Juha and Anni


Once upon a time Juha(a comical mythical character in dhivehi folk tales..) was asked by Fageerkoi how to become rich easily. Juha with his proverbial wit was said to have, robbing would be the easiest way! Juha was not wrong in this. He was asked how to become rich the easy way and his reply was pragmatic and to the point.

The case of our president Anni formalizing relations with Israel without public appetite for such a move is just like as if the president had asked from and received a Juha’s advice. Upon arrival of his historic visit to the UN our media people posed some questions about these decision and to all extents Anni seems to have charmed out of the questions. Some of the points raised in the news conference were:

That our country shall not have a list of countries we shall not speak with..

  • This is of course true and negotiations and friendly relations with all nations is good for all purposes and is compliant with our religion. Anni seems to be in the right in this issue. The world’s issue with Israel is not a consuming hatred of that state but of a principled stand against the injustices they are imposing on the Palestinians. South Africa was wrestled out of apartheid when many countries of the world  adopted such a principled stand.

That Israel and Maldives share similar democratic platforms.

  • The idea that Israel is the only democracy in Middle east and Maldives with the regime change is the newest and tiniest democracy in Indian ocean hence that we share common thinkings is all but deceptive thinking. If Israel is a democracy than its the only democracy left in the world. All such democracies died and became extinct long time ago.  Many has been said to and against Israel on the issue of democracy. But one poignant example of Israeli democracy is their systematic demolition of people’s homes just because one inhabitants of that house might have been a stone thrower etc. Now this was not one isolated miscarriage of justice but official policy for years starting from 1967. An interesting link to follow in these lines is: http://www.icahd.org/eng/

That some MOUs were signed with the Israeli government soliciting assistance in areas of agriculture, construction and tourism…

  • Again if its assistance that we seek in the fields of agriculture and construction what’s wrong with seeking such assistance from existing friendly countries in Europe, Asia and elsewhere? Why Israel? Sure they have made tremendous advances in science and technology but so had Japan, Germany, USA etc. So basically Anni might have his hands twisted by World Bank and IMF to forge this friendly alliance with Israel or his spin doctors out of greed made his mind of him.

That most big Arab countries have established relations with Israel..

  • This is not entirely true. Egypt and Jordan are the only countries to have full diplomatic relations with Israel and they have compelling reasons to do so. By signing up Egypt got back Sinai and Jordan got among other things arrangement for allocation of water resources, and quota free export concessions with USA as well as help in alleviating refugee problem which Israel created in the first place. As for the Palestinian Authority they have nowhere to go and is besieged by Israeli Occupation from land air and sea so they have no option but to accept the occupation.

That big countries just might listen to small voices like that of our country on important issues

  • This is wishful thinking.

That the issue of Israel and Palestine is political in nature rather than religious

  • This seems to be the version the Muslim states have to believe but for the Christians they prove their(Israelis) right to the land of Palestinians from Old and New Testament. So its a political issue for Muslims and a theological issue for Christians. Double standards  right?

child snatching... Israli democracy in action

Service charge please!

Service Charge distribution is always a tricky business in most resorts. While none of the resorts seems to be able to give away whatever is received as service charge to staff on an equitable basis, most of the new hotels and new managements seems to have overcome this problem and are giving significant amounts of money with the salaries each month.
Traditionally resorts treat service charge as a part of their revenue but with new labor laws makes it quite clear that its money which shall be distributed equally among staff. Some resorts such as Hulhule Island Hotel employs elaborate schemes to grade staff according to the years of service and performance and weigh service charge distribution according to that grading which is all but illegal now.

Here is some info we came across and would like to share with all our friends in resort life. The list is service charge amounts given to the staff in various resorts in dollars and is sorted with the resorts which gives most service charge at the top. If the resort you are working is not listed and you would like to share the figures with us please drop us comment.

January February March April May June July August avg
W Maldives 1280 971 1071 763 536 477 540 662 788
Huvafenfushi 1059 680 622 780 409 357 468 497 609
4 Seasons Resort 1094 635 467 617 381 191 267 378 504
Reethi Rah 811 655 533 554 360 360 270 473 502
Banyan Tree 746 580 680 612 370 204 247 470 489
Anantara 869 641 501 472 390 262 352 410 487
Sunland Hotel 550 460 651 556 448 420 325 310 465
Cocoa Island 710 613 625 502 295 234 350 324 457
Soneva Gili 615 625 605 623 330 193 200 375 446
Rangali 705 620 570 533 334 190 269 265 436
Soneva Fushi 719 673 475 643 269 95 144 358 422
Taj Exotica 769 493 416 434 375 350 299 238 422
Kanuhuraa 561 491 380 341 391 190 117 238 339
HIH 318 295 300 305 181 130 135 186 231
Kandooma 405 296 205 267 156 163 121 221 229
Diva Maldives 150 150 150 150 214 205 208 225 182
Shangrilla 150 150 150 150 150 150 150 320 171
Velassaru 100 130 132 213 214 167 200 162 165
Halaveli 150 150 150 150 150 150 150 150 150
Alila Villas Hadaha 150 150 150 150

Outlook for workers in Tourism

Tourism was like a new born baby in our country and was let grown with love and care. Much too love and care, cos tourism was like an only child so over time the baby grew up a little bit and is rightly a little spoiled…

At the early days neither the government, nor those who were involved in tourism knew what will come about of this new found use of otherwise useless islands. The government gave every leeway asked for by the industry bosses who at the time happened to be a few brand names like, The Koli, The Champas, The Orchids to do with the islands as they wished. The islands were developed in time and good money were made and overnight the early enterprenuers became millionaires. The government looked upon the resorts to provide the population with jobs and was quite content with what is earned through bed tax, airport tax and a few thousands of dollars as island rent. Next and subsequent waves of uninhabited islands were quickly written off as favors and gifts to the then government’s ministers and favorites. Still further waves of islands (the last batch) were dispersed in trickier circumstances to another lucky batch of jackpot winners and the then President Maumoon’s immediate family were also said to be benefit from this latest giveaways.

A few years later…
The situation in the country is not like what it was ever in the near past, with conditions rife for strife, with a high percentage of people out of work, a labor market totally distorted and out of shape thanks to things like employment agencies operating right inside the then Labor Ministry, political polarization which has created ways of earning income for gangsters etc. Gang warfare has claimed many young lives and the judiciary seems a little bit unsure about what constitutes a crime or how to define a gang. The government’s long dependence on tourism industry to provide jobs for the people effectively came to a still with labor and skills market flooded with expatriate labor brought in by greedy employment agents who got away basically with human trafficking and extortion in total immunity in broad day light.

Most resort owners or operators profess a desire to employ as many locals as possible with some owners explicitly dictating a percentage of which shall be employed from the country to the Human Resources Departments which rarely comes to anything. To curb the resorts from becoming fully expatriate operated and employed, the government set a 50/50 ratio which was wrongly understood by most employers as the ideal ratio to hire labor from abroad. Jobs are scarce everywhere and everybody knew somebody who needs a job back home, hence came a veritable flood of solicitations for jobs from overseas to all resorts with a sizable proportion of which being qualified simply because of internal connections. This in effect left the resort industry running but the country halting with a big unemployment percentage.

The popular and much overused assertion that local skills are unavailable for this or that job in a resort is anything but true now. This is very much a fact as soon as a job is advertised a veritable queue of applications start pouring in sometimes reaching 1000s for a simple low skilled job in a resort. Also there are excellent Brands in resort industry who employ 100% locals and has no reason to complain because of the staff all being locals.

The new government has 5 short years to do a phenomenal job and it seems they are in a hurry and is looking at the situation from a fresh perspective which hopefully will remedy the many problems associated with tourism industry. For a start the HR Ministry is doing a count of the worker population and recently it was announced that the de facto illegal aliens will be deported once no employer came to claim them. Once all the workers are registered and seen to be doing work in recognizable fields of work, the ministry will apply a discriminatory fee from expatriate workers so that employing locals will be cheaper for the employer. The rates are said to vary between 2000rf to 6000rf per year and is said to come into effect in October this year. This is a necessary step now that the tourism industry seems to be unable to self regulate and resort owners being overly cautious are unwilling to move in line of government policy. The divisive politics of the parliament with resort owners mostly in the opposition camp and interest groups like MATI which has a bloated super power status in the industry seems to be little help the government would have to to forgo with, to kick start a stalled economy.