Introducing fb community page Maldivessc

Recently a fellow resort worker applied to a job in a big brand resort and was well into the process of the interviews untill he asked an innocuous question. He asked how much can he expect as monthly service charge. His interviewer was not impressed. The interviewer refused to disclose any amount be it maximum, minimum or even average. The interview faltered from this point onwards and our friend resort worker didnt win the job.

This is clearly an extremely stupid position held by the resort unaware of how much information about resorts is already out there by excellent collaboration of resort workers.

Inttoducing facebook community page

https://www.facebook.com/MaldivesSC/

and accompanying site

http://www.maldivessc.wordpress.com

is a must visit resource for resort workers looking to understand the kind of service charge the resort pays.

Different resorts charge different rates from guests per room night as well as other sales items and services, so there is legit reason for big variation in service charge. However if the variation is big between almost similar sized resorts, there is benefit in being in the know.

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What is the best PMS to use in resort?

PMS or property management software goes by many names. There are many types of PMS related software often packaged as modules and sold with other bigger software packages such as inventory trackers & booking systems. A typical PMS setup would be to have a database of all assets, PMP (preventive maintenance program) routines, reporting levels, workorder processes which all tries to update key people on breakdowns, routine maintenance checks or guest complaints.

PMS Pricing is usually subscription based and can cost around the salary of 1 to 3 regular staff per month. Most high end resorts use some sort of PMS to manage the works. Smaller low budget resorts mostly do not use PMS and manages their work just fine, so what gives?

Why is PSM a neccesity and why does it cost arms & legs? Are there ways to achieve the benefit of using PMS without buying in to the bogus sales pitch thats also usually packaged with PSM package? The answer is yes PMS is an important part of any maintenance or engineering setup and its entirely possible to build a free PMS suited to any particular business. A powerful PMS can be stiched together using a combination of free online services to achieve the same result with zero budget.

A typical such system would include an online calendar such as google calendar (for scheduling tasks), Trello (good mobile support & kanban style cards), google sheets (for data analysis & collection), IFTT (for connecting the other services and google forms (for data collection and db). These are all free but extremely powerful and customizable tools ideally suitable for managing small to mid size businesses for use as PMS proper.

Innovation is not always investing in the next bloatware in the market but to make use of low cost, high tech services to advantage and improve on existing setup.

Service charge rankings by resort

Chavel Blanc Randheli leads all resorts in Maldives in service charge payments. This trend has been ongoing for quite sometime and it looks like bigger brands with new hotels will dominate this in the future. However with many new big brand resorts scheduled to open in near future, some quite close to Male, change is expected. Service charge is a legal right of employees in Maldives under local labour laws and yet majority of resorts are said to distribute only a fraction of SC to staff. While some resorts do display service charge revenue to staff on regular basis on public noticeboards, most keep this information a tightly guarded secret. With little accountability in tourism sector towards employees rights, it is hoped that various awards and recognition bodies will prod the employers on issues like this to bring conpliance and integrity to tourism sector.

Is King Salman really buying an atoll in Maldives?

The short answer is sort of yes. The atoll in question is Faafu which is a sparsely populated atoll with lots of beautiful islands.  Total population of Faafu atoll is around 5000 will in all likelihood will be resettled in  Hulhumale under the proposed deal. The deal is rumored to be worth 10 billion and the atoll will be reclaimed and enlarged to build a mega tourist city. The rationale for the business idea around the project involves Saudi’s desire to diversify economic interests to counter whatever may appear after demand for  fossil fuel becomes low. 

In all likelihood the deal is likely to proceed with current government having super majority in parliament, significant control in judiciary, curbs on media and doing their 100% to stay credible after huge corruption scandal which landed the vice president Adheeb in jail.In president Yameen’s estimate this deal if sealed will produce same amount of revenue for the country as that of the whole tourism sector.

And then there is also significant opposition to the deal from opposition political parties who are also suffering the blame for voting for a bill in parliament which paved the way for private ownership of land in Maldives. 

For the average citizens this just political posturing as there is little difference between 99 year long term lease of islands and outright buying of the islands. Given the average life span of a Maldivian being 77 years, its very unlikely a Maldivian who lives today will see the day when existing long term leased islands lease expires. 

The only real danger Maldivians will face with selling islands may not be that one day all the islands will be bought by billionaires but that these deals will be tainted with corruption and invaluable pieces of beauty will be sold for knockdown prices. Maldives is already reeling from the biggest corruption scandal in history with the same administration in power. Several islands,  lagoons and sandbanks were traded unashamedly by corrupt politicians and things got so bad that tourism ministry even announced any party who have purchased any island or lagoon to get in contact with the ministry with proof of purchase to register the transaction! The corruption saga was never fully inspected and case looks all but closed after jailing 4 individuals including former vice president.

The business case for developing a huge resort island might be sound but the Saudi’s will be well advised not to alienate the opposition who might be not very cooperative if the current regime fails to win the election in 2018. The opposition lacks funding, clear sense of direction and leadership. The current regime almost lacks legitimacy and trust. Trust will never be won with money or power.

Why not give discounted room rates to individual customers rather than to Tour Operators? To make them fat?

moneybundle

 

Guests want to book their holidays with the resort; resort wants guests to book directly with them.

But resorts give discounted wholesale rate to tour operators but not to individual guests despite wanting them as direct booked guests. What cooks?

anantara-dhigu-sunrise-beach

Here is the everyday situation in resorts that shouldn’t have been in the first place. After seeing a gorgeous picture (something like the picture below) of the perfect blue sky and an even perfect white beach, the would be guest hurriedly tries to book a romantic getaway to Maldives with a life partner. Searching through google brings the guest tons of ads almost all leading them to a booking site. The booking site happily lets the would be guest click through a few times on the webpage and sends confirmation email with travel itinerary and a welcome email for holiday package worth sometimes a little over 5k$ for a week’s stay in one of the most beautiful islands in the world. The customer is indeed set back that many dollars from his net worth for this effortless business created by a third-party booking site. The hotel gets a slice of the pie as well as the booking site and sometimes a few other partners all enjoy a slice of the pie. This is standard proven business model right?

Actually this maybe the wrong model but the one working model customer has no option but to comply with.  Tour operation is effortless big business which should belong to history. At least that’s what it should be considering Maldives is one of the safest destinations in the world, together with good internet coverage and this being 2017; in theory a customer shall be able to deal directly with hotel to book his stay without intermediaries. But why are guests still paying the (evil) middle man? The answer is actually funny and kind of depressing.  Resorts give discounted wholesale rates to tour operators with the assurance that tour operators will do the marketing work and send guests to the resort in off-season. Its outsourcing their most important department (marketing) and doing business the effortless way.

Marketing in most resorts in Maldives is less about marketing than dealing with outsourced marketing firms and tour operators. Tour operation is so widespread that there are tour agencies who do not market at all, but sell packages to other tour operators from discounted packages they get from resorts. What all this does is add bloat to the customer’s holiday package from which only a small portion is received at the resort. This is one reason vacation packages in Maldives are pricy compared to some similar destinations. On the other side it’s also important to keep prices artificially high to appeal to the wealthy customers for “exclusivity effect”.  This is also mostly true of big brand resorts while average resorts are happy with their island being self- marketed by natural beauty and word of mouth type marketing.

Strike action in Hulhule Island Hotel over discrimination

hih_strike

Vaguthu reports about the ongoing strike action in Hulhule Island hotel.

The local staff of the hotel are on strike about dissatisfaction with management for not being paid the salary in US dollars and asking for a raise.

HIH is operated by a joint venture company with 35% share of sats (Singapore) and 65% share of MACL (Maldives).

According to Vaguthu report, 80 of the 90 local staff are on strike. The local workers demands are actually very simple considering the fact the hotel gets all its revenue in US dollars. The local staff are actually asking for a portion of their salary to be paid in dollars; not even the whole amount. The expat staff are being paid in dollars by HIH and the resort recently increased the pay of expat staff following the recently implemented law on remittance fee for foreign workers in the country. The local workers are citing this as discriminatory as many new taxes were implemented for the local population and they did not get a raise to cover these by the hotel.

Another concern raised by the workers is that almost all the position of management of HIH are filled by expat workers and the hotel offers very little opportunities for local talent.

Can I fly my latest DJI drone in resort?

This is a frequent question guests ask while in resort. Most guests buy their drones before coming holiday and have the idea to use the holiday time to practice drone skills. Some even bring high end photography drones to capture their happy moments. The answer depends on the resort they are staying. Some high end resorts which often hosts celebrities limit drone use for guests citing privacy issues of other guests. In such a situation its likely guests will be directed to a nearby uninhibited island or to supervised sessions with resort’s security personnel. Drone use can also be a problem if resort hosts a sea plane platform and frequent sea plane transfers happen on the island. It just takes a few distracted seconds before a sea plane appears in the resort’s lagoon out of nowhere.

On the other side, aerial videos and shots by guests is free marketing by guests which has tremendous value. 

Also with a recent update to small businesses rules, the authorities forbid proffessional photography equipments to be imported, with the exception of registered media outlets or locals for personal use. So its always better to check with resort before bringing expensive photography drones to resort. 

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/

Former president Anni sentenced for 13 years behind bars

In a deeply flawed trial, the former president Anni was found of guilty of terrorism and sentenced 13 years behind bars. This is a deeply shocking news to many as the twists and turns of this saga were closely followed by friends and foes alike, although nobody believed he would anyhow get a free or fair trial. President Nasheed (popularly known as Anni) had many friends and foes, but even most of his foes agree that this time he has received more than he deserves.

Some facts about the trial:

  • Anni’s defense witnesses were prevented from giving witness; the court essentially said the prosecution witnesses were too strong to be negated by defense witness.
  • One of the three sitting judges was a prosecution witness in the first lesser charge. The state prosecutor was also a witness to the case.
  • The prosecution changed the charge sheet almost overnight without giving Anni’s lawyers time to make defense. The original charge was a lesser charge of wrongfully imprisoning a person, the later was terrorism.
  • Anni’s lawyers had to quit because the court essentially made it impossible for them to work by giving them strange and unworkable deadlines to defend the former president.

Despite these setbacks this will be a blow to the sitting government for allowing this farce of a court case to have gone to completion. In the middle of the court case there were frequent allegations and sightings of govt. officials such as the all powerful tourism minister meeting with sitting Judges and even supreme court judges. The allegations were that current government wanted the courts to windup the case as quickly as possible so as not to allow more media scrutiny into the case. It is also interesting to note that this court case was quickly revived up after being left gathering dust for 3 years just a few weeks after government owned apartments were given to court judges.

Politically this is a big mistake by PPM who have majority of parliament, government and judiciary all in their hands to be seen as crushing any form of dissent. The government cannot hide under the slogan that they are unable to interfere with judicial proceedings. This is a well-known tactic everywhere used by all sorts of dictators to crush dissent. They used just one mantra and it won’t buy them any legitimacy. It is unlikely that the govt. can stand the negative pressure from media and global community.

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/dhivehi/news/167021

Biggest stories of 2014

2014 ended with two important stories for Maldives tourism.

One is the opening of Amillafushi in Baa atoll which has been a long time in the works and looks a little bit different compared to most other resorts. Amilla Fushi has 71 rooms and is the newest addition to the tourism industry.

There was also the all important story of Gasfinolhu resort going fully solar powered which is a first for any resort in Maldives. According to the resort they have installed 6000 sq meters of solar panels which is enough to power 1.6mw of electricity per day. Gasfinolhu has been renovated from a 30 room resort to 52 rooms which includes 30 water bungalows and is fully solar powered. The owner estimates he will be able to recover the cost of investment in 6 to 7 years.

It’s a good start which will get other tourism big shots to think about what to do next to reduce the energy bill for their resorts. Since the story and in very unrelated news the oil producer club of nations has started cutting down on fuel prices which is currently just the double of price level before the first Iraq war. Nobody seems to know the reason for the sharp decline in fuel price; some citing this as a price war initiated by oil producing nations to kill off fracking industry in US to make the practice and other alternative fuel sources unviable (including solar). Whatever the politics of oil there is no reason not to tap off to the energy of sun especially when we have it all year round and in abundance.

Male’ out of water

image

Following a massive  fire in the MWSC, water supply in Male has been cut off. According to sources in Male’, the control panel boards of the water production facility caught fire and serious damages was caused which resulted in the water outage. The facility produces 17000 cubic meters of water per day and serves a population of 150000. In comparison a typical resort of 200 rooms will have ro plants capable of producing 500 cubic meters of water per day. A typical swimming pool might have anything from 20 cubic meters to 60 cubic meters of water. As the water situation in Male’ is being worked on it reminds us all of the preciousness of water, something we all take for granted. There are tremendous scope for growth and improvement in the area of water production both in resorts and in islands such as newer and better pump designs, pressure exchangers, membranes and controls to manage flow etc. In the case of congested cities such as Male’ there is the additional need to have redundancies in the system as well decentralize production to minimize risk of total outage.

Why do we still use brass locks in resorts?

image

Beats us all, doesn’t it? This is 2014 and this is about using technology of the era of pyramid’s in most expensive resorts in Maldives. Even locals have started using electronic locks in homes especially in Male’ and yet most resorts are still using these heavy brass monstrosities (keys) maybe with the thinking that guests are stupid and can’t handle something as advanced as an RFID embedded plastic card. Apart from the clumsiness of having to carry them around often with heavy wooden tags there is the little worry of cutting lost keys, keeping of records, originals of all keys and occasional changing of key barrels and so much more that goes with it. In comparison the electronic locks are simple, easy to replace, light weight, much more secure and cheaper and environmentally friendly. So basically there shall be no excuse to use brass locks and keys in resorts at this age and time other than callousness which by the way is all too common.

Good things just happen… sometimes

In a heartwarming announcement, the gender ministry is at last trying to do a long overdue good thing for the country. This is about providing employment for the disabled. The stated goal is to provide 30 jobs for thirty individuals by this year from participating public companies and government affiliated institutions.

Providing jobs to people able or disabled has never been a priority of any government past or present although politicians will vehemently disagree. Although much noise was made about just doing that, actions spoke louder and the results are there to show. We have a huge unemployment problem the size of which will be known once the census data comes out by then end of this month. In developed countries like USA they do actually estimate how much jobs was shed or created during a particular month. We are far from that level and the ‘authorities’ are really trying to grapple the unemployment monster by doing their typical baby steps. But estimation of our unemployment problem shall not be a very big problem at all. This is a tiny country where we don’t have lots of legacy systems and compatibility of datasets and lots of red tape to hinder such work. All we have is lots of inefficiency and unproductively, lack of imagination to solve problems and passionate political thinking everywhere.

All hope is not lost yet, good things are happening albeit slowly and with every improvement there is reason for optimism.

Where is the Mad one?

This is probably the hottest question in Maldives right now. This is about a prolific blogger who used the alias “moyameeha” meaning mad person who mysteriously went missing one evening 46 days ago. Since then many things happened and this case has been on everyone’s conscience and yet after a lot of work trying to find him, his whereabouts is unknown. From what is already known, he lives alone in Hulhumale and has received online threats for his controversial views like politicians prior to the disappearance. Police have launched a massive campaign to find him and yet they don’t seem to have come up with much. Maybe they have but they aren’t revealing much of what they have found. Notable news stories that has since come up with which may or may not be connected with this story include a report of a forcible abduction of a person in Hulhumale and a storage facility that was destroyed by fire. The abduction according to police was a woman who was drunk and they refused to divulge any other information about this case as they believe the two cases are not related. The storage facility that was destroyed by a huge fire some allege might have something to do with disposing of evidence to something more sinister. However nobody is sure of anything as of yet, and the authorities are not yet in singing mood.

And then there is the politics.

MDP the opposition party is trying to get as much currency out of this issue since their electoral defeat, in both presidential and parliamentary elections and accusations are flying energetically everywhere. Proxy NGO’s run by MDP members are making reports accusing everybody from the president to the scholar to the laymen and everyone in between. Astounding as it may seen, they are even energetically promoting the theory that this is about a forced disappearance orchestrated by religious scholars and irreligious street thugs however difficult maybe to promote the theory. One peculiar thing that is unique to MDP is always to appealing to their international partners rather than trying to convince the electorate that their position is better than their enemies. In this regard they have made quite damaging allegations against the country such that investors and tourists arrivals will be affected by alleging the country is gripped by extremism etc. This is not a new thing to MDP and this maybe the reason why they lost lot of support from patriotic mainstream when they are seen to be too out of touch with the common people and too eager to impress their international partners elsewhere.

Whatever the political leanings maybe, this is a worrying case and there appears to be an honest desire to arrive at the truth with the resources we have. Even if a crime is established and a culprit brought before the law, it’s highly improbable that justice will be served because of the giant sized holes in our constitution.