After months of public pressure, the Anti Corruption Commission released the 700 page report on the biggest corruption case in Maldives history. The report contains the companies, individuals and businesses who were involved in the corruption and the implications are mind boggling.
The money siphoned off from lease of islands and lagoons worth over 70 million dollars was used for everything including dollar to rufiya conversion, buying businesses, and even to oust 2 of the 7 supreme Court judges. The primary suspects of the grand corruption case involve former president Abdulla Yameen, former vice president Ahmed Adheeb among others. Adheeb is currently serving a sentence in jail and Yameen has been summoned to court for a first hearing of the money laundering case.
However there are many concerns that the report itself is incomplete and released too early possibly to cover up some still hidden public officials. These include the Anti Corruption Commission members themselves as well as central bank former governer and current staff and Bank of Maldives officials. The report also contains little to no information about transactions where cash was involved and where islands titles were changed hands.
However it’s encouraging that the government took action against a minister and deputy minister for being recipients of money from the notorious case.
To prevent further grand corruptions, it’s important to go to the bottom of this case and other similar cases like this and also to rethink the whole system to rid the possibility of corruption and misuse of public funds.
Any project by a political party or government “to create awareness and public education” will very likely be met with skepticism and be quickly associated with political propaganda. Its exactly the same thing that happened with the recent efforts to start a project just like that. If they were to do it right, they should have anticipated this and avoided the labeling. But the problems are there and nobody doubts it. We have harassment of foreigners, robbery, mugging of foreign teachers, doctors, students threatening and intimidating teachers, gang wars and all the vices one can think of in incredibly small communities. Blaming it all on lack of employment is the easy excuse not to think seriously about the issue. So yes there is an issue or rather an abundance of issues and better we acknowledge the facts now do something about it.
A big one time one year project to ‘reeducate’ will not work in this case because we seems to have the fundamentals wrong in this case. Over the years, we have unthinkingly created monster sized issues: of ignorance of social skills, respect for persons and races, blotted out the definition of corruption and failed to install the values based stories in the young. Examples.
We still do not have the equivalent for phrases like thank you or the expectation for that in the normal discourse. So if you give me a sweet you will very likely get a smile from me and that’s it. 🙂 Nor is it particularly beneficial to waste precious time thanking and ‘welcoming’ the thanks, it looks artificial but that’s where we are.
For years now, we have been ridiculing fellow human beings from neighboring countries in our dramas, and films (which are in essence part of our literature) with characters like “Pindey” who is the perpetual fool (Bangladeshi), not good for anything but ridicule. Maybe a story might have a use of such character to satisfy our ego or whatever, but overdoing this has created a sense of superiority and there are fellow humans suffering exactly because of this. Everyday there are hundreds of Bangladeshi waiters and servers who are subjected to verbal abuse in tea shops and café’s which is the validation of the above observation.
Corruption is so endemic in our society that it’s hardly recognizable now. From simple things like getting preferential treatment in hospitals and banks because of relatives who work inside to big things which involve thousands or millions of rufiyaa, we are flushed with it, if nothing else.
So verily seems we have to start somewhere with something. We have to change our attitudue to ourselves and foreigners alike. We have to start a values based system in education and upgrade the books where the stories are missing. Instead of “Foolhudhiguhandi” stories we shall go for stories that actually show kindness and good manners to young ones.
The island of Kudafinolhu is north of fun island is in the press with the Villa Group claiming the tourism ministry’s revision of the rent for the island is against the original agreement signed with the ministry. The island was leased to the Villa group at a paltry 1500 dollars as a picnic island. The revised rent is based on the size of the island and amounts to 51,784 dollars annually.
The case highlights the corruption and self-interest at play in the tourism ministry over the years and its an encouragement that the tourism ministry is at-last seen to be doing something about these issues.
Although a picnic island by itself does not generate income like a ‘resort’, resorts sell excursions to guests which is a lot of money on a yearly basis. For the purpose of rent for the k.kudafinolhu, 1500 dollars is only symbolic. This goes in the same line where Villa group was awarded a plot of land in Male’ for filling station for only 6rf per sq-ft. If we consider another similar island Kuda Bandos, which is a primarily local picnic island, the rent for the island is 1,130,333 dollars! so the kinds of money expected from picnic island is not paltry at all when dealt farily. There are more islands and more stories like this which needs to come out to light and accountability.