the statues of birds and beasts which has been erected in Addu for the SAARC summit are a first for the country and are already causing much controversy. Prior to this, Maldives has been free of statues like this in accordance with the conservative religious norms of the country.
It maybe a creative idea gone wrong on the part of SAARC organizers to come up with the idea of statues which is scorned by everyone across the board. But like everything else it has a money trail in the millions which probably is the reason why they are hastily fixed there without any public consultation or regard to peoples sensibilities . Street news have it that the bird statue in Feydhoo alone cost more than a million ruffiyaas to create it although news sources set the figure at 600000 rufiyaas. Whatever the amount is, the cost of producing the scorned objects in the first place, maintaining 24 hour military security around the statues is clearly ludicrous as our country is still barely making ends meet and there are recommendations, advice and even threats by leading world bodies like IMF and worldbank to trim the already wasteful state expenditure or else!
The statues are even politically not tenable because it has infuriated a sizable percentage population which surely will cost the ruling MDP much votes and possibly the executive office if a strong contender emerges for the president.
Statues, fine arts, exotic drinks are fine for developed countries which has money to spare after doing everything they can think of doing but here in Maldives where we are on par with Ethiopia in corruption scale and where we fare even less than sub saharan african countries in terms of higher education enrollment, this is an unforgivable mistake.
Although we do not have tall sky scrappers like the US, today 9th September 2011 is one of the saddest days in our nations history. Just like as the USA lost 3000 souls in their 9/11 tragedy, today we lost 5 people which is exactly the same percentage when US and our country’s population are compared. However our tragedy is not related to any war or global conflicts.
On behalf of all fellow resort workers we send our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and we wish them courage in this hard time. May Allah bless them and their loved ones, and make them rest in peace.
It happened in a most happy carefree setting which is repeated numerous times throughout the year in various parts of the country. Two Classes of Hiriya School (2nd girl’s school in Male’) went on a Fisheries science project to the island of BoduHuraa (near Four Seasons Kuda Hura) with some of their teachers and their late principal Mr. Ali Nazim. He is a strong swimmer and a swimming instructor as well. Over the course of the project, a group of about 8 girls somehow went in to a deeper part of the lagoon (8 feet depth) and shouted seeking help. Nazim managed to free some of the drowning girls and it appears that the remaining panic stricken teens somehow overpowered him reflexively and that appears to have been how the tragedy happend. The total body count of the tragedy is five including Nazim.
The tragedy has taken the whole country by surprise and the whole country is in mourning. Three official days of national mourning has been announced by the president and Health and Education ministry are conducting reviews of the whole situation to prevent repeats in the future.
Apparently there is an issue about our parliament members requesting privacy of their phone numbers, which is despite the fact that most members pledged to be in contact and forever approachable by the people in their election campaigning. Most parliament members promptly went back on their pledge the moment their election victory was announced. However an effort led by a facebook group Majliswatch calling for reform of majlis member’s pay structure have put up a posters in Male’ with our majlis members photos and their contact details asking the people to send views direct to the members on this and other similar reform issues.
We believe this is a very good initiative and everyone shall engage in calling for reform of relevant issues through majlis. Majlis members as they are people’s representatives shall respect the peoples right to be heard and shall maintain open lines of communications with the people. As long as they are in the service of the people, the people will have every right to demand and to know how much their representatives are being paid, offered, by whom and what-for etc.. This is basically accountability to the people.
Listed below here are some details of our parliamentarians and their contact numbers. We urge all fellow resort workers to respect their position and address issues in respectable terms when texting your views.
Geographically Maldives consists only of atolls and islands. While the majority of the islands fit in the coral reef ring that makes the atoll, some islands stand by themselves in the Indian ocean. Foa Mulah, Kaashidhoo, Thoddoo, Alifushi are lone islands like this. On the other hand we have perfect geographical atolls like the normally acknowledged atolls and Rasdhoo, Makunudhoo, Gaafaru, Fulhadhoo and Goidhoo.
However for administrative reasons successive governments have named, renamed and titled islands and atolls at will for quite some time. These naming and renaming does not follow geography and only follows what is practicable and sometimes what is convenient in politics. For example the big atoll Huvadhoo was made two atolls for administrative purposes back in the 80s because the communication equipment at the time did not have full coverage of the atoll from end to end. Ari atoll was cut in half in the 90s for purely political reasons. Similarly absurd titles were given after 2000 to Male atoll Villingili and the newly developed island at Hulhule as wards of Male’ despite the islands being separated by sea from Male’. However these naming and renaming serve the political purpose as no strong objections has been raised against such measures.
The latest absurd naming of the island happened quite recently at FoaMulah which is now officially 3 islands two of which are supposed to be uninhibited although in reality the island is still one indivisible island which couldn’t even add more territory to it by dredging because the island lacks the protective lagoons and beaches most islands have. FoaMulah has been an island by itself for centuries despite being quite close to Addu atoll. Although there were attempts to associate FoaMulah as an island belonging to Addu, it does not appear to have found any wider acceptance. The recently found two islands (imaginary ones!) is an honest attempt by current government to host two city hotels which could do for a resort possibly to provide more jobs and income to economy. Whatever the reasons, its unlikely to go unchallenged by political rivals as the plan is an obvious half thought idea! With many resort islands opening in Huvahdoo atoll and two in Addu, any hotelier who would open camp in these two islands would find it a stretch to compete for customers to their city hotel (in an imaginary island!). The idea that FoaMulah could be helped to develop by two city hotels and a domestic airport does not seem viable as Addu has had facilities for years and yet is lacking in so many ways.
Giving titles to islands and atolls maybe a tame political pastime but the implications of such changes cost the economy as each titled island is in effect a small administration with its requirements such as offices and officers who will manage the newly created narrative. If however the prevailing idea is to help an island by raising its title, what could be feasible for that island needs to be introduced. Everything does not have to be of or related to tourism. Diversifying industries which can help the economy would be better in the long run than to keep all the eggs in the same basket.
Its weird but true. Some resorts juts really can’t afford to pay the staff at the end of the month! Recently a fellow resort worker informed us about his experience in such a resort where he applied for a job. The HR person was all truthful and told the situation without sugar-coating the facts. The resort still has two months back-pay owed to staff and is not sure when they can pay the staff either!
But the question is how a functioning resort which has all paying clients can go so low as to hold on to staff’s wages and yet put a straight face on.. Could the situation be so bad that they would in a few months not even be able to pay for the groceries bill? How long can this farce go on?
The answers to these problems will be given when there is enough political will to confront big bussineses to respect the rule of law. As long as employers can get away with gross violations of labour laws there is little hope things will turn out better for the workers.
Chairman of Yacht Tours Jabir with his wife Dhiyana SAARC Secretary General
Not to be unfair or one sided but if a survey is made of all the resorts in Maldives and asked which employers are the worst, Jresorts will come to the bottom of the results. There is very little doubt about that. Its a combination of bad politics and corrupt business practices which views the workers as nothing better than paid slaves. This is in very contrast to the excellent service resort workers give to their high paying clients who blissfully are unaware that the workers who pamper them in their expensive holidays sometimes go without pay for months while they still retain the smile.
Our solidarity with the wronged staff of Alidhoo Cinnamon Island who were summarily dismissed for asking for their last month’s salary. This sends a chilling message to honest workers who toil hard in resorts far away from family and friends that employers can still cheat and threat and getaway with everything and nobody seems to take notice!
Here are some background info about Alidhoo the resort, the parent company and the owner of the bussiness.
Jresorts is owned and managed by Mr. Abdulla Jabir who is frequently referred to as a self made businessman from Huvadhooo Atoll. However like all creations of the state Mr. Jabir was also a creation of the former administration. Specifically Mr. jabir rose to prominence in tourism industry by association with Yameen the powerful minister who held many ministerial portfolios and half-brother of the Maumoon the last president. It could be safely assumed that almost all of Jabir’s resorts were built, renovated or maintained by finances and materials from deals with the State Trading Organization whose board chairman was also Yameen at the time. So unlike most resort owners who struggled with finance arrangements, Jabir had an important friend at the right place and time. Mr. Jabir’s wife the Diyana the current SAARC secretary general is not associated with his bussiness but its frequently noted in forums and local news that the position for Dhiyana was offered as part of a political deal to keep Mr. Jaabir away from ruling party politics. He is the only prominent politician/businessman in the country to have been in all major political parties, DRP, MDP, Jumuhooee Party, And People’s Alliance (Yaameen’s party) in so a short period of time. Basically he is an opportunist businessman involved in politics for the business interests like everywhere else around the world.
Jresorts currently owns Alidhoo, , KudaRah, Vatavarreha, Funamaudda among many other islands. The parent company of the islands is Yacht Tours Maldives. Past management deals and ownerships include Dhonveli Beach and Spa which has been sold to John Keels Holding Co of Sri lanka and Herethere which was leased from MTDC. The Herethere deal has since been abandoned after a sizable loss to everyone including the MTDC. Jresorts has also been awarded an island in lieu of a failed bid he presented to Vilivaru and Biyadhoo which was a precedent which has since not been replicated.
The decision to reprieve resorts who are dodging payment of rent and accrued fines is a dangerous precedent created by the tourism ministry. This is actually a very serious issue as all of the owners of these defaulting resorts are senior members of the ruling MDP party. Tourism industry is the one sector of our economy that works well relatively compared to other sectors so its an alarming situation. The ministry and administration has to make a point of being seen as not playing favourites to the party members.
Tourism ministry may have considered the effect of revoking operation license of these resorts and the ensuing economic factors which might negatively effect the upcoming national elections in their decision. However these figures owed by the resorts in question are not of the magnitude that would have been impossible for resorts to come up with if the resorts are in business. Our resorts are well known for their over pricedness where even a bottle of water is sold for guests to the equivalent of a bottled water case! Also a quarter of million dollars is average monthly value of payroll in a mid sized resort. So its bewildering how the ministry has to bend its uprightness just to appease party benefactors.
Below is a list of resorts and the amounts owed by these resorts as rent and fines.