeb to firstlady

car donated by Adheeb to firstlady

The courts:

Maldives maybe the only country where a sitting judge in court may have less qualification than the lawyers. It’s sad but true that some sitting judges in our judicial system have not even completed their primary education and preside over cases argued for and against by lawyers who are much learned them. Positions in courts were historically all favors by government to their loyal supporters and they basically just used technicalities in the new constitution to cement their questionably gotten positions. They have also made their positions permanent for life and wrote their own pay scale and benefits.  Against this backdrop its easy to see how any political position the government wants is easily implemented by the courts and this is exactly how the hastily conjured up sham trials of former president and defense minister were concluded.

The police

The opportunity to shine and rise to the occasion for police came when they mysteriously found an elaborate scheme collectively by all opposition politicians to murder president Yameen and tourism minister Adheeb. According to this theory, Villa group chairman (presidential contender) financed the scheme. Former defense minister Nazim wrote the sequence of events. He also kept a pistol with exactly 3 bullets (allegedly: 1 for president Yameen, 1 for Minister Adheeb, 1 for police commissioner). A trained soldier Mr. Nazim also kept an ied, the thumb drive with the murderous plans and the pistol and bullets under his pillow and he and his wife slept blissfully aware of the monstrous things under their pillow while they slept. AND WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE THIS OF COURSE…

One maybe forgiven for believing that politics is for grown up people but when situations like these are actual news from Maldives, it’s hard to believe that sane people can go through this much longer. So in effect this mayday rally is warranted and for the right reasons.  The drama has to stop and sun has to shine. Maldives deserves better than this.

Worrying political developments in Male’

Maldives is going through a phase of undemocratic gangsta-rule just when we need more democracy and more and fair treatment for the people. It seems we are taking huge leaps backward and the process is too strong to halt.

It came slowly but things are getting speedy now. First it was websites having to register with home ministry so that nothing untoward can be said against the authorities. At the same time former president’s (now a convicted terrorist!) case against detaining a judge was getting dust in the court because the govt. was not decided what to do with him. The decision to make him a terrorist only happened after Rehendhi flats in Hulhumale were awarded to state prosecutor and supreme court judges. Perhaps re-activating president Nasheed’s case and make a terrorist out him was their way of thanking the regime for the generosity.

Former president was a colorful character both loved and hated almost by equal measure by the population. He was loved for his amicable character honest talk and innovative style of leadership. He was hated for some of his liberal views which are too liberal at times (such as trying to cozy up to Israel when they were bombing Gaza..) and exclusives, sometimes autocratic style of governance most probably pushed to by party activists. Whatever he may have been, he was definitely not a terrorist and the political case against him was dispensed with in a very questionable judicial process which was just a political sham as declared by world bodies such as the ICJ and Amnesty International. What the government fails to acknowledge now is their stand that they are following the law doesn’t hold much water, since every dictatorship used the same language when repressing the people. Things like apartheid, colonialism and slavery were all legal at the time it was practiced and by those who practiced it. But that doesn’t mean it was right.

Just as everything is connected to everything else, the current political intrigues all connect with president Yameen and tourism minister Adeeb. There will be lots of questions they will have to answer to come clean through things that are going very wrong, such as the wrongful conviction and framing of a once political ally, the former defense minister Nazim. In a plot straight out from comics, the former defense minister was sentenced for 11 years for allegedly plotting to kill 3 people including Adeeb, the president Yameen, and police commissioner Hussein Waheed.

The ‘plan’ is a sad but elaborate hoax which is better suited for movies than real life. In the plan the subjects all have nice pictures and proper names and even describes their ends in plain words suitable for laymen to understand the implications. The plan also connects all current government foes such as Villa group of hotels as accessory to terror and doesn’t even leave anyone out, even the religious extremists. The saddest part is that the ‘court’ accepted this hoax and sentenced a potential political rival to Yameen to kill his career.

And then there are the gangs… Even before Yameen became president there were allegations he was controlling some gangs in Male’. Notably Masodi gang was always mentioned by the opposition. Politicians are always labeled with this and that but there are worrying indications that these allegations have some weight in cases such as the notorious drug dealer Safa who was flown to Sri Lanka from jail and later he won appeal against his case being a fugitive in Sri lanka. We have something like 11 gangs operating in Male’ and its almost common knowledge that the authorities have failed to stop them. Gang wars happen daily in Male in full day light, despite Male’ being such a small place. Only last week we had 2 murders by gangs in Male’, one a Bangladeshi waiter was killed in his café’ and despite the gang being known, the police have not apprehended any gang member yet. Although they have searched a local parliament members residence for the murderer’s clues. The gang is known to associate with the said MP. The implication from the latest murder was that government decided to shorten business hours by one hour forcing the shops to close at 10 and cafes at 12. This hasty decision comes as opposition parties are holding nightly demonstrations against the government and will be seen as a punishment for the business community.

If all the above weren’t enough, worst is yet to come. The government has decided that they will use special powers to prevent demonstration starting from Saturday which means that all demos will be dispersed with no notification and as soon as it happens. This is a serious infringement on the right to protest and it appears that the government is seriously weak to handle any more pressure from the streets. They have failed to checkup on what was pointed out by the opposition as serious wrongs and seems to be on an unstoppable descent to electoral defeat in 2018 or some possible event even sooner.

Links:

http://minivannews.com/news-in-brief/home-ministry-opens-up-second-call-for-newspaper-magazine-re-registration-91854

https://raajje.mv/33750

http://www.vaguthu.mv/en/12853

http://www.icj.org/maldives-grossly-unfair-nasheed-conviction-highlights-judicial-politicization/

https://www.amnesty.org/en/articles/news/2015/03/maldives-mohamed-nasheed-convicted-terrorism/

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/news/58544

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/news/59861

http://www.dhivehisitee.com/judiciary/getting-away-with-murder/