How does an abandoned island look after 22 years? Here are some pics of Tholhendhoo which was abandoned in 1992 and the people of the island moved to nearby Kendhidulhudhoo. The island itself was a small beautiful island which didn’t have a calm safe lagoon which made it very difficult for the islanders to engage in fishing or sea transport.
Its autumn in Tholhendhoo. The haunting image of the main road of the island after 22 years of quietness.
Here is the island now; trees have grown up and erased all signs of past human habitation. Only a small area with a few roofs remains to show the history of the island.
Tholhendhoo (right) people migrated to their much big brother island nearby which is kendhikulhudhoo
The biggest tree in the island.
The ruins of the island pre-school.
The island office, once symbol of authority,
One last pic a villager took of his home before emigrating to new life in Kendhikulhudhoo
The farewell ceremony of the island was attended by by the then president Maumoon.
From a distance the beaches of the island are the same as any other island, but Tholhendhoo has a history.
Local workers of Sheraton have stopped work and are on strike citing service unbelievably low charge, discrimination against workers and nepotism. According to one worker in the island, the service charge has been around an unimpressive 600$ for most of the year including in the high season. This is in contrast to $2k and above in Kihaava Villas and other top resorts in the country. It’s strange that big brands like Sheraton could have got things so wrong in the middle of high season when everywhere resort workers are expected to earn substantial incomes. One worker opined that the resort feels immune from pressure because of the strong connections to the resort owners (Universal Group) with the ruling class.
The resort being developed by ADK group is about 70% complete and will be the newest and the biggest in Maldives. Once complete Gaakoshibee will have 673 rooms and would have cost 170 million dollars to the main investor Caprice Gold of Turkey. The project for the island has started in 2007 and gone through several plans and investors and this hopefully will be the last twist in the story till the island opens. The island is located in Shaviyani atoll in the north and will be 50 minutes from sea plane from Male airport. The resort will have an Islamic concept of tourism with separate secluded beach for ladies only, pool villas for couples and certified halal buffet from all the restaurants. The island will not sell any alcohol and will be family friendly.
Although we have several middle eastern tourists arriving in Maldives including royalties from Gulf states, a resort island for the Muslim tourist has been wanting for some time.
One of the newest brands to Maldives, Dusit Thani Maldives is a popular resort according to many reviews in TripAdvisor. Among the many endearing terms used in the review these terms stand out. Helpful people, eco-friendly resort, top notch service, prestigious resort… After every review in TripAdvisor there appears a thanking little message by GM of the resort thanking for the review.
For lack of a similar service where staff can rate their employer, we had to ask about from our friends in the resort to give us an honest, heart to heart review of the resort, and what we got is not amusing at all. Here is one review by a trustworthy source about the resort:
The resort has recently decided to drastically cut down on benefits for staff and is currently in the process for terminating 60 local staff. That’s almost half of the total employees whose agreements will not be renewed. While most of the resorts goes to great lengths to keep their longer serving staff in the island, this looks like a departure from that trend. RNR (Rest and Relax 1 or 2 week extra paid leaves given to manager level persons) will be restricted only to a handful top managers. Around 70 local regular staff has been kept in limbo without permanent work agreements (used as casual workers; mostly this is the case for expatriate laborers in other resorts). Laundry, stewarding, gardening and landscaping, powerhouse, pest control, and public area cleaning services are going to be outsourced. Staff will not be able to plan their holidays or accumulate pending off days or lieu days for public holidays when going on annual vacation. This is allowed and hassle-free in most resorts. Most of the staff who worked in the pre-opening team are being terminated for flimsy and sometimes made-up reasons by their superiors who joined later. The resort Financial Controller is reported to have said that service charge for local staff shall be capped at 250$ per month irrespective of occupancy. Many local staff have been threatened with summary dismissal for minor reasons. There are only 3 locals in management level which is very low compared to other resorts. It seems the management is not willing to listen to any complaints or suggestions; and staffs have been dismissed for revealing these grievances in meetings with GM. Despite these negatives, the staff believe it has more to do with the individual temperaments of the managers themselves than company policy, which is making the resorts appeal less to local talent.
Our assessment: overall this is a good employer which has to do some serious housekeeping work to make sure from the management side, things are as it should be. Frequently what would happen is resorts are part of bigger chain of hotels and local management is assumed to be in order from corporate office if the monthly figures look ok. But there is always room for improvement and if half of those on the payroll are to be replaced in a year, then there indeed is cause for alarm. As for employing local workers wherever possible, this should be included in the Corporate Social Responsibility agenda and followed through to execution especially considering the high level of unemployment in the host country and the potential for conflict which will ensue.
Madoogali Resort and Spa, and Velidhoo Island Resorts have been fined 1000000 Rf and given a month’s notice to resolve health and safety problems.
A letter from the Ministry of Tourism states that resort does not have a proper garbage disposal mechanism, lacks can crushers, glass crushers, balers and shredders. The letter also states that the accommodation and catering facilities provided to the resort staffs are below regulation standards.
A Ministry official stated that the resort operator has been repeatedly asked to resolve health and safety issues since 2011.
Also, the official stated that they are currently investigation allegations against the resort management regarding Service Charge Taxes.
The Tourism Ministry has reportedly forwarded the case to the Prosecutor General’s office.
On reflection it can be said that it’s just stupid to run high end resorts and not spend on upkeep of the hotel. Another point is that although the law mandates resorts to have incinerators, compactors, bottle crushers; one very crucial element of the recycling idea is missing. It’s the buyers who will take the compacted cans, paper bales and use them to actually recycle something out of it. As long as we are burning or throwing things which can be recycled, we are just wasting resources.
On the positive side, it’s a good thing that the ministry appears to be getting tough on standards.
Basically it happens like this. The country is highly polarized with people pro and against controversial former president Anni. Approximately a little bit less than half of the population supports him while the rest are split between what could be termed as royalists (PPM) and progressives (JP coalition). So we have 3 major political thinking at the moment. The current hullabaloo about the case before Supreme Court is just a technical legal process which has to be completed whoever runs the show. There are many issues in the whole story including the personal lifestyle of a Supreme Court judge and the quality of evidence JP submitted against the first round of presidential elections. To summarize the whole story, it may be safely said that politicians are encouraging disruptive behavior by calling for tourism boycotts which are usually followed by unsuspecting politically naïve followers.
In resorts the political wheeling and dealing are enthusiastically followed by resort workers who discuss the finer points of the days happening after duty hours normally in the staff gym or cafeteria. There is great camaraderie and honest heart to heart discussions sometimes quite heated. To make for a party atmosphere soft drink cases are usually bought from staff shop and enemies and friends enjoy political toast to their political masters in Male’. Usually somewhere in the discussion the idea to capture the moment and share in social media occurs to somebody and is carried out.
From there on the evil political masters take over and twist the story to their advantage and start frantic anti campaigns against the country.
To make the story go viral they even include Iran and Syria as well in the hash tags to get attention to the story.
The damage has already been done. What started as a light hearted talk was quite successfully turned to something more sinister. Travel advisory against the country has already been issued from 5 countries and more are to follow. Those who are calling for tourism boycott against the country are the true enemies of the country. Tourism can make or break this country and no sane person with a cool mind will call for self destruction. If this was about a single hotelier abusing the staff or something similar, a strike can be justified. But we have at the moment is no strikes and irresponsible hot-headed politicos inviting maximum damage to the country. It’s sad that TEAM the biggest organization representing tourism workers also appears to support boycott of tourism forgetting that more than half of those who work in resorts are not going to support their political view. TEAM shall be more neutral and be support of all political views to succeed in the long term. Whichever party comes to power, a self damaged economy would be the most difficult wound to heal.
For the first time in a very long long time, the words ‘job creation’ has been mentioned in an election pledge. We have in a previous post mentioned about jobs being a non-issue in our politics. But this seems to be changing now. Of course election pledges are just empty words and most rational people do not believe in the flowery language. But the fact that job creation is at least mentioned now is an improvement. The promised figure is 26k and way they would go about doing that according to PPM would be by inviting more investors and building more resorts. This is of course easier said than done. Our tourism industry has grown up from humble beginnings to ludicrously expensive industry in a recession prone world. In today’s standard, there simply is very little space except for the rich guests. The resorts are designed just for the rich, not for the budget traveler. What cost 5m to build today costs anything over 50m in the space of roughly 20 years. Attracting that kind of investors would be a challenge especially when a healthy opposition is hell bent on thwarting the administration on everything. The saddest part of this political drama is when opposition started calling to boycott our tourism industry and the effects of their negative campaign were felt. There simply has to be a way to do politicking without damaging the economy.
Another useful nugget of information from the Yageen Team was their belief that oil exploration will be renewed, if they basically had their way. There was an attempt to test for oil exploration roughly 20 years ago and it was stopped some years for some reason. The reason we now understand is that it was not feasible at 20$ per barrel at that time. Now that a barrel costs 125% it would be feasible.
Coming from politicians there is little reason to be overjoyed with these prospects. They have a reason to make pledges and promises and we have a reason to be judicial on whether to take their pledges at face value or not.
At the beginners level chess is a dull mechanical rule based game. However when the player gets a better insight into the game, it becomes like life itself. In life we do not normally become aggressive, unkind and violent for no reason. Same kind of thoughts sometimes prevents the advanced chess player from taking advantage of the opponents ineffectual game. They will want to be charitable, generous and courteous with the other player. There are many romantic thoughts about chess in this stream of thought and they are valid in that sense of the word. But ultimately it’s a game of intellect between two players and the goal is to win. So one player will win at the expense of another player’s weaker game. If it was a defeat then the defeated will take a hint from boxing; the person who can take the most blows has more endurance!
At the highest end of game the game takes on a whole new meaning. Its sort of again back to square one with mechanical rule based game. The stakes at the top are higher, the challenge, reward are all higher and that’s probably the attraction to beat the average. But life is a very adaptable system, life compensates for the loss by offering another perspective, congratulates the winner for the achievement.
The Mayday rally was hijacked by the usual gang; politicians. Politicians from both sides claimed they did and this and that workers and they plan yet to do more of these and those in the future. But it was all baloney. They were just unkind in not giving the workers cause their backing and considerable voice. What they did was to steal the workers cause and do the usual politicking.
ports workers and TEAM
Here are the facts about last Mayday rally:
The number of the participants could not be over 100. The low turnout could be still about people not ‘getting’ the deal about workers. Most seem to have the idea that Mayday and workers rights is all about resort workers or civil workers. It is about every worker, but that message doesn’t seem to have been delivered.
There were 3 main groups of workers represented in the rally. They are the usual redshirts of TEAM, the predominantly girl powered civil service, and the diehard port workers union.
There were no agendas or abundance of them depending on the way one takes it. The list of grievances shouted over the sound system include among other things, longer working hours for parliamentarians, calls to ratify or implement various provisions of workers rights bills, empowering local workers etc. In short, there was no logic, it was all free speech.
the fraudsters who stole the workers cause
Compared to the small but ‘real’ workers who participated in the Mayday rally, the fake rally conducted by the politician’s was well attended and well organized. They had their drummers, cheerleading girls, beautiful yellow headbands and yellow t-shirts written with the usual demands like ‘stop police brutality’ etc.
pity the civil workers
If we are going to do this right the next time, its important to hardtalk the issue of hijacking the workers cause with the politcians. Just because honourable EASA is an MDP parliamentarian, should not mean we shall let the politican’s use our name to promote their agenda. Also activism works. We the workers have to be more active to promote our views on all platforms, to promote our views. Its easy to call, demand, ask to ratify or implement this or that but without compelling momentum by voting public, politician’s do not budge. They are thicker than that!
Isn’t it ironic that most resorts in Maldives still do not recognize May 1 as a public holiday despite Mayday being officially declared a public holiday in 2011 by then president Nasheed? It shall be more so, considering the fact that this affects tourism workers who are by far the most productive workers and the most deserving of a Mayday break from workplace. However stubbornness have it, that its always the unproductive, demoralized, polarized civil workers who gets all the benefits while the resort workers toil hard, unloved and uncared for. This is not to belittle the civil workers, but to emphasize a massive wrong doing done to resort workers which nobody seems to notice. On the issue of Mayday, it is indeed past time that we seem to come to a conclusion about which is a public holiday, which is a govt. holiday, a bank holiday, or a religious holiday or whatever. Currently the resort HR’s are still sticking to an outdated portion of the hard-fought-and-almost-lost-cause-called-labour-rights-bill which has a section for “miscellaneous matters” where it says:
“public holiday” shall mean Fridays, Day of Commemoration of the Birth of Prophet Mohamed, Day of Commemoration of the Maldives converting to Islam, Independence Day, National Day, First Day of Ramazan, Day of Eid‐ul‐Fitr, Victory Day, Republic Day, Hajj Day and Day of Eid‐ul‐Ad’ha;”
This is a question which was raised in our Citizen’s Majlis recently in an aimless debate (the kind of useless talk politicians call debates…) which will one way or another way be answered negatively just not to be seen as politically incorrect by both MDP and their adversaries in politics. This was raised because commonwealth is seen to be taking a much uninformed approach to the political developments in the Maldives in the last few months. It seems the commonwealth diplomats were not appropriately briefed on the situation from all perspectives or that they were bombarded with too much info such that they just threw all the info they were given away and googled info the easy way. Googling (or Yahooing for that matter) info this way is prone to error and there should have been no surprise there.
But what are the practical benefits of being in Commonwealth? Here are some tidbits of info we came across along these lines.
“If they get a lot of benefits, and that you’re angry, try to think of it this way:
The Brits conquered their lands, exploited their kids, making them work in mines, killed dissenters, killed their leaders, killed the natives, brought in immigrants from China, made them work at meagre salaries, implemented the divide and rule policy to the detriment of national unity, left during the Japanese occupation, shamelessly came back to claim power after the Japs surrenderred, continued to exploit the economy.. all to satisfy the needs of the Brits during the Industrial Era.. and it lasted for 2 centuries in some countries. In other words, it’s payback time for the Brits!” link1
“Visits from the Queen, the opportunity to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph, a much better chance of winning a gold medal in the shot put because Russia, Germany and the US don’t compete in the Commonwealth Games…” Link2
“The Commonwealth doesn’t have too many legal benefits these days, it’s mainly a friendship organization. One benefit is that if you are travelling to a country in which your own country doesn’t have an embassy, you can obtain assistance from the embassy of any commonwealth country…” Link3
“…Only writers from Commonwealth countries can compete for the Booker Prize which is arguably the most prestigious prize for a single written work (novel) by an author. The Booker prize has the effect of propelling a writer’s career sky high.” Link4
And now its a good time to say sorry to President Abbas while he is here:
We earned this debt by running away from the successful UNESCO membership vote for Palestine. The administration at the time gave many explanations as to why the Maldives delegation left in a hurry but none looks convincing.
Here are some official reasons given by various govt officials at the time.
“… Our ambassador [Ibthisham Adam] is based in Geneva. She couldn’t immediately travel to Paris because it was informed of short notice,”
“They were travelling on a UNESCO ticket and they had difficulties in extending their stay, besides Education Minister had to attend a [parliamentary] committee meeting the next day,”
“Maldives delegation who participated at the UNESCO meeting in Paris missed the opportunity to cast the vote because of an oversight. They did not check about the vote to the extent they should, what happened is regrettable.”
What is important is probably not the excuses but the way we failed to see the need to recognize the legitimate aspiration of an oppressed country. Palestine needs all the diplomatic support it can get to help build the Palestine state. However we have gone out of our way to embarrass the Palestinian people and Maldivians alike to shake hands with Israel which does not need any more diplomatic endorsements to continue oppression of a people. It already has the eyes and ears of the biggest military and economic powers of the world and an amazing historical narrative to check any criticism against their state. Theoretically anybody can criticize any country or any people or any religion of the world in a free democracy society. However you risk being blamed for being insensitive to a tragedy if you criticized Israel. Write an essay, or compose a poem, you won’t escape the label. Nobody is immune from this threat. Even world class penmen who thought they could getaway with a few truthful words as their last drop of ink would not survive a jab at this larger than life state.
This was perhaps one of the biggest diplomatic blunders Maldives was involved in hopefully will never be repeated.
Our political parties (the active ones at least) seems to be working in auto-pilot self destruct mode. One would be forgiven for thinking that enough has happened in the last 5 years for politicians to realize what aught to be done or said (or not) would have been grasped by now. But this doesn’t seem to be the case even now. They are doing the same mistakes they have done AGAIN! Let’s enumerate the mistakes of the ruling coalition first.
Appointing discredited people to important positions (ministers, directors etc). Let yesterdays paper be yesterday’s news.
trying to redo the same thing again (like reverting back to the tourism sunny-side logo again)
copying the same tactics for different political campaigns. (originality would be better)
Where the yellow shirts are wrong.
Foul mouthing MNDF and police, because whatever happens they will stay. The party may change or the leadership may change, but institutions like police and military do not change. So its no use to call them names. Former defense minister Ameen Faisal tried many times to raise this point. But his voice doesn’t seem to be audible at the policy level.
Associating with violence or condoning such behavior. The effects of violence will serve as a powerful reminder of all that was wrong within and will be useful ammo for the yellow shirt’s enemies. Playing it cool with politeness and respectability will win more hearts and minds.
Appear to benefit from influence. The recent decision by Male City council to award Lonuziyaaraykolhu to MDP’s “journey to justice” campaign was universally despised if Haveeru ( a relatively moderate paper) comments are a good measure of what people thought about it. The yellow shirts shall refrain from being seen as receiving an advantage from its position. The opposition’s chances will be better if they play the victim part.
Appearing to be secular and aloof from the religious voice. Every party needs religion and religious scholars to show that they care about religion and people’s belief. Even the atheist North Koreans tried to show that heaven was involved when their great leader passed away. So yellow shirts aught to do some soul searching here. Selling the middle of the road brand in religion has been proven not to work in Maldives politics.
MDP’s long planned big demo is underway in Male’ with thousands of MDP supporters. The demand for now is for incumbent president Dr. Waheed to announce a date for a fresh referendum or else!
Actually our sources in the demo reports that the temperature is quite cool yet and there is possibility that further demands may be spawned as the demo goes on. The only worry for now is that the police forces might intervene to stop the demo at midnight which might lead to confrontations. However, its equally likely that the police will play it safe this time because it would be in the interest of incumbent government now.
Lets first congratulate Dr. Waheed, the new president of Maldives. Dr. Waheed is a quiet, soft spoken, extremely polite figure who has worked in UN diplomatic missions for quite some time. Dr. Waheed is generally looked upon to be impartial and fair and he retained the trust of both MDP and opposition parties even in the height of political tensions these last few days. We wish the new president well and hope he will be able to bring the country to working order in a near future.
Former President Anni and former president Maumoon still have sizable support of the people and what is not known yet is weather there will be a race between the two in the near future. For Maumoon its very much anticipated that he will not enter again to politics but for Anni there is every reason to anticipate a fighting political campaign ahead for him. Its interesting to note that the major 3 political parties in the country had experienced splits in the last 3 years and only MDP is left because it was the ruling party for the last few years. With Anni out of power it is likely that, the bindings that kept the party from splitting will cease and break out. If MDP were to split it would be a split in two, with the ‘countryside’ faction headed by DR. Didi who would be the majority and a Male’ faction lead by aristocrats from Male’. This has been quite anticipated for some time the media and there are already signs that the MDP’s self examining process will make it real. During the last three years, Anni seemed to have ears only for the Male’ faction on important policy matters which was probably the undoing of the party. Unpopular issues like licensing liquor sale in inhabited islands were advanced by the MDP’s Male’ faction with probable self interest in the issues. On a personal level, if the cases of bottles of liquor recovered from president’s residence were proved to have been for his Excellency’s consumption, there will be a very slim chance for him to get elected again.
In a quickly changing atmosphere last night saw for the first time in the history of the country, police taking sides against the government in the on going demonstrations. Our sources in Male’ tells us that this could be the result of the military high command not being seen to be balanced in the orders and the police just revolted to show their disagreement with the top brass. The revolt started when MDP activists confronted the opposition protesters and pelted them with stones and the police tried to intervene. The police apparently got orders not to intervene. However when the intervened and arrested some MDP activists the military confronted the police and asked them to release the activists the police had apprehended or to hand them over to the military. The police did not obey this time and openly started siding with protesters. All this happened in the early hours of the morning and since then the police had changed the venue of the protests to the main square of Male’. Negotiations are on going with police and senior commanders and the president’s effort to speak to the protesting police seems ineffectual yet.
The developments in the last few hours has brought Male’ to a standstill with a number of arson attacks and attacks at business and private properties from both camps of the politics. The atmosphere is tense and opposition is calling for the vice president to take over the country.
The government if it needs to survive this latest development needs to seriously align the policies with the desires of the people and to listen to many untold reasons why its fast loosing credibility. This could start with making an effort to appear to dispense with justice and fair in arrests or detention. Even yesterday police gave a statement that there are difficulties pursuing an investigation against a prominent member of ruling party’s family member who was caught with a large stock of alcohol in his home. The said person was suspected with the same kind of contraband two years ago and the investigation was stopped short mysteriously.
It has become a standard talk starter and its even a question Maldivians have been asked in foreign countries. There are instances where Judge Abdulla is asked by police officers in India who have read the news about the ongoing saga of the abduction of Judge Abdulla by MNDF and the ensuing protests. But who is Judge Abdulla and what made him so special that the democratic president had to have him arrested despite seemingly universal opposition?
Velezinee was right even though she looked wrong!
To some, Judge Abdulla might be a victim of injustice but to others Judge Abdulla symbolizes everything that’s wrong in the judicial system and they might be just right! This was the same judge who remarked on a murder case verdict that he was letting off the suspect in the case to hold the health minister responsible. Perhaps this was the finest hour of the Judge and the suspect did not waste much time after that and only a few days later was involved in another murder. The same Abdulla had a disciplinary case against him when he was sworn in for lifetime in an almost clandestine ceremony amid heroic opposition by Ms Velezinee who made quite a scene for herself in protest at the judicial circus that was unfolding at the time. Ms. Velezinee at that historic moment would not have looked right but she did stood up to an important principle.
The major players of the current situation are the ruling MDP and a coalition of parties in a forced marriage of convenience.
Adhaalath played the erudite Islamic scholar part in first few years and people mocked and scoffed at them for being scholarly and religious. Next they joined the pioneers of democracy the MDP. MDP repaid them by forcing them out of parliamentary elections by pitting strong MDP members against Adhaalath member who again lost. So Adhaalath party has rightly aligned with the left like just another real political party hoping to make their mark on the political landscape.
PPM is the Maldivian equivalent of congress party of India and whatever happens is the party is going to stay. The party has lots of potential and talent and only seems to lack a replacement leader of the exact caliber for the former president Maumoon. Former president Maumoon however he was depicted was an accomplished politician.
DRP if it was human shall feel like going through a divorce after the formation of PPM following the leadership split and the future does not seem at all bright. The split of the party left DRP with a broken financier in Thasmeen Ali and few reform minded mps here and there who could not show enough obeisance to the house of Maumoon. The voter base of the party was of course all works of the former president and could be likened to a cut and paste version of the id card database at the time!
PA is a for its founder (The right honorable Yameen) what is normal business attire for a businessman. Its simply a platform, a prestigious title for its patron and a useful self made, political position to give press conferences etc. The voter base of the party is not even worth mentioning and the ideology is blank.
National of (Gaumee) party is headed by Dr. Hassan Saeed and Dr. Jameel who were credited to have played important roles in the early years of power transfer from the last president to the current one both against and with MDP on various issues. However their influence is marginal at the moment after Dr. Hassan’s failed bid to presidency in the last presidential elections.
JP is very much like PA except that Honourable Gasim is also very much like what is Sylivio Berlasconi is for Italians except for the allegations of mafia connections! Despite all his eccentricities (everybody has them!) Gasim is much more a favored figure than other contenders in the current climate for his generous philanthropic works.
the possibility of a formidable coalition
in the next upcoming presidential elections there is a real possibility of a serious threat to current president and the ruling party if the opposition comes under a strong coalition. There are already signs that such a coalition might take place and various parties will be assigned various functions to work in tandem to change power. One such plausible configuration would be like:
PPM: for political activism- providing the muscle
Adhaalath: for spiritual leadership
JP: the financier – for campaign financing
DRP: sleeping partners in business -for increasing numbers
Np: Gaumee party – for managing public relations
If somebody is at the center of attention his or her even smallest acts will be noticed and MDP was no exception. Upon becoming the ruling party they tried everything to appear ‘nice’ to everybody and nothing seemed to work. MDP tried the positions of :
the adamant protester (the iconic picture of Anni being dragged away by MNDF)
the darling of media (TVM or MNBC until very recently tried to balance reporting— now sadly given up)
the liberator of religion (at first Adhaalath scholars were quite free to do whatever they wanted with Islamic ministry, which is not the case anymore..)
introducer of new concepts (started tax regime, transport regime, health insurance regime, pension regime etc)
The SAARC idols
The latest SAARC summit hosted in Addu just turned out to be like a a show or a performance (worth around 800 million Rf) as Addu city does not seems to have benefited from aught except a mention in history that this so and so city hosted this so and so summit and no more. To add salt to injury, the government stubbornly kept their stand with stone commemorative idols (souvenirs of SAARC summit) which were universally despised by the people of Addu.
Spa closure or brothel closure?
The government unwisely ordered spa closures throughout the country in response to growing demands by opposition protesters to close brothels in Male’ which operates under names of spas. This knee-jerk reaction by the government was interpreted very negatively by media, some mentioning even that the MDP led government is considering closing tourism altogether under popular protests. The administration hoped to achieve the victim status image for themselves but this status was obtained by financially sacrificing the country.
GMR fiasco…, yes its a fiasco!
One of the first major undertaking the MDP led government after coming to power was to outsource the management to Hulhule airport to GMR which has since been a bone of contention between the opposition and the ruling party. Part of the problem could be the inexperience of the persons who dealt such a huge contract with GMR hence the government is always seen liable to protect GMR’s interests rather than government ‘s interests.
The expensive immigration database
another bad apple in the political basket of MDP is the formidably expensive database software someone negotiated on behalf of the government with Nextbis which was subsequently found out to be able to be home grown and even the Americans promised to give such a database for free! The loss on the government on this shameful project is well over 200 million ruffiyas for next 20 years
To MDP’s credit
universal basic health insurance which was started a couple of months ago is a welcome break for the country amid rising prices and growing political instability. There are still many things imperfect with the system and yet its perhaps one of the best things to happen in the last eventful few years.
transport system trials
transportation system via ferry dhonis, buses has started in many parts of the country despite several major transportation contracts being awarded to opaque seemingly paper companies.
Taxes shall ideally not be taken from anyone (especially from workers :)), but is a modern day feature of economies in most economies of the world. One reason for the implementation of tax was to take more Ruffiyas from circulation which in theory would reduce demand on dollar which was one MDP manifesto pledge. The next reason was of course to increase more ways for government to make money. It took a change of government for the government to be sufficiently brave to introduce tax and its a start.
renaming Hulhule’ airport
After GMR got to run the Hulhule airport, it was rumored that GMR was researching Indian influential figures to use one such figure’s name in place of the airport’s name, which prompted the government to quickly rename the airport to Ibrahim Nasir who is the second president of the country, preventing GMR from giving an Indian name to the airport.
Secular camp taking advantage of MDP.
Perhaps one of the most damaging factor to the success of MDP is that it allowed the die hard secularists (the intolerant ones) to take advantage of the democratic liberal values initially professed by the party. Under various guises and schemes, they advanced their agenda which are universally abhorred by large majority of the country such as gay rights and religious pluralism. This is not about the rights and wrongs of the cases in question but rather political cost of the positions and MDP seems rightly duped as to where the votes are.
the media alignment
Media is a very useful tool both opposition and government can use to advance their cause and reach to the hearts and minds of the people. However both parties seems to use media to their own detriment. The opposition fares worse in this aspect that it doesn’t even care about the semblance of balance in reporting and disseminating information. On the other hand the government up until very recently tried to be professional and bring balanced reporting. By abandoning a valuable position of trust, government is ill advisedly coming down to battle a fight which does not exist!
the political cost of the protests
the political cost / benefit calculations doesn’t seem to have been anticipated in the protests that are currently taking place in Male’ in protest at the arrest and unlawful (yes its unlawful!) detention of Judge Abdulla. The protests are more loaded with emotion than reason and cold calculated political manipulations which is a good thing. The last thing we need is political intrigue to go along with the sorry state of everything else in the country.
the learning process..
an interesting feature of the ongoing protests is that both parties are learning from each other, the pros and cons of the trade. for example GP (Gaumee party) is doing what MDP has done to Maumoon’s regime by manipulating public relations against it using media and they seems to be succeeding here and there. On the other hand MDP seems also to have cracked the code as to how to bring masses out for a show of strength by watching Adhaalath doing the same despite their dismal parliamentary representation.
To be fair to all sides we have decided to dwell on 3 points to the story in question.
Drinking water is without exception always produced in all resorts of the country. Its a costly and highly technical exercise to construct the water treatment facilities in an island and inevitably there will be hitches in such an operation. This especially so in islands far away from Male’ where spares and experts are difficult to get. Even in fully developed and operating resorts close to Male, its not uncommon to buy boat loads of water from Male’ in bulk when treatment plants break down or holding tanks burst.
Its a fact of resort life that people have ambitions and desire to move up the ladder because ultimately we all work in resorts to earn, and to earn more you climb higher. In this train of thought, its not uncommon for workers to treat unduly preferentially to their superiors to win their favour which is where the message in the bottle comes! The water bottles depicted here have been labeled apparently by someone for his or her boss which was taken as a cynical and insensitive gesture by the now thirsty workers.
Although the majority of resort owners and managers today belongs to a generation prior to social networks, most young resort workers of today are well versed in social networking and use them as part of daily life. But facebook is not a friend of every organization. In fact there are many cases of workers being dismissed for posting their views on facebook and this time Ayada was no exception. Although resort workers are generally expected to be responsible and capable of checking themselves from negative publicity to their resort, there is a limit to people’s endurance. It is understood that the water shortage problem in Ayada has been going on for quite some time and that workers do frequently have to buy bottled water (which is needless to say, expensive) even to take a shower before to going to work. Ayada strike or rather sit-in was started because of the management’s decision to terminate some of the workers who participated in their closed face-book group which discussed these issues in not very diplomatic terms.
In closing, we believe Ayada was wrong and highly inconsiderate in dismissing staff for airing their thoughts in a CLOSED facebook group among themselves. We also understood that the staff have turned down most offers of mediation by local councils and politicians which shows that they are protective of their resort’s image despite the raw deal they got. It is our hope that Ayadha takes back the workers and works to contain the situation which will work to everyones benefit.
Ps: The story doesn’t end here..
Apparently the protesting staff were removed from the island by police under handcuffs. So much for the rights of workers!
The tiny island of Vaavu Thinadhoo is a tourism success story untold. This is an island of about 30 people (official census 55 as per isles.gov.mv) and two guest houses. The guests live freely among locals and there is mutual love and respect on both sides. Most of the tourists that comes to the island are repeat guests who would not need any invitation to join dinner or lunch in any house. The island provides guest with a real living adventurous version of holiday typical resorts do not provide to their guests. However the resort is for the traveller type of guests who would love fishing, snorkelling, playing chess with local elders, playing soccer with locals etc….
The idea of tourism in the island occurred to a local of the island and his Italian wife ( the island medic), both of them are well loved and respected by guests and islanders alike. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to create a fantastic tourism product from scratch and to keep up with guests every expectations continuously day in day out. Bravo to Ellisa and Mongi for a job well done and we wish them success.
It doesn’t hold water legally according to former attorney general and renowned lawyer Husnu Suood. A spa or any place of legal business can be ordered to stop their business if evidence was discovered which implicates criminal intent. However closing all such businesses for the crime of one establishment is beyond comprehension.
No resort has complied thankfully and hoteliers are aware about the political nature of the dictate The government’s line that this was a measure they are taking to address the demand of the big-demo on 23rd December 2011 is also not consistent as no similar dictate has been issued to remove the commemorative idols and statutes of the SAARC summit in Addu.
One of the five demands of the big demo protesters was to close places of prostitution in Male’ which goes by names such as ‘spas’ , ‘beauty saloons’ , ‘ayuverdha clinics’ etc. There was no mention of high end spas in resorts.
Tourism minister Zulfa’s assertion that spa’s will be reopened once the people support moderate Islam is also inconsistent with her mandate. This presupposition of people’s belief shall not be normal subject matter for a minister to decide. Peoples belief are their own and the fact is that the paranoia about Islamic extremism has been blown out of all proportions for political reasons.